Hemp is a booming industry in the United States. Industrial hemp, which is non-psychoactive, refers to the parts of the cannabis plant that are grown and processed specifically for industrial use. The appearance of hemp in medicinal products, skincare and beauty products, oil and vitamin supplements, building materials, biofuel, and even pet products is expanding in popularity.
With a rise in hemp products, the need for hemp processing plants to supply the demand is ever-growing. Here at Tuffman, our products help hemp farmers and manufacturers maximize their hemp and cannabis processing capabilities. Farmers who harvest hemp go through an extensive process to ensure each plant is preserved to yield the best results. Below, we’ll walk through critical aspects of hemp processing and how Tuffman equipment can aid in the preservation process.
What Is Hemp Processing?
Hemp processing is the system of preparing a hemp product to be sold by distributors. Hemp processing for hemp fibers consists of trimming the buds off the stalks, drying the retted fiber, and curing the plant to ensure top results from a given hemp harvest. Hemp processing also preserves the seeds and stalks of hemp plants to be used in different applications.
Hemp Processing for Hemp Fibers
The first step to hemp processing is trimming the hemp plant. When the plant is ready to harvest, farmers need to carefully trim the plant to preserve the bud. The goal in trimming hemp plants is to cut away the stalks from the top of the plant where the buds are contained while keeping the buds clean and intact. The buds contain the most valuable part of the hemp and are especially important if the goal is to extract CBD from a plant. However, the buds are incredibly fragile and can be easily crushed in the trimming process if not done carefully.
After the hemp is trimmed it should be removed to a drying facility immediately, where it may take up to a week to dry properly. Each step of the hemp processing system is crucial, but if done incorrectly the drying phase can ruin the product entirely.
The retted fibers in hemp buds need to be dried to 10-15% moisture to be usable. If the buds have too much moisture they easily mold, and if they don’t have enough moisture they are useless. To dry hemp buds correctly, ventilation, temperature, and humidity controls are a must.
One of the best ways to dry hemp buds is to use screens to hang or lay the buds individually. Often, because of the different sizes of each hemp plant in a harvest, some will take longer to dry than others. Screens help to individually separate the plants so they can more easily be checked. With screens, you can easily remove the plants that are already dry and keep the plants that still need a few days to be dried properly.
To dry properly, it’s important to place the screens in a room that is constantly kept below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and where the humidity can be controlled through ventilation. Ventilation helps to remove the wet air from around the bud and replace it with dry air. The drying process keeps the flower from browning and helps preserve the taste from going bad.
Hemp plants should be dried to the point where the little stalk remaining on the plant can easily snap in half. Curing can be done manually or with equipment. It involves removing the last bits of moisture from the buds while keeping the bud’s original shape and color.
Hemp Processing for Seeds and Stalks
After the bud is properly trimmed from the stalk and processed for optimal use, the hemp stalk can also be manufactured. Stalks need to be cleaned and dried as well as the buds, though the process isn’t as temperamental. After going through the retting process, stalks can be turned into fibers, chords, or cloths. Or, the stalks can be fermented and turned into ethanol or biofuel.
Hemp seeds can burst easily, and are therefore very delicate. Seeds also go through a drying phase before they are further processed. After a seed is dried, it is cleaned or dehulled to remove residue and the outer skin of the seed. Dehulling machines are useful in removing the outside shell from the hemp seeds. Gentle conveyors can help move the seeds from one phase to another to keep the fragile seeds from bursting.
Hemp Processing Equipment
Having hemp processing equipment is a crucial step in getting the best harvest possible from the many fragile parts of the hemp plant. The most crucial and universal part of hemp processing, whether it’s for the buds, stalks, or seeds is the drying stage. Screens are essential hemp processing equipment to ensure proper drying. Additionally, smooth and gentle conveyors, along with proper trimmers are also crucial in hemp processing. Here at Tuffman, we are invested in providing equipment to aid in the process of harvesting hemp.
Come work with us! Use our form to fill out the information about your company and include your hemp processing equipment needs in the comments. We’ll then send you a personalized response to show you how Tuffman can help meet your hemp processing equipment needs.