Sunbelt Hemp came into being as a meeting of minds between generational farmers from the farming community from the South Eastern United States and Cannabis geneticists who have been working with the cannabis plant for 35 years in both the USA and in Europe.
The two groups realised that between them there was an opportunity to develop truly outstanding Hemp genetics never seen before upon the global stage.
Hemp farmers across both the USA and Canada have for years been limited to inferior genetics that have produced for them a small yield per acre and a huge variation in plant size and structure from strains that are a supposedly stabilised Hemp strains. Sunbelt has been working with these farmers researching how the industry has fared utilising poor quality genetics usually sold to them literally out of the back of a van by someone purporting to be a breeder. The results have ranged from farmers being sold seed that is really no more than chicken feed which produces a very poor yield of fiber or seed stock per acre giving them no return upon their initial investment, whereas other farmers having some relatively nice flower production on their acres but only to find out when it is tested by the State that it is ‘HOT’ and produces a THC level way over the 0.3% legally allowable in the USA, we know of farmers that produced flower with 4% THC which is basically Marijuana!!
Imagine having grown acres of Hemp that turned out to be Marijuana, ‘of course the DEA will believe you when you say it’s Hemp!’
The Hemp seed industry has been akin to the wild west over the past few years with everyone that has grown a plant trying to jump onto the bandwagon to produce Hemp seed. There have been some spectacularly disastrous results with too many hot crops, and farmers just being blatantly ripped off by con artists, and companies who were just simply ‘not interested’ once they had taken the farmers hard earned money from them.
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has just released a new set of amendments for farmers growing Hemp for the 2020 season. Part of the new rulings now state that whereas previously all Hemp was tested for Delta 9 THC levels only, as of next year the test will be for all variants of THC. Basically, this means that all THC within the plant after decarboxylation has to be below 0.3% TOTAL THC, so all THCa, THCv etc etc is all lumped together as a TOTAL THC % reading.
What this in effect means for all farmers is that 99% of the strains they have previously been used to grow including the variants known as Cherry Wine, Berry Blossom, Merlot, Stormy Danielz will now all become illegal to grow as the THC levels within them are way above the TOTAL THC of 0.3% that the USDA has recently announced.
The good news for Hemp farmers is that all is not lost!
Sunbelt had the hindsight to see this governmental move coming before the USDA made this amendment and have been busy creating genetics that not only produce a crop that is below 0.3% TOTAL THC but have developed stable genetics that gives farmers a substantial increase in yield giving them a much better return on their investment.
Growing Hemp within Europe has to be done with genetics that have a TOTAL THC % of less than 0.2% THC which is why Sunbelt has partnered with European geneticists who were already used to working with low THC varieties.
As well as working with long term Cannabis/Hemp breeders and geneticists Sunbelt has been working closely with the farming and Hemp industry, as well as the USDA plus various other State regulators to try and implement some uniformity and regulation to the industry as a whole. For too long it has been the wild west and needs to be made safer for farmers so that they know what they are growing and get the results that they paid for.
Sunbelt have been working hand in hand with the State of Georgia and AOSCA (Association of seed certifying agencies) to create something that farmers can rely upon.
Not only will Sunbelt be providing superlative genetics, but they will also be offering consultation on crop production and management, classes to the farming community to increase yield and optimize harvest. Sunbelt will encourage farmers to visit their facility in Georgia, to see the real potential that quality genetics can offer to today’s Hemp farmer, so farmers can see the genetics in the flesh and be safe in the knowledge that the seed or plugs/starts they are buying are exactly what they are supposed to be.
The Georgia Crop Improvement Association is currently working with Sunbelt to certify industrial hemp varieties. Certification is a third-party auditing and inspection program that is designed to assure the consumer of receiving varieties that are tested for seed quality and true to the variety description. Georgia crop Improvement is one of 44 crop improvements associations in the U.S. and is a member of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies. Generally speaking, only those companies that have confidence in their product participate in third party certification programs.
Georgia Crop Improvement Association
Sunbelt have not only produced varieties that are below 0.3% TOTAL THC, but they have produced varietals that produce between 3-5 times the yield that Hemp farmers have been used to. Sunbelts flagship CBD strain ‘Goliath’ when grown correctly has been known to produce 15.4lb (7kg) of biomass from one plant which was then hand trimmed to produce 12.1lb (5.5kg) of dried smokable flower.
As well as Platinum standard CBD enriched Hemp genetics Sunbelt have also been working hard to produce other strains of Hemp containing different cannabinoids and are pleased to announce that for the 2020 growing season they will be releasing a 15-18% CBG strain called ‘The Grail’ which has a TOTAL THC % value of 0.1%. This strain although not as big a producer as Goliath or the other CBD varietals from Sunbelt does still produce an impressive 3lb (1.36kg) of biomass per plant and 2lb (1kg) of smokable flower.
Growing Hemp has been a challenging and rewarding experience this year, we grew several different varieties as a trial run trying to learn all that we could.
Above and beyond there were two standouts, Titan and Goliath showed what every hemp grower would like to see. From the cleanliness and size of the seed, to the uniformity of the transplants, both of these varieties stood out. Also the most important factor, yield was substantial. The CBD content and pounds to the acre far exceeded the other companies varieties we grew this year.
I plan to grow much more of these varieties next year.
Published in Weed World Magazine Issue 144