Non-Flower Power — What Is Hemp Biomass And How Do We Use It?

Non-Flower Power — What Is Hemp Biomass And How Do We Use It?

Everyone who grows CBD hemp has one goal in mind: produce the biggest, stickiest flowers imaginable! Since these colas contain the highest concentration of cannabinoids, they will always remain the “crown jewel” of the hemp plant. However, that doesn’t mean cultivators should toss their hemp scraps in the dumpster. Indeed, there are many remarkable ways you could use your hemp trim (aka “hemp biomass”). 

While hemp biomass isn’t as “sexy” as well-cured hemp flowers, it plays a significant role in the CBD industry. Indeed, hemp biomass could help address the ever-growing demand for high-quality CBD products. 

Everything But The Bud — A Basic Definition Of Hemp Biomass 

In the plant world, “biomass” refers to non-essential materials. Technically, whatever manufacturers aren’t interested in is “biomass.” 

So, when we’re talking about “hemp biomass,” we’re referring to non-flower material (i.e., stalks, sugar leaves, and fan leaves). Anything that extractors trim off of their flowers could be considered hemp biomass. 

So, What Do You Do With Hemp Biomass? 

Of the three most common elements in hemp biomass, sugar leaves are the most prized amongst CBD connoisseurs. Located near the hemp buds, each of these unique leaves has a “dusting” of trichomes (hence the “sugar” moniker). While these leaves don’t have as many trichomes as central colas, they are close enough to contain significant traces of various cannabinoids and terpenes. 

Stalks, on the other hand, are almost exclusively used for industrial purposes. In fact, people have been cultivating hemp for centuries to take advantage of this plant’s fibrous texture. Today, manufacturers are interested in using this “fiber biomass” in textiles, biofuel, and paper. 

While both sugar leaves and stalks have definite uses, fan leaves have often been viewed as a “worthless” appendage. Sure, fan leaves are the universal symbol of cannabis...but what else are they good for?

True, fan leaves have only minimal traces of cannabinoids, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely worthless. In fact, many gardeners claim fan leaves make phenomenal compost. Many people also use fan leaves to make skin-safe creams and hemp tea. 

Heck, some health food fanatics have even begun juicing fan leaves! Although this “green juice” may taste downright disgusting, fitness fans believe it’s worth chugging down for all that nutritious chlorophyll. 

If smoothies aren’t your style, why not try roasting fan leaves as you would spinach or kale? Hey, doctors always say we should get more greens, right? 

Is CBD Biomass The Same As Industrial Hemp?

While “biomass” refers to extraneous plant materials, please remember there are two kinds of hemp that your biomass could come from: high-CBD and industrial-grade. While both of these plants come from the Cannabis sativa genus, they are grown in distinct settings for different reasons. 

Farmers who grow high-CBD hemp are most concerned with producing the purest and most potent buds imaginable. For this reason, CBD cultivators only plant feminized seeds in areas with plenty of space. 

Interestingly, when female hemp plants aren’t pollinated, they can focus all of their attention on maximizing cannabinoid percentages. Growers carefully monitor their plants throughout all stages of development to ensure they’re fit for human consumption. 

By contrast, industrial hemp farmers are more focused on quantity rather than quality. Generally, these cultivators will plant their unsexed hemp seeds close together in wide-open fields. While these plants will have some cannabinoids, they’re nowhere near as much as high-CBD hemp. In most cases, industrial farmers are only interested in hemp’s fibrous stalks for, well, industrial purposes!

So, if you notice your CBD product was made with “industrial hemp biomass,” warning alarms should start blaring in your mind. While this biomass won’t have zero CBD percentage, it will have way less than biomass from high-CBD hemp. There’s little chance any product made with industrial hemp biomass will have the potency you’re looking after.

Hand-Trimmed vs. Machine-Trimmed Hemp Buds — Is There A Difference?

While we’re discussing hemp biomass, it’s worth pointing out that manufacturers could trim this biomass in one of two ways. The “old school” method is to “hand-trim” each bud with clean scissors, a pair of gloves, and a lot of patience. For a less labor-intensive process, manufacturers could run their buds through one of the many new “trimming machines.”

While hand-trimming doesn’t make a ton of business sense, it tends to produce the best results. As with most other things in life, high-quality goods take time, skill, and a “human touch.” Hand-trimmed buds tend to smell better, hit harder, and look prettier than buds that went through a machine.

While machine trimmers certainly help with business expenses, they will always shear a few precious cannabinoids. Because these trimmers are designed for efficiency rather than quality, they will produce a second-rate smoking experience.

Is Hemp Biomass “Bad Quality?”

Because biomass is literally “discarded hemp,” many people assume it’s worthless. Indeed, some critics complain that hemp biomass is just a sneaky way for CBD manufacturers to sell cheap products to unassuming customers.

OK, we’ll admit: hemp biomass doesn’t have the high cannabinoid percentages you’ll find on hemp buds. However, that doesn’t mean it’s unfit for human consumption. As long as hemp biomass comes from high-quality, high-CBD hemp, it can produce many exceptional products.

Whether hemp biomass is good or bad depends on the skill of a company’s manufacturers, cultivators, and extractors. As long as employees set rigorous standards for cleanliness and purity, hemp biomass can produce fantastic results.

The only significant difference between using hemp buds and hemp biomass is that you need more of the latter to produce the same amount of CBD oil. However, once the extraction process is completed, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between CBD extracts from flower versus biomass.

Bottom Line: Why Do We Bother With Hemp Biomass?

Hemp biomass is so much more than “plant rubbish.” Indeed, as long as manufacturers know how to handle their trim correctly, they can transform this “trash” into “treasure.” Whether people are interested in hemp’s industrial or commercial uses, there’s a way to use biomass to achieve their goals.

Now that the hemp industry is going mainstream, we feel it’s essential for farmers to learn the value of biomass. The more cultivators save and use their biomass, the easier it will be to meet the massive demand for hemp-derived goods. As a bonus, the more hemp biomass we use, the better off Mother Earth will be!