A series of unfortunate events in the hemp biomass industry has yielded practical lessons about the benefits of bulk packaging as well as best practices in the use of bulk bags for proper storage and preservation of hemp biomass material.
The hemp biomass industry, in particular, has many specific processing and storage needs surrounding CBD extraction. Hemp biomass used for CBD extraction comprises the aerial parts of the plants where CBD is present—primarily, the flowers, stems, and leaves.
For harvesting plants in the field, a standard, uncoated bulk bag is sufficient for the collection of the harvested plant. After the hemp plant has been harvested, the plant is dried to an optimal moisture level prior to mechanical or manual separation, or “bucking.” For proper storage, hemp should be dried to a moisture level of less than 10 percent, 7 percent being ideal.
"For proper storage, hemp should be dried to a moisture level of less than 10 percent, 7 percent being ideal."
If the plant will go directly to be processed, the standard uncoated bulk bag is sufficient for transport and storage time of fewer than five days. Otherwise, dried hemp waiting for CBD extraction should be moved from the standard bulk bag to a lined bulk bag and hermetically sealed to suspend the quality of the hemp biomass for future processing.
Why? CBD oil volatilizes faster than any other plant oil. Moisture and heat cause it to degrade rapidly. After three months of improper storage, an expected CBD yield of 17 percent from fresh hemp could dwindle to 2 percent. Improper storage techniques and materials can also leave the hemp biomass vulnerable to other concerns, such as mold, bacteria, fungus, or even self-combustion.
Unfortunately, this is far from theoretical. In an incident dubbed the “Hemp-tastrophe of 2019,” many hemp farmers lost a large percentage of their hemp crop to mold and mildew. Although a large portion of growers’ crops failed due to the availability of harvesting and drying equipment, the other portion of failure had to do with the growers not having a buyer lined up for their CBD oil prior to extraction. For these growers, a long-term storage solution could have helped salvage their harvest.
For these growers, a long-term storage solution could have helped salvage their harvest.
One such solution can be found in modified atmosphere packaging similar to that used for volatile or heat-sensitive products such as torrefied material or food items susceptible to spoiling. This type of packaging could protect farmers’ crops—and their investments. A moisture, heat, and sunlight protective bag would seal in the integrity of the hemp biomass and suspend degradation until market prices for CBD improve or until a buyer is lined up.
The result? With proper storage techniques, a sealed hemp biomass bulk bag could retain up to 35 percent more CBD oil than a standard storage solution. With proper hemp discharge and proper liner inspection between uses, these types of bags are often reusable too. This only compounds savings.
Here are six key best practices that we have learned from the hemp biomass industry:
1. Growers and processors need to think ahead about hemp packaging.
Planning 5-6 months ahead when ordering bulk bag packaging is vital if you want to take full advantage of your packaging options. If you’re doing any type of custom branding, you’ll need to order even further in advance. Standard, uncoated bulk bags can be modified to work more efficiently with your processes and equipment, so planning will give you and your bulk bag supplier time to develop a solution that works best for your needs.
2. You need to have people and resources available for processing and packaging.
It’s very possible to lose your crop simply because the product degraded while waiting for drying or processing. Because there aren’t currently enough extractors and processors, you need to think ahead for this too. Getting in the queue for processing at the optimal time for your crop takes some forward-thinking.
3. You need access to the right post-harvest technology to be successful.
Unfortunately, the potential profits for hemp are often overblown. Those attractive numbers are definitely not attainable without the right tools. With proper packaging that keeps the hemp biomass unspoiled while waiting for processing, however, you can poise yourself for success. While this can be expensive for smaller farmers, forming cooperatives to invest in shared assets can enable even tiny operations to have access to cutting-edge technology.
4. All bulk bags do not function the same.
If there will be any delay between the harvesting, drying, and extracting of your crop, you need a very specialized bag. With a regular packaging product, you won’t have the ability to store your hemp properly for long-term use. That regular bag does nothing to keep your hemp biomass from spoiling.
5. Investing in proper storage can save your business.
If your product is properly stored, you can wait for your product to be highly desirable. Instead of selling off your supply before it goes bad, you’ll be enabled to get top dollar for your hemp biomass. The packaging system you choose should multitask. It should help you extract higher levels of CBD oil—up to 35 percent!—and retain top quality of your product.
6. Good-looking packages sell more products.
However, that’s not all that bulk packaging can do. A cleverly designed package can also help with marketing, sales, and brand identity. With the right strategy, your bulk packaging can be a sustainable solution and an active asset.
Think outside basic bulk packaging.
Ultimately, bulk packaging can be far more than just boxes and bags. Bulk packaging can create an ideal atmosphere for the contained product—for example, anaerobic environments and non-H2O-transferable conditions. The bag you use can also keep mold, bacteria, and fungus far from products, assets, or raw material.
Bulk packaging can make your product instantly recognizable. With the customizations available to you, you can have packaging printed in up to two colors on two panels with nice graphics for instant brand recognition.
Bulk packaging can allow you to optimize your timeline for maximum profit. Waiting six months for a superior market can double the value of your crop. Having the tools that allow you to wait for that top-dollar opportunity is invaluable.
Thinking ahead is necessary to unlock these benefits—as is having the right bulk bag supplier. At Conitex Sonoco, we’re a reliable source of both expertise and meticulously engineered packaging solutions. Our staff can help guide you to the right storage strategy for your business! For more information about our high-quality packaging products, reach out today.