Growing and processing hemp and cannabis is an involved process from start to finish. Both operations can be impacted by several similar problems, such as mold growth and decomposition that can ruin the product and set back deadlines. Ensuring that hemp and cannabis are harvested and packaged safely to reach the processing facility, as well as getting the hemp processed into CBD or other products and packaged for end destinations, are vital supply chain tasks that require suitable hemp storage bags.
Selecting just any FIBC bags for the job may not be appropriate for farmers and processors who use various equipment and harvesting techniques. In this article, we will provide you with information on which hemp storage bags are the right fit for packing processes for hemp farmers and hemp processors to ensure the highest levels of productivity and quality.
For Small Scale Hemp Farming: Duffle and Uncoated BulkSak® Hemp Bags
Small scale hemp farmers usually rely on manual means to cut, notch and load hemp plants. Growing hemp requires understanding the different maturity rates of the seeds and fibers as the stalk, leaves, stems and flowers will be used to make CBD products. Some operations will begin the hemp harvesting by using hand sickles or machetes as the workers will cut as low to the base as possible to gather the entire stalk. Once cut, the hemp biomass may be bagged and taken directly to the hemp processor, or the farmer will hang the hemp to dry.
Packaging the hemp will depend on the processor's requirements or the end product for which the plant will be used. Small farmers may bag the entire hemp biomass, including the stalk, branches and flowers. Other times, the stem will be shucked, leaving only the hemp flowers to be bagged. For these small scale operations, duffle top BulkSak® bags that are uncoated are the recommended solution.
Uncoated duffle top bags made of virgin polypropylene fabric provides adequate breathability between the stalks, leaves and flowers to inhibit mold growth. There are various customizable sizes, including 35" x 35" x 50," as these bags have a roomy duffle top opening allowing workers to place in the dried hemp. They also come in various loop styles for ease of lifting when harvesting hemp by hand, such as four-point and cross corner designs.
For Large Scale Hemp Farming: Spout Bottom FIBC Hemp Bags
With larger hemp fields and acreage to harvest and dry, more automated hemp harvesting equipment will be in place. Sickle mowers, disc mowers and specialized CBD harvesters can cut several acres of stalks per day. Then, once the stalks are hung and dried, they will be placed in a bud stripper to separate the biomass and remove the flowers. Combines with a specialized header will be used when strictly harvesting hemp seed.
When using bud strippers, automatic packaging equipment may be attached that allows the biomass to go directly into the available bags. These operations require bulk bags with fill and discharge spouts. Bag sizes can differ based on the operations, as some farmers can utilize the 36" x 36" x 46" or the 35" x 51" x 38" sizes. Here at Conitex Sonoco, we can create customized sizes to hold the standard 300- 500 lbs typically found in hemp processing and storage.
In addition, FIBC bags offering standard 1.0 mil poly coatings are ideal to provide further moisture control and to prevent contamination. While these bags can assist with moisture control, always being aware of the humidity level in your hemp’s storage environment is essential to keep the unprocessed biomass ready for the processing facility which typically expects less than a 10% moisture level in stored and transported hemp.
For Hemp Processors: Vacuum Sealable Lined BulkSak® Hemp Bags
When it comes to hemp production, processors will have varying operational capabilities based on which manufacturers they work with and the types of products that will be created from the processed hemp. They will have hemp processing equipment for the plant flowers, stalks, fibers and seeds to cut down on the amount of waste that must be disposed of.
Processing Hemp Seeds
Hemp stalks will have both lower seeds that are fully mature and top seeds that have not reached the maturity stage. Bucking machines will be commonly used in large processing facilities (although some smaller processors may still do this task by hand), that will cut off the flowering head and sort the stalks that will move on to the fiber processes. To prevent the seeds from being damaged, conveyors are typically used to transfer the seeds to the dehulling, cleaning and kernel separation areas.
The top issue regarding packaging processes for hemp farmers and processors is to prevent contamination and damage to the hemp seeds. They need to be handled gently to prevent them from bursting, becoming infested, or turning rancid. Tube systems are normally implemented to cut down on dust and to minimize the amount of contact with the seeds. These systems may also be attached to bagging areas where FIBC bags will be used. The bags will be filled at the top and then moved to the next area where the bags will open at the bottom to dump the seeds into the next processing machine.
Processing Stalks and Fibers
Once the hemp flowers and seeds are removed for CBD oil and related products, the fibers will be removed from the stalks to create a range of products such as rope, clothing and textiles. To remove the base fiber, a retting process may be used to rot or dissolve away the connecting tissues from the stalk. Another way to remove the base fiber is through decortication where the stalks are placed into a scutching machine then spins them to separate the materials and seed particles. This process creates long lines of hemp fiber as the fibers move on to the hackling process where the machine removes broken line fibers and hurd particles.
Whether processing the seeds or the fibers, you require bags that can hold and safely transport processed products between differing operational areas and to storage and shipping facilities. Types of bags that are recommended for these operations are lined bags that may have a standard fill spout, a cone fill spout or a full opening duffle. The bulk bags will also have a spout bottom or tie open bottom. These bags minimize the amount of handling of the processed products.
Our nitrogen flushed, vacuum sealable lined bags offer the optimal solution. They are made from UV resistant fabric which allows them to be stored for longer periods of time outdoors, (we still recommend use of a bag cover in this situation). The process of nitrogen flushing and sealing the liner makes it suitable for combustible materials as it removes oxygen while improving retention of CBD oil. Liners will also protect the seeds and fibers from moisture penetration, as mold growth is prevented. These bags also have various closures including star/pedal/iris or string/pajama to further control the amount of materials that come through the spout as well as to protect the spout opening.
Consider Partnering with Conitex Sonoco
Since packaging processes for hemp farmers and processors can differ for each operation based on the types of products that will be created from the hemp, having versatile harvesting and processing bags created specifically for your operations is a cost-effective benefit.
Check out the turn-key solutions that Conitex Sonoco provides as we offer FIBC bags, liners, special bulk bag pallets, paperboard sheets and other accessories. Fill out our hemp bulk bag application assessment to get started on the perfect solution for your hemp farming or processing needs.