Spoiler alert: Throwing your hemp biomass in a plastic box and hoping for the best simply won’t cut it.
Storing hemp—be it for smokable bud or CBD oil extraction—requires a specific strategy. The various usable parts of hemp biomass can be very fragile. However, they can also be hugely valuable as long as they are taken care of and stored properly.
Hemp biomass is an umbrella term for the raw harvested hemp material, which includes hemp leaves, stalks, and seeds. After proper processing, this biomass can be used for supplements and medicinal purposes, repurposed into textiles, and even used to produce fuel.
Between harvesting and cultivating hemp, it’s essential for farmers to store the biomass properly; otherwise, they risk postharvest spoilage. If left to spoil or stored in the wrong way, the hemp biomass’s quality is likely to be adversely affected.
A Storage and Preservation Worst-Case Scenario: The Hemp-Tastrophe of 2019
Oregon’s hemp harvest in 2019 came with cool, wet weather, preservation challenges, and myriad storage issues for the farmers involved. Many of those farmers—many of whom had sunk thousands of dollars per acre into their hemp investment—never saw their expected ROI.
If you’re a hemp farmer, there are ways to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, which, of course, is easier said than done. Many of the factors that could result in your very own hemp-tastrophe—for example, weather or the hemp processing schedule that’s realistic for you and your region—may be out of your control.
Here’s the thing: If time and environmental factors are the enemies, investing in the appropriate storage techniques and tools for your hemp biomass can protect your materials from contaminants, moisture, and more. The right storage can even buy you time. A hemp-specific flexible intermediate bulk container (FIBC) can even help further preserve the biomass cannabinoid content—and resulting profit—that a farmer can reap.
Poor storage conditions, on the other hand, can result in withering profits and lots of frustration.
Challenges to Consider When Storing Hemp Biomass
Each of these factors could jeopardize the quality of your hemp biomass:
- Temperature: In order to remain optimally usable, biomass must be shielded from extreme temperatures. Your goal should be to store your biomass between 77-86 degrees Fahrenheit.
- UV light: Ultraviolet radiation can speed up the degradation process. Although not recommended, if you need to store hemp biomass outside for any period of time, it should be in containers that have a UV-protective coating.
- Humidity/Moisture: If hemp plants are allowed to retain a moisture content beyond about 12 percent, it’s more likely that they will fall prey to mold, bacteria, fungi, and even small insects.
- Oxygen: Exposure to oxygen can also cause the fragile compounds in the biomass to spoil through the process of oxidation (much like how iron rusts or avocados turn brown).
- Environmental Contaminants: Because hemp biomass is highly absorptive, just imagine the havoc that heavy toxins, such as local chemicals and pesticides, found in the storage environment within close proximity of the biomass could wreak. (Answer? A lot. This could lead to issues ranging from increased degradation to dangerous contamination that renders the product useless.)
With all of these influencing factors required to be just so to achieve a best-case hemp storage scenario, it could seem like hemp farmers just need to accept that some amount of degradation is par for the course.
Luckily, with high-quality hemp storage bags and updated harvesting and preservation techniques, hemp farmers don’t have to settle for reduced profits and increased waste.
Designing and Selecting the Best Bulk Bag for Your Business
Keep these factors in mind when you’re looking at FIBCs. (Hint: Working with a bulk bag manufacturer who knows the intricacies of working with hemp is a great idea!)
- Moisture, UV, and oxygen protection
- Something that works well with high-speed filling applications
- Something with an appropriate safe working load (300-500 pounds per bag)
- To be able to customize your bag (for aesthetics, branding, and food-grade material if that supports your business)
- Something that can be sealed properly to keep hemp shelf-stabilized
The materials scientists and FIBC experts at your bag manufacturer should be able to help you build a bulk bag perfectly poised for hemp packaging that’s ready to help streamline your operations. Make sure to ask about each of these factors as you’re going through the initial quoting and design process.
In Need of Hemp Biomass Bulk Bags? Sonoco Has Your Back
Hemp farmers stand to gain quite a bit from a relatively simple choice: selecting the right hemp biomass bulk bags for smart, profitable processing and storage. At Sonoco, we’re here to help hemp farmers work with true-to-life processing timelines and enable your team to preserve your hard work.
Recently, we even sat down to speak with hemp industry experts to discuss the latest hemp harvesting techniques to maximize ROI. Interested in learning more? Check out our webinar series today!