The hemp industry is booming at the moment due to the increasing demand for CBD products, and cultivation is a huge part of this industry. When buying wholesale CBD or working with a manufacturer to create white-label CBD products, it’s good to know where the hemp comes from and how it has been cultivated.
At SVC Labs, we take huge pride in our hemp plants. Principles of sustainability, quality, and honesty are at the forefront of everything we do. We are passionate about our plants, nature and agricultural technology and continuously strive for the purest CBD-opulent products that preserve the source and promote sustainability.
In this article, we will be sharing our expertise in the cultivation of hemp and telling you all about our process from start to finish.
Where We Grow Our Hemp
Our hemp plants are cultivated in Colorado in the USA. Over there, it is legal to grow industrial hemp with a THC content under 0.3%, and use this hemp to create fibres, hemp seed oils, or extract cannabinoids for CBD products.
Under state and federal law, the CDA (Colorado Department of Agriculture) must test all hemp plants for their THC content. This must be done post-decarboxylation – decarboxylation is the process of heating hemp or cannabis in order to activate the compounds within the plant. Before decarboxylation, the THC is not activated and therefore won’t produce the psychoactive effects that it is renowned for. This is why it’s so important to test for THC content after the compounds have been activated.
Why Don’t We Grow Our Hemp in the UK?
It is legal to grow hemp in the UK, however, there are restrictions that prevent us from doing this in the CBD industry. You need to obtain a license from the home office that will ensure you follow certain rules and regulations surrounding the cultivation of hemp. Under these current controls, it will never be a profitable crop in the CBD business.
These rules state that you can only grow hemp to harvest the seeds in order to make hemp seed oil or to harvest the stalks in order to produce fibres. The flowers must be immediately destroyed and disposed of. This means that we can’t really produce CBD products from this hemp material – although CBD can be extracted from the whole hemp plant, the richest concentration of cannabinoids is found in the flowers.
On top of this, current UK guidelines state that UK growers aren’t actually allowed to extract cannabinoids from their hemp. So, even if we were able to get a good amount of CBD from the stalks of the plant, we would not be permitted to do so. Despite the fact that the THC content of hemp is so low (under 0.3%), it is still associated with illegal strains of Cannabis and is therefore often treated as a controlled substance. This is a shame since hemp is actually non-intoxicating and is extremely useful in all sorts of industries. In the past in the UK, it was used to make all sorts of essential products like paper, oil, fabric, ropes, and more!
These rules mean that all hemp used for CBD products must be imported from Europe or the USA. Unfortunately, this means that millions of pounds in potential revenue is channelled away from local UK farmers and agricultural businesses – an industry that is already suffering in the current political climate. However, we must follow these guidelines and hope that things may change in the future.
How We Grow Our Hemp
The first step in this process is ensuring that the soil is fit for cultivation. Although hemp is a very tolerant crop and can grow in most environments, it does absorb toxins from the soil it’s grown in. This means that – in order to create high-quality CBD products – it’s best to grow hemp in soil that is rich in organic materials.
The soil is tested for elemental sulfur, potassium sulfate, rock phosphate, and more. We must ensure that these levels remain stable throughout the entire growing process.
Next, the hemp seeds are sown throughout the soil. These must then be irrigated regularly and sufficiently throughout their growth. Irrigation refers to the processes of watering the plants with ditches and channels that allow the water to flow through organically.
The SVC Labs hemp plants are grown without any use of pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Hemp is an excellent crop to grow organically since it does not require a lot of supplementary nutrition and is pretty pest-resistant and disease-resistant.
How We Harvest Our Hemp
When determining when to harvest our plants, we must test them to find out the CBD content – as the CBD content will increase throughout growth. This is done frequently to ensure that our farmers make the best decision regarding harvest timing.
Our plants are then hand-cut, gathered, and immediately taken away to be dried at the drying facility. A drying facility simply consists of a well-ventilated building that uses fans to dry out the hemp plant material. The temperature in the facility cannot be too hot, however, as we don’t want the plants to try too quickly. If they dry at a slow pace, it produces a better hemp material product with a richer spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes. Once drying is complete, the hemp plant material is taken away for extraction.
The CBD Extraction Process
In order to extract the CBD from our freshly dried hemp plant material, we use a process called supercritical CO2 extraction. This allows us to pull all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and plant oils from the hemp in order to create a crude oil extract.
The supercritical CO2 extraction process starts by taking Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and exposing it to very low temperatures and very high pressure. This transforms it into a supercritical state – this essentially means that it transforms from a gas into a compound somewhere between being a gas and a liquid. This state allows it to travel like a gas, but absorb matter like a liquid.
Next, we pump the supercritical CO2 through a chamber containing the dried hemp plant material. It absorbs all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils from the plant and creates a mixture. We then depressurise this mixture which causes the CO2 to separate away from the rest, so we are left with our CBD extract in the form of crude oil.
We can take this process further with purification techniques in order to refine our CBD extract. You may already be aware that there are 3 different types of CBD extract – full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate. Full-spectrum contains a diverse mix of cannabinoids and terpenes including THC, whilst broad-spectrum has all traces of THC removed. CBD isolate has all extra cannabinoids and terpenes removed so that we are left with 99.9% pure CBD.
Winterisation is the process used to further purify the extract. We mix alcohol with the crude oil which causes all of the compounds to separate. This mixture is then frozen, ready for filtration. We use paper filters to remove all frozen fats, waxes, and lipids. The alcohol is then removed from the CBD oil solution using a rotary evaporator.
To find out more about our CBD extracts at SVC Labs, check out our other article here.