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From Seed to Market: Sustainable Agriculture Practices for High-Quality Hemp

Updated: Apr 5

Sustainability isn't just a buzzword in agriculture - it's essential for cultivating crops that are both environmentally friendly and economically viable. For crops like hemp, sustainable practices are even more crucial. That's where programs like Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Clean Seed Production practices, and seed certifications from the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) come in, providing vital support for growers committed to sustainable, high-quality hemp production.

Programs such as AOSCA certify specific seeds that signify to the industry that the seed is produced to the highest standards for genetic purity, uniformity, high germination and feminization rates, and varietal identity. Clean Seed Production practices ensure that the appropriate species are produced, diseases, pests, and weeds are managed, seed is properly cleaned and handled to maintain quality and performance, and testing is performed to ensure high-quality standards. Good Agricultural Practices provide guidelines for farmers to follow to ensure sustainable crop growth and manage the risks of microbial contaminations. By following these practices and using sound genetics, farmers can produce high-quality crops that meet market demands while remaining environmentally sustainable and economically profitable.

Enter the world's first globally recognized agricultural standard focused on the entire industrial hemp value chain - from seed genetics to consumer facing products.

Programs like the 'H' Standard (THS), which is a part of the Responsible Hemp Standard (RHS) developed by Control Union, an industry-leading Certification Standard development team, are crucial for the hemp industry. THS ensures that all hemp grown within a certified supply chain adheres to sustainability and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). This is especially important for the textile and fiber market, which relies on high-quality hemp fiber.


In order to avoid issues with unsubstantiated claims, companies must have a way to trace and identify products and their sources in case of contamination or failure to meet quality standards. This ensures that any issues can be remedied quickly, and steps can be taken to prevent future instances.

The seed production process is critical to the overall quality of the seeds used in various commercial applications of industrial hemp. Seeds that are validated/certified through TCS have already been approved through AOSCA, ensuring a level of trust at the regional level regarding the overall quality of the genetics in terms of vigor/germination rates, overall health/disease-free nature, and microbial contamination controls.

By adhering to these guidelines, farmers can produce high-quality hemp crops that meet market demands while remaining environmentally sustainable and economically profitable. GAP promotes best practices such as crop rotation and soil conservation, reducing the need for harmful pesticides and herbicides. Programs like THS ensure that the fiber produced is of high quality, essential for the success of the textile and fiber market.

However, accidental cross-pollination of C. sativa crops is a significant threat to cannabinoid production as it reduces yield. While growers can produce only genetically female plants to avoid this issue, occasional production of male flowers on genetically female C. sativa plants still requires diligent scouting of fields and removal of pollen-bearing plants. Pollen drift from outside a managed field represents another challenge for C. sativa growers, as it can be difficult, if not impossible, to prevent pollination by drifting pollen.

Researchers have investigated the use of ploidy manipulation to reduce fertility and improve agronomic traits in C. sativa. A recent study applied colchicine to two proprietary inbred diploid C. sativa inbred lines, resulting in tetraploids with reduced fertility. The study showed that triploid and tetraploid F1 hybrids had lower fertility than their diploid counterparts, with triploids being female infertile. While polyploid C. sativa cultivars are not widely studied, these results demonstrate the potential benefits of triploid C. sativa cultivars in commercial agriculture, reducing the impact of unintended cross-pollination and improving yields.

FS Origins is a team of consultants specializing in sustainable agriculture practices, providing guidance in partnership with Control Union Certification (CUC) on implementing GAP and Good Seed Production Practices for crops like hemp. They can also assist growers in implementing ploidy manipulation strategies to reduce the impact of unintended cross-pollination and improve yields in commercial production.

Contact FS Origins today to learn more.

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