A key challenge that buyers are facing this year is separating fact from fiction around performance claims of hemp genetics.
This webinar brought together a slate of expert panelists who discuss compliance, licensing, certification, and some common false claims that we’re seeing in the marketplace. We also provide concrete steps that all of you can take to ensure your genetic suppliers are reputable, and can deliver a product that will perform as promised in the field. You can watch the full webinar here.
Meet Our Panelists
Rachel Hankins is joining us from Oregon State University. She’s an instructor, a seed certification specialist, and is the Hemp Program Coordinator with the Oregon Seed Certification Service. She works with new and novel hemp varieties being entered into the program, and was pivotal in developing the OSU Certified Hemp Program. Rachel works with national and regional seed certification bodies. She’s an ISTA certified sampler, and she provides training to all the OSU seed samplers.
Courtney Barnes is an Associate Attorney at Vicente Sederberg LLP, where she focuses on hemp law, policy, and regulatory compliance. In a constantly evolving legal landscape, clients look to Courtney to help them navigate the complex regulations governing their production, manufacture, and distribution of hemp, and hemp products in the U.S.. Courtney has extensive experience drafting and helping to implement state and local cannabis regulatory regimes, relating to various aspects of the industry.
JP Kaloi is the Compliance Manager at High Grade Hemp Seed, one of the largest feminized hemp genetics producers in the world. Prior to joining High Grade, JP held positions in several prominent medical marijuana and CBD extraction companies. He spent nearly a decade in various roles at Bayer Crop Sciences, breeding and supply chain organizations that included managing pre-foundation and foundation seed production. In his current role, he’s responsible for High Grade’s reporting and licensing with the Colorado Department of Agriculture seed certification, as well as other licensing and compliance requirements for export into other states. My name is Trish Thomas, the CEO of TEEM, a marketing agency in Colorado that works with a number of clients in the hemp industry. I’m going to be facilitating today.
Moderated by Trish Thomas, CEO of TEEM, a full-service marketing agency in Denver, Colorado with multiple clients in the hemp space.
Courtney, can you tell us briefly about the history of legalization, and regulation for hemp?
Courtney Barnes: Sure. As you said, hemp has been cultivated worldwide for thousands of years, and has thousands of different uses, including textiles, construction materials, personal care products, food, etc. Hemp was cultivated in the United States up until the 1930s when the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act made cultivation a lot more onerous and expensive. Over the next several years, as a result of misplaced anti-drug sentiment that confused hemp with marijuana, and a variety of other political and cultural factors, it became more and more difficult to grow hemp in the United States from a regulatory standpoint.
The passage of the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970s defined marijuana as encompassing all parts of the plant except for sterilized seeds and stalks, which effectively outlawed the domestic cultivation of hemp in the United States. Then in 2014, we started to see this re-experimentation with domestic cultivation with the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. That bill created a limited pilot program for state departments of agriculture and institutions of higher education to cultivate hemp for research purposes. And then in 2018, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, and that effectively removed hemp from the definition of marijuana under the CSA.
It classified hemp as an agricultural commodity, and swapped regulatory oversight from the DEA to the USDA. Now we’re in the process of implementing this new commercial program with the 2014 Farm Bill program sunsetting in the next year. Now states are starting to implement hemp programs that allow license holders to cultivate, harvest, and sell hemp for commercial purposes subject to both federal, and state requirements.We’re seeing this new industry reemerge that was outlawed for about half a century.
JP, what are the various uses for the hemp plant, and the type of hemp genetics that farmers are working with today?
JP Kaloi: Courtney went over some of the traditional uses as far as fiber production for textile. More recently, we’re seeing production for smokable flower, and even more so for extraction, whether that’s for isolate, or for distillate. CBD has been one of the best-known cannabinoids that have been extracted from the plant. CBG is another one that is not new, but is getting more attention these days. The great thing about hemp is there’s also the potential of having a tri crop, where you could produce cannabinoids, seeds, and fiber, and that’s new to a lot of conversations with genetic production.
Beyond what it’s meant for, the great thing about cannabis is that there are a lot of other uses for the byproducts, whether it’s hempcrete or other byproducts like mulch. There are a lot of current uses, and a ton of potential for the plant beyond what we’re using it for today.
What are the different types of hemp genetics on the market, and what’s significant about feminized hemp seeds that are optimized for cannabinoid production?
JP Kaloi: There are a few different genetics available. There’s industrial hemp genetics that were developed mostly for textile production. They weren’t really developed for cannabinoid production. I think Courtney touched upon a really important point. When hemp was separated from marijuana legally, the definition is that it’s below 0.3%. Any farmer who wants to grow hemp is interested in maintaining that compliant trait. Beyond that, I think it’s what the intended end use is, for the hemp a farmer is planning to grow. These days, genetics for extraction of oil is pretty popular.
In any booming industry, there’s often a lot of fraud, misinformation, and confusion that hits the marketplace, and we’re seeing that now in the hemp genetics market. What are some of the top complaints you’re hearing from farmers?
JP Kaloi: If I were to rate it, I’d say it depends on the company you’re dealing with. I think farmers need to do the research, to verify their source. It’s also going to depend on a lot of the state requirements. Some of the states are requiring some of the farmers do a little bit more digging. Through that digging, things become less murky.
Courtney Barnes: I think a lot of it just because this is a new industry, and the 0.3% threshold is such a finite number. In a lot of states that don’t have years of experience cultivating hemp, or that are just now coming online, it’s really hard to tell whether the performance of seeds in one area will be the same as halfway across the country. I think the predictability of THC content and cannabinoid content generally is something that people are struggling with. Then also your traditional seed issues, like germination rates and receiving the product as it’s labeled.
What are the main points of confusion you’re seeing on the seed certification front?
Rachel Hankins: I see a lot of confusion about what certified seed is. A lot of companies in the marketplace are saying they are selling certified seed, but what they really mean is that they have seed that’s been tested. It’s been tested for germination or feminization rates, but it hasn’t actually gone through a seed certification process. I think once people get familiar with what we call “blue tag seed,” I think that they’ll start looking for that as an assurance of the genetics they’re getting.
Can you share how the national and state level seed certification programs are responding to the legalization of hemp? What are they doing to help provide proven, verified genetics?
Rachel Hankins: All the seed certification agencies in the U.S. operate under our umbrella, which is the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies, or AOSCA. Several years ago, we started revamping our standards, because we have field standards. We have inspection standards, purity in germination, and feminization rate standards. Those have been around for years out of Canada, which is a member of our agency. And they had the food, fiber, and grain varieties. All our standards were outdated for the CBD and CBG varieties that you’re starting to see, so we had to start amending those a few years ago.
Just last week, they were doing their first Variety Review Board for the varieties that are coming in. So hopefully within the next month or so, we’ll actually see certified varieties out there. Right now, each state is doing it on their own. Colorado has a very robust variety review program that they’ve had with field trials, but that’s a huge undertaking for any single state to take. I’m really glad that the national level is stepping up for that. In Oregon, we’ve been doing inspections under our Experimental Line Program.
So, we’re doing all of the seed source verification. We’re doing the field inspections, we’re doing all the seed tests, just like you would for certified seed, but we’re putting them in a holding pattern until the National Review Board comes out with a recommendation on those varieties. If and when those varieties are accepted, then we will happily put the certified tags on them. It’s just a way for people to get that seed ready, and waiting for that blue tag.
What does the legal landscape look like when it comes to buying hemp seed? What are suppliers’ obligations to share data or back up their claims?
Courtney Barnes: As Rachel touched on, hemp seeds are regulated under a few bodies of law, both at the federal and state levels. You have the 2018 Farm Bill, which allows for the cultivation of viable seed to produce hemp. Then you have your 2014 Farm Bill pilot programs, which is the same thing – the cultivation authorization. Then the state hemp programs which provide a little bit more detail, and regulatory standards. For example, you have to be a licensed cultivator, but a lot of state hemp programs also require that if you’re going to sell viable seed, you need to have an agricultural hemp seed producer license as part of the hemp program. Then on top of that, you also have your Federal Seed Act, and then the state equivalents of the State Seeds Acts.
Those regulate labeling, truthfulness, and advertising but are applicable to more than just hemp seeds. They apply to agricultural and vegetable seeds as well. With respect to the second part of your question with sharing data and backing up claims – that really depends on each hemp program, but there are overarching laws, under the Federal Seed Act and federal advertising laws about truthfulness and advertising. The Federal Seed Act gets a bit more specific in labeling requirements, and you have to keep records that back up all of the information on your label. The law requires that your advertising and record keeping are truthful.
That’s pretty substantial pursuant to each state hemp program as well, with respect to just cultivation quantity and things like that. But it’s going to be the substantiation of whatever information and whatever claims you’re making about the label. That’s what we’re required to keep data on, to substantiate claims.
On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate the level of trust and transparency in the hemp genetics market this year?
Rachel Hankins: Most of the companies I work with are really trying to be transparent. But I have a very skewed vision of it, because I’m not purchasing. We’re an independent third party. So, the people who are contacting me are being very trustworthy, transparent, and upfront. But again, I’m super skewed the wrong direction, I think.
JP Kaloi: I can’t really comment on other companies. I don’t know their efforts, but High Grade is most certainly trying to go through the process, and do it the right way. They are being very transparent with all the regulators, and get all of our documents in place so we can provide that to our customers when requested. I’m also a little skewed on the way I view this industry.
Courtney Barnes: As a lawyer, our job is to help people have all the tools, and the right documentation, and be in compliance with the federal and state laws. The people we work with are trying to be responsible, diligent, compliant operators, and have contracts to enforce that. But we are seeing increased litigation in the space with respect to buyers saying that these seeds providers advertise that the seeds have much higher germination and feminization rates than they actually do when you get them in the field. There is a definite increase in litigation with respect to misrepresentation in seed and genetics purchasing.
What are the licenses required to sell hemp genetics, and how buyers can verify that their supplier or sales representative is licensed?
Courtney Barnes: Virtually all states in the hemp program require you to either be a licensed cultivator, or additionally, either a licensed hemp seed producer or agriculture hemp seed distributor. And usually, there are records you can search to determine whether an operator is at least licensed and in good standing. Some states vary with respect to the amount of information on each pilot program registrant, or hemp program licensee. But generally you can access that information through the State Department of Agriculture, both for the hemp programs, and then for certified seed dealers. A lot of that is available online. Also, if you’re negotiating with potential sellers, you will want to request that license from them as well.
Do you have any tips for how people can verify the seed certification of suppliers, for strains they’re considering purchasing?
Rachel Hankins: Yeah. Basically, if you don’t see a certified tag on there with the AOSCA logo, it’s not certified. That’s the key point. You can always reach out to the on the AOSCA website, for contact information for each of the state certifying agencies. Looking at that will give you the contact information for the people you need. I’ve reached out to several different managers to say, “Hey, this person on the web says that they have certified seed. I don’t see an analysis tag. I don’t see a field inspection report, or anything else that’s going to help back up that claim.”
The other way AOSCA is serving the industry is that we’re not just looking at field production of seed. We have greenhouse standards and clone standards that are coming out. We’re trying to figure out how we can certify transplants so that you could buy a certified seedling of hemp. We’re really trying to help the industry, because it is different than anything that’s out there. You don’t have these super complex different cultivation schemes in any other conventional crop.
We know Oregon is setting the gold standard right now in seed certification. Can you tell us a few things you are doing in Oregon that are unique, or are particularly helpful in validating performance and sourcing?
Rachel Hankins: We are relying on the National Variety Review Board, or a plant variety protection, or a patent in order to accept the varieties into our program. We’re really making sure that those genetics are what they say they are. All of our standards have to meet the AOSCA minimums. That’s the rules, but our standards are actually set by a group of hemp producers, breeders, and growers in Oregon. And they can choose to set our standards higher than those AOSCA minimums, which they have chosen to do. The minimum for feminization rate at the national level is 99%, and Oregon’s is currently 99.9%. Also, instead of having three miles of isolation, you have to have four miles of isolation from any other cannabis plants. Really, we’re doing a lot of greenhouse production, and a lot of those have HEPA filters. They’re still greenhouses.
They have all of these fancy schmancy things to exclude any outside pollen coming in. And I think all of those things are really setting Oregon apart from other producing areas. That’s really what our growers want – they want to be the gold standard.
What can farmers do to protect themselves contractually against fraud, at the time of purchase? What should be included in contracts for hemp seed or starts?
Courtney Barnes: Making sure you have a contract to begin with is a great first step. You definitely want the agreement in writing. You want the agreement to specify that it overrides any verbal agreements or affirmations, and it is the one form that provides all of the terms and conditions for purchase. And you really want both attestations of compliance by the buyer and the seller, that they’re licensed and lawfully able to make the sale, and they’re not infringing the property rights. Those are your standard terms. You want to ensure your choice of law is in a good state, like at the hemp program and hemp laws that may be relevant to the particular claims that would be a term of the contract. And then you really want strong representations and warranties, for your purpose or particular use.
And any of the label claims that you would be buying it for, especially in some states where the certification for the hemp programs is based on THC content. Just anything that may come up from a quality and compliance standpoint, you want that articulated in writing as well. Also, with respect to seeds, you need a reasonable time for inspection and rejection. You can break it into two parts, and have a visual inspection component that must be conducted within 48 hours, and then a receipt, and you have an opportunity to reject based on visual inspection.
Then there’s also, if it’s negotiable, an inspection window for germination, which is somewhere around 30 days or so. That’s if you pass visual inspection, then you get a germination inspection window. We’ll see sometimes sellers provide a standard operating procedure for germination, to make sure they’re following exactly how they should be planted. Then also a window for either a refund or receiving more seeds, if the germination rate doesn’t deliver in practice. I think that’s a really good way to have the seeds, and test them with defined terms for either refunding or renegotiating if they don’t turn out to be as expected.
We’re seeing a lot of fake or altered COAs (certificates of authority) hitting the market. What can buyers do to ensure that COAs are legitimate?
JP Kaloi: One of the main things that I recommend is ensuring that those results, those COAs are coming from a third-party, accredited ISO laboratory. If the state regulators were to ask for that documentation, you need to know that the regulators would accept it as well. You could do an online search to verify those labs exist, and you could call the labs and ask some questions there as well.
Courtney Barnes: I think the independent laboratory is a huge one. Also, if there’s a way to match the COA with the batch, and to make sure that the COA actually corresponds to the seeds that you’re buying. You want to ensure that each line item of information corresponds to both the seeds as well as the inspection, or certificate of analysis data points.
What can farmers do to protect themselves against producers and brokers who share unrealistic ratios for THC to CBD, CBG, or other cannabinoids?
JP Kaloi: I just want to emphasize that third-party ISO accredited lab. You want to make sure that’s where the results originated from, not some fabricated document that someone can make up on a Word Document. Just to reiterate what Courtney and I said earlier, it’s just making sure that the documentation came from an ISO accredited laboratory.
They could take the report they received from the seed vendor, and email it to the lab and say, “Did this report come out of your lab?”
Is there any legal recourse, if farmers buy fraudulent genetics? Is it a “buyer beware” situation out there?
Courtney Barnes: It should never be a “buyer beware” situation, that’s the importance of contracts. The remedy that is available really depends on the terms of the contracts. There are certain opportunities for recourse through the Federal Seed Act and the State Seed Acts, as well as truth and labeling. But for the most part, it’s really protecting yourself with contracts, having indemnification provisions, or arbitration. You need to have all the procedures outlined about what happens in the event of a breach, and clear terms of what breaching your contract would be. As I hit on before, with your standard terms of ensuring that everything’s in writing, and that there’s no opportunity for a bill of sale or verbal affirmation to confuse what the guiding document is. That’s really important. There are opportunities for recourse, so long as you have strong contracts.
Where can people find the list of companies that have been through the OSU seed certification program?
Rachel Hankins: We do have a list of certified hemp seed producers on our website. Currently, there is only one company that has gone from start to finish. Just Google “Oregon Seed Cert,” and it will pop right up. There’s big flashing letters everywhere that says hemp, and just keep clicking on that. Eventually, you’ll get to the list. We will add more people as they come on. I think we have one more company who’s in the testing stage right now. But just again as a legal disclaimer – these are technically not certified yet, because we’re still under that experimental program. Some states are accepting them as meeting their certification requirements, and some states aren’t, so definitely check where you’re at.
What is the time and cost commitment, to get a seed certified?
Rachel Hankins: It’s not that much extra time for the producer, as long as they fill out the appropriate paperwork. It’s more just the logistics, because we have to do three inspections. We have to make sure we’re out there before pollination, but when the female flowers are visible. We have to be out there when the pollen donors are actively pollinating, and we have to do a third inspection to look for off types, or hermaphroditic branches, or anything like that. And then you just have to make sure you follow the steps. Once you miss a step, you can’t really go backwards. The process is pretty straightforward because it’s very logical, but learning the process might take a little bit of extra time.
The paperwork involved, I think, is where most people get hung up. But once you have the process down, I think it’s fairly painless, because it’s just remembering to schedule your inspections.
Each state sets their own costs for inspections. You’ll have to check with your local state certifying agency to see what the costs are in that state.
Will there be a new standard of grading seed or biomass in the future, as a better way to compare what you’re buying or selling?
JP Kaloi: I believe that it’ll move more towards certification, because it actually will give more confidence to the farmers, and to the buyers that the genetics that they’re buying have gone through the processes that Rachel has explained.
Is it legal to send in biogenetics in the mail?
Courtney Barnes: As a lawyer, I’d say it depends. There are a variety of regulations that would apply. For example, in many states you aren’t allowed to possess or use viable hemp seed without a hemp program license. So, that wouldn’t necessarily be the mail aspect directly. But the purchase and sale, no matter the means, is regulated. In addition, there are different rules that apply for importing seeds into different states, whether it’s at the agricultural, pest, and disease level, or a seed being certified. For example, in Texas pursuant to its program, it may not be legal to have or sell seeds aren’t certified.
In the mail, from a U.S. postal service standpoint, so long as what you’re selling is 0.3% THC or less, they do allow the mail of hemp products. If you’re going to use a private carrier, there are different policies that apply. Some won’t allow you to, and some will, with respect to plants, clones, or genetics. But I suppose it’s not illegal on its face, to do so.
JP Kaloi: It’s just ensuring that it’s legal in the areas that the seed is shipping to, and following whatever regulations that state has for those.
Do you have any early test results for Matterhorn?
JP Kaloi: Sure. I just pulled up a lab result from a sample that we sent to a lab, and we had it test over 15% CBGA. So, good test results.
Is it illegal to take clones off a plant that someone originally purchased?
Courtney Barnes: Not necessarily, as long as you have the rights to use them. There are definitely instances where you’re buying a limited license to use the seeds for one harvest. And especially, if there are intellectual property considerations involved. But so long as you’re lawful to have a hemp plant as a generic hemp plant, and you’re allowed to cultivate it, then there wouldn’t be a problem necessarily with using a clone from the mother plant. But there may be different requirements that apply with respect to tracking, and record keeping. The amount of hemp you’re planting, and those considerations.
Can you legally ship CBG flower to other states?
Courtney Barnes: If it’s hemp, and it’s tested, and you have your COA and your documentation to show that it is hemp, yes. It’s not a controlled substance, so it’s not federally unlawful to ship through the mail. It would just depend on where it’s being shipped to and whether there are any restrictions on possession. For example, in Idaho, there are no hemp laws. So in that state, while the transport may be allowed under the 2018 Farm Bill, possessing hemp flower in that state is the equivalent of possessing marijuana. So you just want to be careful that you know where it’s going, and you have the documentation to prove that it is hemp. Because even if it is totally lawful, there’s still a pretty decent risk of enforcement just because of how new the industry is and the fact that it looks like cannabis. It’s hard to tell on the spot.
What are some common sense best practices that farmers can leverage to protect themselves, so they know they are working with a trustworthy genetics company?
Rachel Hankins: I would definitely look for them participating in certification, obviously. If they’re outside of certification, I would still make sure they have either a plant variety protection, or a patent on their genetics.That means that they’re really proud of their genetics, and they’re working towards those IP protections. Also, make sure to do a Google search on them, to see if there is anyone who is really upset with them, or something’s going on. We all know to take Yelp reviews with a grain of salt, but you’ll be able to see how a company handles those bad reviews.
Then, there’s always the option of asking for those test results for the purities, for the germs, and making sure that what you have really reflects what’s there. You can always test the seed yourself. Once you’ve purchased the seed, you can always do an independent test yourself just to make sure that what they said is what you got.
Very helpful. JP, when High Grade’s working with a prospective customer, what do you have available to provide in terms of validation? And what do you recommend if somebody has a supplier that’s not able to share documentation or references?
JP Kaloi: We try to provide as much documentation to the customer as needed. Depends again on the state requirements, and the state programs. In the past, we have sent our CDA hemp licenses for cultivation or our CDA seed dealers permit, if the states require that, where the sales going into. We provide the seed labelers permits in those states. We provide the COAs to show the performance, and the compliance of being below 0.3% for that variety. And then the germination results, we provide the germ results that are going to be accompanied onto the label that they’re going to receive the seed. They’ll be able to cross reference that. And then again, beyond that, upon request, we can also provide feminization results as well.
What are some ways that farmers and buyers can conduct their own due diligence on a genetics partner?
Courtney Barnes: I think pretty much what you have available online, and then requesting documentation are the big ones. Licensing, record keeping, certificates of analysis, demonstration, happy customers. All of those things to do your diligence.
What should buyers do when they have received their seed, to continue to protect themselves against false germination or feminization claims?
Rachel Hankins: When you receive the seed, it’s always a good idea to keep a copy of all of your labels. I also would recommend keeping a sample of that seed, throw it in the back of your fridge or something, just so that if anything goes wrong, you have a sample of what was sent to you. As I mentioned it before, you can always take a sample of that seed, and take it to the lab of your choice. Do a germination and a feminization test if you want, before you plant that seed. If you’re really excited about new genetics, and it’s a new company and you’re not really sure about it, do that test. That is insurance for you, that you’re not going to end up roguing out half of your field or even plowing it under. I mean, those would be your options. And keeping the seed sample if something does go wrong later on, then you have proof of this was what was sent to you.
JP Kaloi: As best you can, do the research, and buy from the direct original seed breeders. Verify that the strain is licensed for production and sale by your supplier, if you’re getting it outside of that original breeder themselves.
What can farmers do once they have their seeds or start in the ground, to help ensure their crop is going to remain compliant, and deliver strong yield and profits?
Courtney Barnes: I would say just good record keeping, and document collection. Make sure you’re observing and taking notes, and you have a robust documentation protocol at each stage and the timeline for each. That way, even if you can’t prevent something bad from happening the first time, you’ll be able to avoid repeating the same mistakes or working with certain business players, if that ends up being the case too.
Trish Thomas: I would encourage everyone also to follow the planting and cultivation guidelines, anything that’s shared by your supplier. Lean on those local resources, as you’ve heard us say a lot through the course of the panel. Things vary a lot state to state, and hemp has grown in a huge variety of geographic regions, climate zones, and different field conditions. Talk to your local ag experts too, and pull those local community knowledge sources so that you’re dealing with information that is unique to your area.
JP Kaloi: I would test early and often as possible. What Courtney had talked about before with hemp genetics, and in some of the areas that some of these genetics have not been grown before, some of the performance is not known. With that understanding, there’s going to be some caution from any reputable seed dealer to let you know that you should be testing early and often to avoid any compliance issues.
What are your key predictions for the hemp industry for the next few years?
JP Kaloi: What I hope is that the FDA, and other regulatory bodies that are lagging on the back end of production, would help facilitate the smooth process flow of the supply chain being grown out there, and some of those regulations being set. I think the USDA and the IFR right now, they are still not so final. I think they’re still looking at some of those requirements that the USDA came up with. I think we’ll see some of that continue to evolve, hopefully, with some input from farmers, seed producers, and people on the other side of harvest, so we can make common sense regulations.
Rachel Hankins: I’m hoping you’re going to see a lot more certified seed. You’re going to see a lot more varieties go through the review process. I think you’ll start to see some of the better varieties becoming more widespread and well known, and hopefully have less uncertainty when you’re buying those genetics.
Courtney Barnes: I agree with both of them and their points. I also think we’ll see increased sophistication with respect to testing, and being able to increase potential cannabinoid contents of various different plant compounds in cannabis. Especially with the minor cannabinoids. It’ll be interesting, I think, to see how advances in agriculture are able to keep up with the biosynthetic production, and the synthetic production of CBG and CBN, and how that industry adopts to this specialized agricultural landscape.
How has the hemp industry been affected by COVID-19? Has there been an early impact estimates on sales numbers?
JP Kaloi: I think farmers are going to be more discerning with their source of their seeds. It’s going to be more important for farmers to ensure the quality of the source genetics. We’re seeing farmers ask more questions, and rightfully so. As far as sales are concerned, I haven’t seen a whole lot of numbers right now, but I would think that farmers are debating a lot. They have lots to consider this year.
Do you predict there will be counties that only allow farmers to use feminized seed, to prevent cross-pollination?
JP Kaloi: With seed production, they control pollen flow, and Rachel talked about that for the purpose of mitigating any type of contamination through seed production. Beyond that, I don’t know how much they’d be able to regulate that. The need for it is obvious, right? I’ve heard many times that there’s no such thing as “seedless hemp,” And you named a state because of some of the issues from having non-feminized seed, not even from your own field, but from your neighbor or your neighbor’s neighbor on the other side. There’s a reason Rachel and the certifying bodies have isolation requirements for pollen flow, for those reasons.
Why do most hemp seed companies have minimum quantities on seeds?
JP Kaloi: To be able to answer specifically why the quantities were set, I do know that with the year we’re having right now, High Grade has reconsidered the minimum order requirements. So give one of our sales reps a call, and see what we can do. Many seed supplies will be willing to work with you.
What’s the earliest you can test a plant? How big do the plants need to be?
JP Kaloi: Once you’re going into flower, we do early leaf ratio for development of our lines to be able to get some indication of what those end ratios will be. For farmers beyond the COAs, I would say any type of guidance from the genetics companies on when to test. It could vary in variety. I’ve heard people start testing as early as three to four weeks in the flower. Make sure to check with your genetics company, and your salesmen that you’re working with.
Can you rename hemp strains and use the same lab results?
JP Kaloi: There’s a whole process with variety names. The truth and labeling that Courtney touched on earlier has to do with that. I would refer people to the USDA for variety-naming information. But it is certainly something that we would not do, to rename a strain just to match lab results.
Do you think that the post-harvest material growing from certified seed will have greater market value?
JP Kaloi: I don’t know about the market value. With certified seed, it brings certain assurances, and crop insurance. There are certain implications towards crop insurance, and in using certified seed as a source. With Florida, we’ve seen that. Florida is the one state that they require farmers to grow certified seed or approved seed. So, the value of that seed is the ability to actually participate in the program.
There’s also that niche market of smokable flower, and having certified biomass that it came from that genetics. I think a lot of people that may be on this call possibly have some experience in the marijuana side. A lot of times you’re told what type of flower you’re buying, and it’s just on the word of the guy you’re getting it from. So certification would lend that to the biomass on the back side, for that smokable flower.
Got you. And I guess this is going to be one of the first seasons that we see what happens, with certified biomas.
A lot of this conversation has centered on things that we learned from our parents. Like “stranger danger.” You need to know who you’re dealing with. Do your homework, even if you’re an industry newbie. Dig in and do some research. Learn and follow the rules.
In the hemp industry, there are a lot of rules, and they vary widely from state to state, but the rules are there to protect you. And of course, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I’d like to thank all of you for joining us today. We really hope that this webinar will help all of you have a very successful season farming hemp.
We’re sharing a lot of great content on our website, and we’re just getting rolling with our HempTruth Initiative. I would encourage all of you to go to hemp-truth.com. On that site, there’s a buyer checklist that will walk you through some of the steps we’ve talked about today. You can use it as a tool as you’re going through the genetics purchasing process.