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S2E9 - Hemp Hemp Hooray!

What's the difference between hemp and marijuana?  What's up with all these "hemp derived CBD's"?  Kirk and Trevor talk to hemp pioneer Martin Moravcik, and hemp farmers Don Dewar and Chris Federowich.  Martin has been a hemp promoter since the early 1990's.  Chris and Don grow hemp on a large scale today and Chris is the Vice-Chair of Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers.  Hemp can provide fiber for textiles, food and maybe medicine.  There is a lot of interest in getting CBD's from hemp, but it isn't as easy as you would think to scale up to a farm sized plot of hemp.  Clare McBride, also a farmer, works at the office of the Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers.  She updates us on the latest hemp regulations including what types of plants Health Canada will allow. Kirk likes to say he goes for bike rides south of Dauphin just to smell the hemp fields.  Come jump on your bike for a warm summer evening ride. You are passing acres and acres of tall green plants as Kirk and Trevor chat in your ear.


This Episode is sponsored by Strain Print

Saturday, 12 January 2019 06:35

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Episode Transcript

Martin Moravcik Interview

Martin:  For the first year it was all it was all pretty great just to take a step back in 1994 there was a hemp crop that was planted in eastern Canada by Joe Strobel and Jeff of Hempline, they were tobacco farmers who had all of that extra lobby so they were not sharing their information it was all just about they wanted to grow it but they didn't want to grow for seed or bud they want to go for fiber. Hemp Line was a fiber company so they will get a harvest halfway through the season and they did as they harvested early they didn't want to seed the set and so they harvested two month in and not four months in. We grew in Manitoba independently Jeff and Joe didn't really do anything to influence us. I was informed by Jack.  So we were kind of happening at the same time. It just didn't you know get figured out until 1994 95 and they had a way of getting in with Health Canada differently. So, they were wealthy as tobacco farmers and I am some poor student try to start some import business. So anyway at 95 I explained to the Manitoba agriculture hey we are seed farmers. That's what we do. That's what we all know how to do we harvest seed growth and clean it. That's what we can. Nobody knew anything about farm fiber. No. There was no fiber harvesting or fiber processing that it was just a brand new thing that and they said OK well we've got to go for seed they can grow this much seed and get paid x amount of pennies dollars per pound. Will be more profitable than what they get for seed certainly and maybe even more than what they get for canola.  It's just a new crop and that Manitoba agriculture needed diversity because the Crow rate was dropping at the time they were losing it and then that just changed the economic dynamic for wheat growers in Manitoba. So in 1996 they did more trials in 1997 and they did a third year of trials had their final results. They were good results economically. I started the publicly traded company in late 96 early 97 and we started lobbying with the public company Health Canada to let us grow to us grow. And then we were invited based probably as the main stakeholder at the industrial hemp meetings in 1997 and because we were a publicly traded company and we are making a lot of noise that I was the one who was with Manitoba So. I had had a lot of bureaucrats you know at my fingertips thing and they were all scared and worried in them and respectful of me so I had a lot of clout at that time because you know we looked like we were the future can help. I still can't believe that happened. That's how I was taken away from me. But away in 1997 the stakeholder meetings happened and we were invited to contribute along with other stakeholders and because I had we were the only ones that actually had grown to hemp with any and I had any kind of results and information. And because I had the best information because I organized trials I thought I brought in varieties from these are places that explained to Health Canada and all the other stakeholders that if you're not going to allow us to grow for seed which it wasn't on the docket they were just going to grow us they going to say okay grow for fiber because of the harvest two month you're not allowed to take in the seed because you're going to make seed and that seed will go everywhere. We won't be able to keep track of that and it's going to get out of control. And I explained to them First of all we can grow seed that has zero THC in it so there's no concern for a TCH. Nobody ever talked about CBD probably nobody ever mentioned CBD knows the limits of CBD dangerous CBD to do anything.  Why it's in the hands of pharmaceuticals right now. Blows my mind but so anyway that's that's all. No one's ever said anything about CBD is all of the THC and these Ukrainian varieties had zero THC because of those guys at the institute that I got them from. They had bred doubts intentionally because they were warned about it by the Russian government two decades earlier.

Chris Fedorowich Interview

Kirk:  What is that can you explain that.

Chris:  Parkland's Industrial Hemp Growers is a cooperative, basically a breeding program where we initially started when we actually got the go ahead from Health Canada to be able to grow hemp in the area. We brought some varieties in from Ukraine and they were our first start off but we need a breeding program set in place as what we did and breeding different varieties that are more suitable for this environment and this type of soil types and stuff breeding different varieties for what processers want and user companies wanted no bigger nuts higher GLA you know dehailing rates and stuff like that. So since the beginning we've been working on different varieties that are geared towards fiber dual purpose fiber only. And now of course we're trying to get into the higher CBD levels and stuff. So yeah whoever whatever it is industry is looking for will do our best to try and breed.

Kirk:  Please explain to me what is the difference in hemp and marijuana.

Christ:  Hemp and marijuana which basically a lot of people are confuse. I mean that's really why we have the stipulations with Health Canada. As far as the growing criminal record checks and license GPS coordinates of all of our fields all of our plots in know where they come down hard on us as farmers and really we're growing just a typical commodity like wheat or canola or anything like anything else like that. People I don't know you know if you're in the marijuana business. There's an enhanced ban in marijuana. There's two there's a male and a female type of plants and marijuana and the female is only oh guys will take cuttings of a mother plant a female plant if they're planting outside or inside there they're growing for a specific female only they want bud only that's where you get the good stuff from.

Kirk:  You're not growing pot for the high you're not growing it for the THC.

Christ:  We are grow growing it for that for the grain and for the seed. I mean for the industry growers are breeding program we sell seed to farmers that put in the ground to grow just because you grew a crop and take the grain off of it doesn't mean you can't put it back in the ground again and keep growing it over and over and over again.

Kirk:  You're growing grain.

Chris:  When we grow there's both male and female both male and female the seeds that come off there off our breeding program I guess when I grow registered variety come off certified I'm putting that Ground every single hemp crop that's grown on whether it be seed or grain there is male and female plants both mixed.

Kirk:  So when I look at it when I look at the field when I'm traveling to riding mountain national park on my bicycle and I'm surrounded by Hempfield yep I'm looking at male and female.

Chris:  Correct you're looking at male and female and you're also looking at hermaphrodite females as well, hemp will hermaphrodite. So it has both female and male characteristics so if you look into hemp field you can easily see a pure female you can easily see a pure male and the one that's hard to tell is hermaphroditic female which is half female half male which will still produce seed but still also produce some pollin like a male plant.

Kirk:  So when I if I walk out in the field I can't cut a bud and smoke it.

Chris:  You could if you wanted to but there's absolutely no THC in it whatsoever. The percentages are so low it you could basically take that whole field if you want it and then compress head down and to an oil and if you smoke that you still would get nothing but I'll be a sore throat and headache.

Kirk:  Why is hemp beneficial to us. What is hemp offer us as a society.

Chris:  Hemp as a food I mean as far as the food is concerned when you consume the grain the dehauled nut the oil essential fatty acids protein G.L.A.  If you if you took a hemp compared to any other commodity that we grow like wheat then canola and soybeans, the what hemp in it is a single crop. As far as protein levels GLA and the break down of GLA because that's what I know right.

I mean it's it's a borage and different other commodities that we grow how the same thing but hemp has a total package and one one in one. It's a good commodity.

Kirk: So in Dauphin we're harvesting the seeds correct.

Chris: We're harvesting the grain the grain and that's what you're calling the seeds. That's right. I mean for me as a farmer seed is what I put in the ground to grow, grain is what I sell it to an elevator or to a processing facility for human consumption.

Kirk:  But as a hemp farmer you're growing seeds you can also grow the fibre.

Chris:  Basically when we grow hemp right now it's it's a dual purpose crop our hemp that we grow through park land is tall enough where we can as a farmer harvest the grain and also harvest the fibre.

Kirk:  OK. And Health Canada or the government has no restrictions. Can you grow the plant as green and fibre or just one or the other.

Chris:  We can grow it has grain and fibre or a single purpose grain or single purpose fibre.

Kirk: Okay so you can sell the product as fibre and as seed

Chris:  Correct… No not really that's been right from the start we cannot sell is the leaf material and bud material where of the CBDs are still to this day at this point in time we still cannot harvest.

Kirk:  Does hemp offer you a different way of farming?

Chris:  Not necessarily as far as a farmer is concerned hemp is like any other commodity I grow lots of people you know want to know what's so different about it is it. No how do you seed hemp beds. It's like any other commodity you grow hemp and it's a delicate it's a delicate seed so you have to watch air pressures and stuff like that you don't crack it but cannola always kind of in the same boat how about pesticides the same amount of pesticides for not necessarily we try not to but anything is in this area. It's hard to get away from it. depends what kind of season you have. We know the depends if hemp gets a good start and has a good thick crop you want to you'll have to steer away from using anything like that but if it's a thin crop then you may have to get into a little bit of that situation.

Kirk:  Earlier you guys look into the CBD Market.

Chris:  Absolutely. It's nothing but phone calls and radar office every every industry that's involved in and hemp and in this country right now is overwhelmed with calls of people wanting CBDs from our hemp what they're looking for is low THC high CBD. That's what everyone wants right now because lots to get into the main stream market with the CBD and there are benefits you can have THC that goes along with it. And at this point in time the higher THC varieties of the higher CBD in them as far as percentages are concerned. So what lots of companies want to do is cross our low TCH varieties with their high CBD varieties that come up with a low THC high CBD variety

Kirk: and that is that happening actively right now

Chris: it's happening but it's part of our breeding program even PAG or working on varieties but it's in the pipeline but it takes a few years to get the volume of seed together to be able to put it in the ground as a farm level and be putting you know quarters into the ground 160 acre parcels in the ground as a farmers concern depends how many acres people want but to get to that seed volume it's going it's a few years down the road.

Kirk:  Okay so and so you have a licensed for the grain. Have you have the license for the fibre correct and you're also breeding like are we not with some of the best breeders in the world in this area.

Chris:  Yes, we are. I mean we've been doing we've been doing this for a very long time and we record different varieties and crossbreeding to get what we're looking for but and any other and any and any other commodity that we grow it just doesn't stop. We know there's always newer better newer better newer better and we're breeding for what the end user wants and then whatever they want that's breed for where I can see the industry going is into you know a grain on the varieties fibre on the varieties and CBD only varieties that's actually happening in the medicinal side is starting to get things that way correct. And when when you're focusing on a certain thing fibre or grain and CBDs you can't necessarily take one you can't get them all in one shot is the day they have the best bang for the buck you're gonna have to get down to specific uses for fibre only like I said by fibre only grain only and CBD only varieties.

Kirk:  How much cultivated in the parkland for how much for this year coming year 2018. Do you have an eye this acreage.

Chris:  In 2017. We're close to eight thousand acres going in the wind area for this upcoming season. Are we likely to hit 2000 there was lots of over contracting that went on last season with with the beer companies there is there is a glutton overproduction of hemp in the country. Prices are dropping and it's you know it's frustrating Yeah well there was a big Korean market that hit that that was dehauled nut market and it was a bit unstable and it kind of fell apart and you know you're going into this season with a big demand and at the tail end of the season that demand drops off and then what you're left is with that oversupply of hemp and with an oversupply of any commodity prices drop and prices have to do some number crunching and stuff so I'd say and it's said it's a big issue and the one thing and problem with hemp is it's not easily storable. So where the grain and seed stocks you know against the two year if you're holding onto it for two years plus it can go rancid. You know I'd say it's a high oil. the seed is full of oils and.

Kirk:  Where do you see your co-op in five years.

Chris:  It depends had a tough game you know you have a season like last year where you come off 8000 acres of seed sales and happy farmers gain nine cents a pound for their hemp coming into this year we're back down to 2000 acres probably less than that because of overproduction and prices are going down you know and farmers are concerned and it's an unstable market like that. It's risky for I know it's risky.

kirk:  So we're overproduction. So what do you need to see happen for you to provide more hemp seed.

Chris:  We need we need we need a big market place. I mean the market the market the marketplace is there but it's still a niche market people are uneducated about the product slightly and the big companies and the big players are wary of taking something like that on you get a big company that wants to put that in his cereal and that's mainstream you know that's what we need to get the acres up to get the volume going.

kirk:  But I think there's a stigma out there that people wouldn't say are those hemp seed in my cornflakes.

Chris:  There is that stigma still like we talked about earlier. Most people still honest difference between hemp and marijuana and the fact that the two are not bedmates or their further is from . Yes they look the same. They smelled the same way the driving past the field. But you put a marijuana plant anywhere near any hemp and it destroys it takes over the hemp . The males will seed it out eh at a certain point in time when the hemp when the hemp fields are pollinating it's just a yellow sea. Looks like a yellow cloud in the field and the dust flying and that's to find pollen and the males are pollen the females to make grain to make seed. Now what we want is a farmer what you want. At least of males as possible but males to do the job of pollination right. We can't be you know we try to do the best we can to get more females more females you have the more the more seed bearing plants will have in your field. But at the same time conditions will make more males come out and sometimes more females will pull through. So it depends on the season. Optimally you'll have the you know the right amount of females to male ratio and you'll put a thousand pounds an acre crop off and and you know everyone's happy but but that's where. Like I say with marijuana. It's it's a female only type of situation.

Don Dewar Interview 

Kirk: So now you guys are working on the whole CBD side

Don:  We're trying to get varieties you have CBD but the problem with CBD is to get the maximum CBD effect. I don't know what Martin told you but it should be harvested in about a two-week window. It also should be harvested when the plants really green. To get the highest. So if you harvest it and if you've got 100 acres. There's no mechanical system that will harvest that green product and get it into someplace that you can dry it fast enough that it's now starting to mould.  So the heat didn't mould what you've got how fast you've seen a pile of grass because how fast they get Yeah that's exactly what you do. So once you harvest it and it falls once you if you try to pick off the CBD put the parts that contained the CBD or in the head. Around in the flower around the seeds so you're going to take it when the seeds are green and high moisture all the flowers have high moisture and you have then you have to separate that afterwards the seed is not going to be viable so it's waste it's a waste product right. And so that's so that's part of the reason the CBD are so expensive because you have to do it by hand. Can you just grow a thousand acres of product and find a way to get it in. Couldn't you just squeeze the share. Not. Quick enough.

Kirk:  Because I mean I just I just spent I just spent a couple weeks back I spent some time in a guy's basement. He had ACMPR growers it was a medicinal grower of cannabis. Grow up in his basement they. Took some dried flower. Press the shit out of it pushed all the Rozum out of the flower. So what's stopping you guys from getting your flour into a great big pressure and just trust the hell out of it.

Don:  Before you do it. Martin Did that. He he took some bales. You're going to get lower CBD and not as good a call because you dried it because it's dry.

Kirk:  So then why don't you just take it from directly from the field and put it in a press and press immediately.

Don:  By the time he got it to the press it would be starting to mould and heat. He said because probably because it's so wet so green

Kirk: but CBD are everywhere. So somebody is 's harvesting it somehow.

Don:  They're doing it by hand. That's why it's so expensive. They're doing it by hand.