One major challenge linked with harvesting cannabis or hemp is the post-harvest spoilage that may affect the quality and quantity of hemp biomass. This is one major reason why farmers and CBD formulators need to pay attention to choosing the right storage techniques that are essential for maintaining a profitable business.
Adopting the right storage method for dry hemp is arguably as important as planting, harvesting, or any other step involved in the cultivation of hemp. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best methods for storing dry hemp.
How to store hemp biomass (dry hemp)
In conventional farming, the term “biomass” is used to describe plant wastes that are left behind after harvesting the useful part of the plants. This is not the case with hemp, as biomass is used to describe the remaining organic material (leaves and stalks) after the seeds/ or flowers have been harvested.
Hemp biomass is used for the collection of oils and fiber production for cloth and cord production. Apart from the extraction of oils, hemp leaves are also highly concentrated with cannabinoids, which have been used to produce a wide range of hemp-based products. The importance of biomass is why most farmers and CBD users are interested in how to best store it for as long as possible.
Biomass, just like every other plant-based product in the market, can be prone to microbial contamination and degradation in they are not stored properly. Since the first evidence of hemp cultivation, standard storage methods have been developed to keep the hemp grain, seed, and fiber intact. These methods are strictly based on the years of growing and processing the plant. Although these methods may be subject to change, they have proven to be effective at keeping the biomass safe for as long as possible, most especially now that the plant is legal in most regions in the world, including the United States. With an increase in the need for hemp-derived products like CBD oil, farmers are likely to increase their rate of cultivation and adopt more storage methods.
Even with the buzz about CBD and its other related compounds, there is little to no information about the shelf life of harvested hemp biomass. This is probably because the industry is still evolving. Information from research has shown that harvested hemp products are susceptible to damage by the following factors temperature, ultraviolet light, and humidity. Whenever harvested hemp is exposed to these factors, they become prone to spoilage by mold or experience a degraded cannabinoid potency.
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Before storing your hemp, it is important that the plant part must be properly trimmed (wet or dry trim), and cured. After this process, it means your hemp is ready for storage. Note that the cured plant part is completely dry to touch since a reduced moisture content increases the shelf life of the hemp.
At the time of writing this article, it can be stored using plastic bags, containers, bottles, and jars. While these methods come with their unique advantages and disadvantages, it has been observed that storing hemp biomass like Hemp flower and oil in colored Mason jars is the best practice.
The use of colored mason Jars is often referred to as the most utilized method of storing biomass to prevent mold and degradation of cannabinoids. While it is a common practice to store it in plastic bags, mason jars tend to provide a better advantage for hemp growers. Due to their fragile nature, plastic bags can be damaged easily, thus creating small holes that allow the passage of air into the bag. All storage facilities for biomass must be kept airtight and away from light.
It is preferable to store biomass in mason jars since a harvested hemp product like flowers may be covered in cannabinoid-rich trichomes thus, affecting the final aroma of the flower controlled by terpenes. Every CBD products user and formulator will like the protect these factors hence the reason why a mason jar is most preferable. The colored mason jar reduces the amount of light reaching the harvested hemp, thus maintaining its integrity and overall health.
What are the challenges of storing hemp biomass?
Regardless of your need for storing this, it is important to bear in mind that there are elements that may threaten or degrade the quality of your stored biomass. Some of these challenges include but are not limited to the following;
1. Maintaining optimum temperature
As stated earlier, the process of preparing your hemp biomass for storage requires a lot of drying and curing. This is to reduce the moisture content in the biomass and make it very hard for microbial species like mold to thrive. A properly cured hemp biomass possesses ideal crispiness that limits the growth and proliferation of contaminants like mildew and mold, which turns any ripe good biomass into the trash.
The temperature requirement varies for each one; for instance, a mild temperature is ideal for hemp flower. There is a general rule that recommends temperatures between 77° and 86° F as optimum for maintaining the quality of hemp while preventing any negative changes that may develop in the biomass. If you are storing CBD oil, then keeping them at room temperature should do the trick. You can also place your CBD oil in the refrigerator to preserve its cannabinoid content.
2. Minimizing the exposure to light
While colored mason jars are recommended for storing hemp biomass like oils and flowers, there is a need to also limit the amount of light reaching your jars. Exposing biomass to light can lead to the oxidation of active chemicals into the less reactive forms. For instance, THC can be oxidized in the presence of light to produce CBN, which is less psychoactive.
Exposing hemp biomass like hemp flower to UV light may lead to the loss of terpenes, trichomes, and cannabinoids, thus leading to a reduced flower quality. The case is quite different with hemp oil as exposing the biomass to UV light speeds the process of rotting after changing the chemical composition.
To obtain the best results, you can store it in regions that receive little to no light like cabinets, cupboards, and refrigerators.
3. Deciding on which container to use
It is common to find hemp stored in ziplock bags while watching TV shows and Hollywood movies. While this may look fancy and easy to do, it is completely wrong to keep it in such a container. Most hemp experts have warned the dangers associated with storing hemp in plastic bags since they offer little to no protection when compared to mason jars. People who want to store their hemp biomass should simply try colored mason jars as described above.
How can I tell if my hemp has gone bad?
As hemp comes in contact with mold, mildew, or any other form of contaminant, it releases markers that serve as indicators to see if the integrity of the biomass has been compromised or not. These markers are unique to each class it. For instance, hemp flower presents a discolored bud, the appearance of dark patches of dark discoloration bordered by some fuzzy white outlines. The scent may be altered or scent unappealing. The ultimate indicator of spoilage is when mold or mildew grows on your CBD flowers. Using such products may be dangerous to your health, and it is highly recommended that you discard it as soon you notice the appearance of molds.
Determining the extent of spoilage for hemp oil is quite easy. Most experts recommend that contaminated hemp oil will possess a weird fragrance. Good hemp oil should smell herbal, aromatic, and give off the scent of wood. There are cases when a contaminated hemp oil may smell rotten or give an offensive smell.
How long should I store my hemp biomass?
Inasmuch as it is good to store your hemp biomass, using a freshly dried biomass is best at optimizing your CBD or cannabis experience. Although the shelf-life of stored hemp products is still a major source of debate, most hemp experts believe that you can store your HB for up to a year as long the environmental and climatic conditions affecting the storage area are kept in check.
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Bringing the moisture content of the biomass down to 10% or less can even allow your biomass longer than a year. All stored hemp products should be subjected to frequent inspections for the color change, foul smell, and the appearance of mold or mildew.
With the increased level of its demand, there is a need for farmers and users to adopt the right storage techniques that can keep their biomass as active as possible. The process of storing hemp is quite easy as long as strict adherence to environmental and climatic conditions like humidity, temperature, and exposure to UV light is monitored. These factors are what determines the level of contaminants like mold and mildew that grow on hemp biomass.
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