420 Magazine Background

The Hemp Files: Various Hemp Related Historical Documents

Not open for further replies.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Industrial Hemp Farming Act Of 2007 (Introduced In House)

HR 1009 IH


1st Session

H. R. 1009

To amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marihuana, and for other purposes.


February 13, 2007

Mr. PAUL (for himself, Ms. BALDWIN, Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts, Mr. GRIJALVA, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. KUCINICH, Mr. MCDERMOTT, Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California, Mr. STARK, and Ms. WOOLSEY) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

To amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marihuana, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007'.


Paragraph (16) of section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802(16)) is amended--

(1) by striking `(16)' at the beginning and inserting `(16)(A)'; and

(2) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

`(B) The term `marihuana' does not include industrial hemp. As used in the preceding sentence, the term `industrial hemp' means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that does not exceed 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.'.


Section 201 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 811) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

`(i) Industrial Hemp Determination To Be Made by States- In any criminal action, civil action, or administrative proceeding, a State regulating the growing and processing of industrial hemp under State law shall have exclusive authority to determine whether any such plant meets the concentration limitation set forth in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (16) of section 102 and such determination shall be conclusive and binding.'.


Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)


New Member
Re: Industrial Hemp Farming Act Of 2007 (Introduced In House)

is it too much to ask that the controlled substances act be reviewed every 25 years to follow the constitutional mandate for congress to promote the progress of science [US Constiturion article 1 para 32] such that new scientific knowledge regarding medical use toxicness and drug schedules be incorparated and updated and substances having demonstratable use delisted if new data contradicts old.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Re: Industrial Hemp Farming Act Of 2007 (Introduced In House)

nope, its not too much to ask. apparently its to much for them to do though.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
California Cannabis Hemp & Health Initiative 2008

Proposed Wording:

California Cannabis Hemp & Health Initiative 2008


I. Add Section 11357.5 to the Health and Safety Code of California, any laws or policies
to the contrary notwithstanding:

1. No person, 21 years or older, shall be prosecuted, be denied any right or privilege, nor be subject to any criminal or civil penalties for the possession, cultivation, transportation, distribution, or consumption of cannabis/hemp/marijuana, including:

(a) Cannabis hemp.

(b) Hemp industrial products.

(c) Hemp medicinal preparations.

(d) Hemp nutritional products.

(e) Hemp intoxicating products.

2. Definition of terms:

(a) The term "cannabis hemp" means the plant hemp, cannabis, marihuana, marijuana, cannabis sativa L, cannabis americana, cannabis chinensis, cannabis indica, cannabis ruderalis, cannabis sativa, or any variety of cannabis, including any derivative, extract, flower, leaf, particle, preparation, resin, root, salt, seed, stalk, stem, or any product thereof.

(b) The term "hemp industrial products" means all products made from cannabis hemp that are not designed or intended for human consumption, including, but not limited to: clothing, housing, paper, fiber, fuel, lubricants, plastics, paint, seed for cultivation, animal feed, veterinary medicine, oil, or any other product that is not designed for internal human consumption; as well as hemp plants used for crop rotation, erosion control, pest control, weed control, or any other horticultural or environmental purposes.

(c) The term "hemp medicinal preparations" means all products made from cannabis hemp that are designed, intended, or used for human consumption for the treatment of any human disease or condition, for pain relief, or for any healing purpose, including but not limited to: the treatment or relief of Alzheimer's and pre-Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, asthma, cramps, epilepsy, glaucoma, immunodeficiencies, migraine, multiple sclerosis, nausea, PMS, side effects of cancer chemotherapy, fibromyalgia, sickle cell anemia, spasticity, spinal injury, stress, Tourette's syndrome, wasting syndrome from AIDS or anorexia; use as an antibiotic, antibacterial, anti-viral, or anti-emetic; as a healing agent, or as an adjunct to any medical or herbal treatment.

(d) The term "hemp nutritional products" means cannabis hemp for human consumption as food, including but not limited to: seed, seed protein, seed oil, essential fatty acids, seed cake, dietary fiber, or any preparation or extract thereof.

(e) The term "hemp intoxicating products" means cannabis hemp intended for personal use, other than hemp industrial products, hemp medicinal preparations, or hemp nutritional products.

(f) The term "personal use" means the internal consumption of cannabis hemp by persons 21 years of age or older for any relaxational, spiritual, religious, recreational, or other purposes other than sale, that does not conflict with any statutory law not effected by this initiative.

3. Industrial hemp farmers, manufacturers, and distributors shall not be subject to any special zoning requirement, licensing fee, or tax that is excessive, discriminatory, or prohibitive.

4. Hemp medicinal preparations are hereby restored to the list of available medicines in California. Licensed physicians shall not be penalized for, nor restricted from, prescribing or recommending cannabis hemp for medical purposes to any patient, regardless of age. No tax shall be applied to prescribed hemp medicinal preparations. Medical research shall be encouraged.

5. Personal use of hemp intoxicating products.

(a) No permit, license, or tax shall be required for the non-commercial cultivation, transportation, distribution, or consumption of cannabis hemp.

(b) Testing for inactive and/or inert residual cannabis metabolites shall not be required for employment or insurance, nor be considered in determining employment.

6. Commerce in cannabis hemp intoxicating products shall be limited to adults, 21 years and older, and shall be regulated in a manner analogous to California's wine industry model. For the purpose of distinguishing personal from commercial production, up to 12 pounds (192 ounces) of dried, cured cannabis hemp flowers/bud (not leaf) produced per adult, 21 years or older, per year shall be considered as being for personal use.

7. The manufacture, marketing, distribution, or sales between adults of equipment or accessories designed to assist in the planting, cultivation, harvesting, curing, processing, packaging, storage, analysis, consumption, or transportation of cannabis hemp plants, industrial hemp products, hemp medicinal preparations, hemp nutritional products, hemp intoxicating products, or any cannabis hemp product shall not be prohibited.

8. No California law enforcement personnel or funds shall be used to assist or aid and abet in the enforcement of Federal cannabis/hemp/ marijuana laws involving acts which are hereby no longer illegal in the state of California.

II. Repeal, delete, and expunge any and all existing statutory laws that conflict with the provisions of this initiative.

1. Enactment of this initiative shall include: immediate release from prison, jail, parole, and probation, and clearing, expungement, and deletion of all criminal records for all persons currently charged with, or convicted of any cannabis hemp/marijuana offenses included in this initiative which are hereby no longer illegal.

2. Within 60 days of the passage of this act, the Attorney General shall develop and distribute a one-page application, providing for the destruction of all cannabis/hemp/marijuana criminal records in California for any such offense covered by this act. Such forms shall be distributed to district and city attorneys and made available at all police departments in the state to persons hereby affected. Upon filing such form with the Attorney General and a payment of a fee of $10.00, all pertinent records anywhere in the state of California fisted in the form and covered by this act shall be destroyed. Such persons may truthfully state that they have never been convicted of any cannabis/hemp/marijuana related offense which is hereby no longer illegal.

III. The legislature is authorized upon thorough investigation, to enact legislation
using reasonable standards to:

1. License concessionary establishments to distribute hemp intoxicating products in a manner analogous to California's wine industry model. Sufficient community outlets shall be licensed to provide reasonable commercial access to persons of legal age, so as to discourage and prevent the misuse of and illicit traffic in such products. Any license requirement or fee shall not be excessive, discriminatory, nor prohibitive.

2. Place an excise tax on commercial production of hemp intoxicating products, analogous to California's wine industry model, so long as no excise tax or combination of excise taxes shall exceed $10.00 per ounce.

3. Determine an acceptable and uniform standard of impairment based on performance testing, to restrict persons impaired by hemp intoxicating products from operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery, or otherwise engaging in conduct that may affect public safety.

4. Regulate the personal use of hemp intoxicating products in enclosed and/or restricted public places.

IV. Pursuant to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the people of California hereby repudiate and challenge Federal cannabis/hemp/marijuana prohibitions that conflict with this act.

V. Severability: If any provision of this act, or the application of any such provision to any person or circumstance, shall be held invalid by any court, the remainder of this act, to the extent it can be given effect, or the application of such provisions to persons or circumstances other than those as to which it is held invalid, shall not be affected thereby, and to this end the provisions of this act are severable.

VI. Construction: If any rival or conflicting initiative regulating any matter addressed by this act receives the higher affirmative vote, then all non-conflicting parts shall become operative.

VII. Purpose of Act: This act is an exercise of the police powers of the state for the protection of the safety, welfare, health, and peace of the people and the environment of the state, to protect the industrial and medicinal uses of cannabis hemp, to eliminate the unlicensed and unlawful cultivation, selling, and dispensing of cannabis hemp; and to encourage temperance in the consumption of hemp intoxicating products. It is hereby declared that the subject matter of this act involves, in the highest degree, the ecological, economic, social, and moral well-being and safety of the State and of all its people. All provisions of this act shall be liberally construed for the accomplishment of these purposes: to respect human rights, to promote tolerance, and to end cannabis hemp prohibition.

Source: Welcome to Jack Herer's Home on the Web

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Russian Hemp Cultivation by John Quincy Adams

Pubdate: January 18, 1828
Source: 20th Congress, 1st Session. Doc. No. 68. House of Reps. American water-rotted hemp, &c. &c. Reports from the Navy Department, in relation to experiments on American water-rotted hemp, when made into canvass, cables, and cordage
Author: John Quincy Adams
Pages: 11-12


In Russia, when the season is mild, the hemp seed is sown about the 1st June, old style. The richer the soil of the land employed for it, the better. A chetwirt of seed, (100 chetwirts are equal to 73 quarters, Winchester measure,) is sown on a piece of land of 80 fathoms (English feet) long, and 60 fathoms broad.

The land is first ploughed and harrowed, and, about 200 single horse loads of dung being spread upon it, it is left for six days, when it is again ploughed, and the seed sown and harrowed the same day. In about four months the seed becomes ripe, and the hemp is then pulled up with the roots; if it be allowed to remain too long in the ground, it is apt to become harsh. It is bound into heads or bunches of four handfuls each; these are hung upon sticks placed horizontally, thus, x-o-o-o-o-o-o-x and allowed to remain so for two days. It is then made into cut or thrashed hemp, as may be agreeable. The cut hemp is made by chopping off the heads containing the seed. These are put into the kiln, and, after remaining there for eighteen hours, the seed is beaten out.

If thrashed hemp is to be made, the heads or tops must not be cut off, but the bunches of hemp, placed entire in the kiln; and, if the weather be warm, it will be sufficiently dry in three days, when the seed must be thrashed out of the heads. In either case, three days after the seed is separated from it, the hemp must be put to steep or rot, either in a stream or a pond, and that the hemp may be entirely immersed, it is put under wooden frames upon which stones are placed, or, where they are not to be had, earth is substituted, after the frames are covered with planks.

The clearer and purer the water, the better will be the color of the hemp. Where the water is warm, three weeks steeping will be sufficient, but, if cold, as in rivers, springs, &c. five weeks or longer may be necessary. At the expiration of this period, a head of the hemp is taken out and dried; if, on beating and cleaning it, the husk comes off, the hemp may then be taken out of the water, but if the husk still adheres to it, it must be allowed to remain some time longer. This trial must be repeated from time to time, till the husk separates, when the hemp must be taken out of the water, and suspended to dry, as directed before, on its being taken off the ground.

The hemp is now made into the two sorts, distinguished by the names of Spring and Winter hemp; the former being dry and rather of a withered appearance, the latter more moist, and of a fine brownish green color, containing more of the vegetable oil, and, therefore, the most apt to heat, though, if not shipped at St. Petersburg or Riga, before September, there is not much risk of its heating any more on board the ships, especially on short voyages, as to England, and are the best fit for cables. If it be intended that the hemp should be early ready for market, it is made into Winter hemp by the following process: On being taken out of the water, it is left suspended in the open air for about a fortnight, when it is put into the kiln for twenty-four hours, after which it is broken by means of a hand-mill, and the husk is then beaten off by striking the heads obliquely with iron and wooden instruments, of the shape of a large two-edged knife; lastly, to unravel it, it is drawn through a wooden comb, or card, with one row of wide wooden teeth, fixed perpendicularly.

The hemp is then laid up or suspended in sheds, and is fit to be sorted, bound into bundles, and loaded into the barks.

The hemp, to be prepared as Spring hemp, is allowed to remain suspended, and exposed to the weather the whole Winter, until it be dried by the sun in the Spring, when it is broken and cleaned in the same manner as the Winter hemp.

As the greatest part of the Summer elapses before it can be made fit for the market, none of this hemp reaches St. Petersburg until the following Spring, that is, two years after it was sown.

The hemp is sown in the same manner as linseed, rye, or wheat; land, of a sandy soil, may also be employed for it, but it must be strongly manured, otherwise it will be too short, and a flat country should always be preferred.

One chetwirt of seed commonly yields 25 loads (upwards 36 pounds English) of hemp, and twelve chetwirts of hemp seed.
Last edited:

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Hemp And Flax Agriculture In Japan - 1874

Pubdate: 1874
Source: Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture for the year 1873
Author: Hon. Horace Capron, Formerly U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture
Pages: 372-373


Hemp is raised on valley-lands, which are dug up and flooded the same as for rice, and the same kind of fertilizers are used, that is, rape-seed or fish oil-cake, straw-manure, sea-weed, or liquid manure from closets. The hemp is not sown broadcast as with us, but is planted in March in drills 16 inches apart. As soon as the plants are well up they are hoed, and in addition to the manure worked into the soil previous to the planting, two or three times each month liquid manure is applied to the roots of each plant. Between these drills some kind of vegetable is grown and thoroughly fertilized. The ground is completely flooded several times by means of the ubiquitous irrigating ditches. In August the hemp is pulled, not cut, and is placed in the water-ditches and alternately soaked a few days and then dried for a time, till the external coating is thoroughly rotted; it is then beaten on a board or plank platform with a bamboo stick till the fiber is entirely cleaned. Another method for separating the fiber is by holding a number of the stems near their tops with the left hand, (an equal number at each time,) and with the right hand breaking them short off and stripping the fiber from the stems. This leaves it in hanks of uniform size, which is retained through the whole process until baled for market. To relieve the fiber of its glutinous coating is a very simple process. A thin piece of bamboo, about 3 inches wide and 2 or 3 feet long, is stretched over two bridges in a manner similar to the hairs on a fiddle-bow, so as to render it elastic; this is fastened in a convenient manner a little inclined. The hanks of hemp in the damp state are laid upon this as they are stripped, then another piece of bamboo, curved like a currier's scraper, is run down over this several times till the fiber is entirely clean. These hanks are then hung over bamboo rods to dry. It is then pressed into bales of 100 pounds each, and sent on pack-horses to market. It is probably the finest hemp grown in the world. The great length, fineness, glossiness, and strength of the staple are unequaled.

I have been unable to ascertain the average yield of hemp per acre. It is sold very low in the market at present, but when the proper machinery is invented for working this fiber it will prove a mine of wealth to Japan.

Flax is grown on the same soil as hemp, and manured the same, and prepared in like manner for market. It is also noted for its excellence. These two crops are raised by rotation, that is, are never grown two seasons in succession on the same ground.
Last edited:

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Pubdate: 1896
Source: 1895 Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture
Author: Gilbert H. Hicks; Assistant, Division of Botany, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Pages 198-199


Hempseed oil comes from an annual plant of the nettle family (Cannabis sativa), which is indigenous in central Asia and the East Indies. It is cultivated in India, Persia, China, North America, Germany, and, more than anywhere else, in Russia. It grows from 4 to 8 feet high in waste and cultivated ground. The odor of the fresh leaves sometimes produces headaches, while the celebrated narcotic, hashish, is prepared from a gelatinous resin contained in the leaves and stems. The latter also furnish the well-known fiber used for cloth and cordage.

The male and female flowers are borne on different plants. The nut-like fruits, commonly called seeds, are used in great quantities in bird food. They are nearly egg-shaped in outline, flattened at the margins. Color, dark gray, with fine, net-like, whitish markings on the smooth and shiny surface. Each fruit is completely filled with the seed proper, which is of the same shape and about 4mm. long by 3 mm. wide and 2 to 3 mm. thick. The seeds contain no endosperm, but are filled with a whitish embryo which yields 30 to 35 per cent of a peculiar-smelling, mild-tasting oil, greenish yellow when freshly pressed, becoming brownish yellow with age. Hempseed oil is used to a considerable extent in the preparation of paints and varnishes, although it does not dry as readily as linseed oil. In Europe it enters largely into the composition of soft soaps. Sometimes it is used in the Old World as an illuminant and, rarely, for food.

Hemp will thrive in most parts of the United States, and is said to produce from 20 to 40 bushels of seed to the acre, worth about $2.50 per 100 pounds. With extra good care and soil the yield may reach 50 to 60 bushels. The seed should be planted in drills, early in April in the South, two weeks later in the North. The young plants are thinned out when a foot high, and must be kept free from weeds. The male plants should be pulled as soon as they have shed their pollen, so as to allow the seed-producing plants plenty of room and all of the available soil food.

Hemp should be harvested promptly as soon as the seed begins to drop, which always takes place after a sharp frost, if not before. The seeds scatter easily; hence hemp should be cut early in the morning when the dew is on, and great care exercised to prevent waste. When cut, hemp should be set up in loose shocks to dry, a sheet being placed under each one, and some protection afforded from birds, as they are fonder of this seed than almost any other. Drying is completed by spreading the plants out on a tight barn floor, where they are thrashed by hand.

Hempseed, notwithstanding its oily content, loses its germinative power quickly, usually by the end of one year; hence only fresh seed should be sown. Neither cracked nor dull-looking seed will germinate well. Hemp culture in America is mostly confined to Kentucky and Missouri, principally the former State. The value of hemp for fiber, birdseed, and oil would seem to make its cultivation a very profitable one.
Last edited:

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
USDA: Hemp Fiber Investigation 1910

Pubdate: 1910
Source: 1909 Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture
Author: James Wilson, U.S.D.A. Secretary
Pages: 77-78


Many plant fibers and many questions pertaining to fiber production have been investigated during the past year, but attention has been directed especially to hemp and flax, which, aside from cotton, are regarded as the most promising fiber-producing plants for this country.

HEMP - The preliminary experiments in the cultivation of hemp in Wisconsin in 1908, in cooperation with the state experiment station, gave very encouraging results not only in the destruction of Canada thistle and quack grass but also in the production of fiber. In spite of adverse weather conditions for retting, more than 9,000 pounds of fiber were obtained from 6 acres. This average yield of a little more than 1,500 pounds per acre compares very favorably with the average of 1,000 pounds per acre on the best farms of Kentucky. The hemp was dew retted on the land where it grew, as is the common practice in this country, returning to the soil most of the fertilizing elements taken up in its growth.

Experiments have been continued in Wisconsin in 1909. The severe drought in summer prevented the full development of the hemp, but it has given good results in killing Canada thistle and quack grass. Improved methods used in harvesting these experimental fields this year will reduce very materially the cost of handling the crop.

Machine brakes for preparing hemp fiber are replacing the slow hand brakes, and in some instances, at least, they are doing not only more work but much better work. The satisfactory results with American hemp binder twine, which has been placed on the market during the last two years, give promise of an extensive market for fiber of medium grades suitable for this purpose.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
USDA: Production Of Drug-Plant Crops In The U.S. - 1918

Pubdate: 1918
Source: 1917 Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture
Author: W.W. Stockberger, Physiologist in Charge of Drug-Plant and Poisonous-Plant Investigations, Bureau of Plant Industry
Pages: Excerpts from 169 & 171


Medicinal plants have been cultivated in the United States for more than two centuries. Only a few decades have elapsed since healing herbs shared with small fruits and vegetables a place in every kitchen garden, and in certain localities their production and sale at one time formed the basis of small industries. In time, however, the numerous convenient preparations obtainable at every drug store rendered the domestic herb garden no longer necessary, and the great development of foreign commerce made it possible to obtain supplies of most crude drugs from sources where the cost of production was less than in this country.


Cannabis is now grown commercially as a side line by a few farmers in South Carolina and by occasional individuals in some other States. Two large drug manufacturers also grow sufficient cannabis for their own needs. Considerable technical skill is required to produce cannabis of a quality that will meet the standard requirements for this drug. Cannabis grown in some localities is deficient in the active principles upon which its value depends, and preliminary tests to determine the quality of the product are therefore always advisable before planting this crop on a commercial scale.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
USDA: Hemp, Day Length And Flowering 1947

Pubdate: 1947
Source: The Yearbook of Agriculture; 1943-1947, United States Department of Agriculture
Author: H.A. Borthwick, USDA Senior Botanist in the Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and Agricultural Engineering
Pages: 282-283


New practices that can be used in breeding hemp have resulted from recent photoperiodic studies. Hemp is a short-day plant. It flowers promptly when day lengths are less than 14 hours and very slowly or not at all when day lengths are greater than 14 hours. Under average field conditions about half of the plants are female and half are male. Under some circumstances, however, female plants, each of which may produce a very large number of female flowers, will also produce a few typical male flowers. The opposite condition occurs in the males; that is, a male plant will form an occasional female flower in addition to a great number of male flowers. This tendency for hemp plants to produce these extra flowers of the opposite sex is increased by subjecting them to photoperiods of 14 hours or less and to cool nights when flowers are being formed.

Most rapid progress in breeding plants can be made with those that can be self-pollinated. Hemp, obviously, can be self-pollinated only when it produces these occasional additional flowers of the opposite sex. The advantage of being able to increase their tendency to form these flowers is apparent.

Dr. Hugh C. McPhee of the Department made use of this behavior of hemp several years ago. He used the pollen of the male flowers that were produced in small numbers on certain of the female plants to self-pollinate those plants. When he grew the resulting seeds he made the important discovery that all of the plants were female. We have recently produced several thousand seeds in this way and have not obtained a single male plant, thus thoroughly confirming Dr. McPhee's observations.

Under greenhouse conditions, with proper control of temperature and day length, a very high percentage of female plants produced enough male flowers so that self-pollination could be effected, and in certain experimental lots of female plants produced out-of-doors in late summer when days were short and nights were cool, enough male flowers were formed so that natural pollination occurred and a quantity of pure "female" seed was produced. These results suggest that a locality can be found in which the conditions are favorable to the formation of these intersex male flowers on female plants in sufficient quantity that a good crop of seed could be obtained. If this could be done, a means would be at hand to produce commercial quantities of "female" seed, thereby enabling growers to produce a pure stand of female plants. Such pure stands would result in a more uniform fiber crop and eliminate certain harvest problems. The basis for developing such a procedure lies in finding in nature a combination of environmental factors similar to that which, under experimental conditions, has resulted in formation of abundant male flowers.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Monoecious Hemp Breeding In The U.S. 1956

Pubdate: October, 1956:
Source: Fibres (Engineering and Chemistry)
Author: Carl V. Feaster, Agronomist, Field Crops Research Branch, Agricultural Research Service, U.S.D.A.


The hemp breeding programme in the United States is being directed toward improvement of fibre quality through the development of strains with uniform maturity among plants. Present commercial varieties are dioecious, with the male plants returning about three weeks before the female plants. This results in fibre of different maturity and consequently less uniformity.

The development of monoecious strains, where all plants mature at approximately the same time, is an effective means of eliminating much of the variability in fibre quality among plants. Monoecious hemp also may allow for changes in processing methods to the extent that water retting would be economically feasible. At present, hemp in the United States is dew retted.

Trials and results

The original monoecious plants were selected by Borthwick and Scully*, while conducting photoperiodic studies with Kentucky hemp, a dioecious variety. This material was released to the Hemp Improvement Project and a monoecious hemp has been developed by several generations of sibbing selected monoecious plants. The monoecious character has become relatively stable. A few female plants appear in some strains; however, no male plants occur unless foreign pollen is involved.

Yield trials comparing Kentucky hemp with Kentucky monoecious show the yield of fibre to be about the same for the two varieties; however, the percentage of fibre has averaged slightly higher for the dioecious variety and the stalk yield slightly higher for the monoecious variety.

Evaluation of individual plants from Kentucky monoecious showed considerable variation in the percentage of fibre, stem weight, stem weight, stem diameter, and weight/diameter ratio of the stem. Per cent fibre was negatively correlated with the other measured characters. That is, plants with low stem weight, small stem diameter, or weight/diameter ratio of the stem were relatively high in per cent fibre. When the progenies from these selected selfed plants were grown, heritability was found to be high for per cent fibre but was negligible for stem weight, stem diameter, and weight/diameter ratio of the stem. These results indicate that although stem weight, stem diameter, and weight/diameter ratio of the stem is correlated with per cent fibre, the stem measurements do not express the inherited phase of per cent fibre. The measurements do, however, account for some of the differences in per cent fibre which are due to environment. When proper adjustment of per cent fibre was made on the basis of stem weight, stem diameter, or weight/diameter ratio of the stem, the variability due to genetic differences was more evident and selection of plants inherently high in fibre was more effective.

The genetic variability and heritability of a character is indicative of the extent to which improvement is possible through selection. Improvement of fibre content within this strain appears promising since it is relatively heterozygous for per cent fibre and heritability of per cent fibre is high.

Some of the details of the above work appear in an article entitled 'Genetic and Environmental Variability of Percent Fibre and Other Characters in Monoecious Hemp, Cannabis Sativa L.' The Textile Quarterly, Volume 6, No. 1

*Borthwick, A., and Scully, N.J. Photoperiodic Responses of Hemp. The Botanical Gazette 116; 14-29. September 1954

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
USDA: Hemp Seed - Where Grown And How Handled 1902

Pubdate: 1902
Source: 1901 Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture
Author: Lyster H. Dewey, Assistant Botanist, Bureau of Plant Industry
Pages: 250-251



Hemp seed is raised in Kentucky, Missouri, and eastern Kansas, most of it being, however, sold as bird seed. When hemp is to be grown for seed it is planted in hills 42 to 48 inches apart, and is cultivated like corn. It is sometimes "topped" to make it spread and produce more seed. After the male plants have shed their pollen they are cut out. The seed is thrashed with a flail in a wagon box or any other convenient place, or beaten out over sheets of cloth spread on the ground. Much seed is also produced by plants grown for the fiber. This is known as "lint" seed, and is light and inferior in quality. It is not used for seed purposes except in years of short crops, when the heaviest of the lint seed is cleaned out to be sold for seed. Growers commonly prefer a small dark-colored seed.

Small quantities of seed are annually imported from China, France, and Italy. The seed from China is mostly received through missionaries in small packets, and is highly prized. The first year it is sown for seed purposes exclusively, and does not at first yield as good fiber as the American plant. The Chinese variety rapidly becomes acclimated, and the seeds of the second and third generations produce plants with fiber of the best quality. The occasional importation of the Chinese seed is necessary to keep up the quality of the American hemp, which tends to deteriorate.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The Hemp Plant - USDA Yearbook 1901

Pubdate: 1902
Source: USDA Yearbook 1901
Author: Lyster H. Dewey, Assistant Botanist, Bureau of Plant Industry
Pages: 541-554


The hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) is an annual, belonging to the nettle family. It grows to a height of from 5 to 15 feet, and when cultivated for fiber (Pl. LXXIX, fig. 1 1901 USDA PLATE LXXIX) produces only a few small branches near the top of the slender stalk. Its leaves, of a rich dark-green color, are composed of 5 to 9 lanceolate, serrate, pointed leaflets, 2 to 5 inches in length and about one-sixth as wide. The staminate, or pollen-bearing flowers, and the pistillate, or seed-producing flowers, are on separate plants (Pl. LXXIX, fig. 2 1901 USDA PLATE LXXIX), both plants being nearly alike, but the staminate plants maturing earlier. The stems are hollow, and in the best varieties rather prominently fluted. The fiber consists of numerous series of long cells in the inner bark, firmly knitted together, which, when cleaned from the surrounding tissues, form tough strands nearly as long as the entire plant. This is a bast fiber, and is classed commercially among the soft fibers, with flax, ramie, and jute.

The hemp plant originated in central Asia, but it is now widely distributed, especially in the North Temperate Zone, growing spontaneously where it has been accidentally introduced with bird seed or cultivated for the fiber.


The name "hemp" was first applied to the plant above described, but in recent years it has unfortunately been used to designate the sisal plant, or henequen, a species of agave producing a leaf fiber, and the manila fiber plant, or abaca, a kind of banana plant producing structural fibers in the leaf petioles. Sansevieria, a tropical genus belonging to the lily family, includes three or four fiber-producing species, often called bowstring hemp, and an East Indian species, Crotalaria juncea, is commonly known as Sunn hemp. The name is also applied to several other species of less importance.


Hemp fiber is long, soft, very strong, and capable of almost as fine subdivision as flax. It is especially adapted for use where strength is required. It is used in the manufacture of fine twines, carpet thread, carpet yarns, sailcloth, and for homespun and similar grades of woven goods. Nearly all of the best grade of long fiber, "dressed line," is used for making twines, yacht cordage, etc.; cheaper grades are made into binder twine. The tow is used for threads and for yarns to be woven into carpets, homespuns, and linen goods, and the refuse fiber combed from the tow is used as oakum for calking ships. The average annual consumption of hemp fiber in the United States is about 18,000,000 pounds, of which only about 8,500,000 pounds are raised in this country, the remainder being imported.



In foreign countries hemp is cultivated most extensively in Russia, China, Japan, Italy, Austria, and France. The tallest and best hemp plants are produced in China and Japan, but the best grades of fiber are imported from Italy, where it is prepared by water-retting. It is not cultivated commercially for the production of fiber in the Tropics.


In the United States the production of hemp is almost confined to Kentucky (Fig 43). Three-fourths of the American hemp fiber is produced in that State in the counties of Fayette, Woodford, Jessamine, Garrard, Clark, Bourbon, Boyle, Scott, and Shelby. These nine counties are in the famous blue-grass region, of which Lexington, the principal hemp market, is the center. The most important secondary hemp markets in this region are Nicholasville, Versailles, Lancaster, Danville, Winchester, Paris, Georgetown, Shelbyville, and Frankfort. Small scattered areas of hemp are cultivated intermittently in other parts of the State, and there are probably few counties in Kentucky in which an attempt has not been made at some time to establish the hemp-growing industry.

There are two centers of hemp cultivation in Nebraska--Fremont and Havelock. During the past two or three seasons about 100 acres have been grown at each of these places. In California, hemp is cultivated at Gridley, in Butte County. The industry has been gradually established there during the last half dozen years, and having passed the stages of experiment and loss due to new and untried conditions, there is now a tendency to develop and increase the acreage. Trials in hemp cultivation have been made on Ryers Island, near Riovista, in the Sacramento Valley, and in San Benito County. During the past two years hemp has been grown successfully on a small scale near Houston, Tex., and with improved methods of handling the crop it seems probable that it may become a profitable industry in that region. Hemp has been grown in the vicinity of Champaign and Rantoul, in eastern Illinois, and along the Missouri River, between St. Joseph and Kansas City, but its cultivation in these localities has been almost discontinued, except at Rantoul, where about 400 acres are still cultivated each year.


In Kentucky, as stated, hemp is cultivated most successfully in the blue-grass region, where the soil is chiefly a yellow clay loam or a rich sandy loam, rather firm in texture and usually underlaid with a sub-soil of yellow clay. The land is gently rolling, affording excellent drainage. Exceptionally fine crops are produced on the bottom lands along the Kentucky River and its tributaries, although it is regarded as risky to cultivate it where it is subject to overflow. A good stand of well-developed hemp plants is rarely obtained in undrained hollows in the uplands, although the soil in these hollows seems more fertile than that on the surrounding hillsides.

In Nebraska hemp is cultivated on rich, black, friable prairie loam, comparatively loose and light in texture and lying high, with good drainage. Repeated efforts to cultivate hemp on the "gumbo" and other low-lying soils there have demonstrated that while these soils may produce some large hemp plants it is practically impossible to secure on them a good, even stand of hemp stalks of the proper size for fiber. In Texas good crops of hemp have been produced on rich dark prairie soil, but on upland soils, subject to drought, the crop has proved a failure. In California hemp is grown on alluvial soils in the bottom lands along the rivers. In the testing gardens of the Department of Agriculture, where several European and Japanese varieties of hemp have been tested during the past two years, the plants have attained a good height, but they have been uneven in size, and the fiber produced is not as tough as that produced in Kentucky and Nebraska. The soil of the testing garden is alluvial, composed chiefly of sand and silt, and almost devoid of clay.

An ideal hemp soil must be rich in available fertilizing elements, especially nitrogen and potash, to insure a rapid growth; deep and sufficiently loose in texture to permit the development of the root system and also to allow good drainage; sufficiently friable to make a good, mellow seed bed, so as to insure uniform germination of seed, yet with clay enough to give it a good body and firm texture. A good supply of humus (decaying vegetable and animal matter) is necessary, not only to furnish plant food, but to retain moisture. Very few farm crops require so much water as hemp, yet it will not endure standing water about its roots. It is not grown commercially under irrigation, and the effects of inundation on crops in river bottoms indicate that it would not thrive if subjected to the ordinary methods of flooding practiced in the irrigation of broadcast crops. In soils of good capillarity, where the general level of the soil water is within 10 feet of the surface, there is little danger of injury from drought after the first thirty days, during which the root system of the hemp plant will become well established.



In Kentucky, hemp sometimes follows hemp on the same land for two or three years, and if the stalks are retted on the same land and fertilizer applied to make up for the fertility taken off by the crops, no serious injury may result. It is the general practice, however, and doubtless the better practice, to cultivate a series of crops in rotation. A common five-year rotation is clover, hemp, corn, wheat, clover. Clover seeded in the growing wheat in spring occupies the land two years. Hemp follows clover whenever this is practicable. The stubble and roots of the clover, rich in stored-up nitrogen, furnish the desired fertilizing elements well distributed, and also the humus necessary for the development of a rapid-growing crop like hemp in soils long under cultivation.

In California and Nebraska no crop rotation is practiced for hemp, and on the deep, rich prairie soils of Nebraska, where there seems to be an almost inexhaustible supply of humus, it is claimed that the best results are obtained where hemp follows hemp through a long series of years. Hemp prevents the growth of weeds and other vegetation which would be found on such soils in most other crops or after other crops are laid by, and its cultivation also seems to make the soil more uniform in character.


In California and Nebraska the hemp is retted on the land where it is grown, and in this manner a portion of the fertilizing elements in the crop is returned to the soil. No other fertilizer is used in those States, and none seems necessary as yet on the deep, rich soils. In Kentucky, hemp is cultivated in a region noted for its horses and fine herds of cattle and sheep, as well as for its blue grass and hemp. The soils throughout this region have been kept in a high state of fertility, as is nearly always the case where stock raising is an important element in mixed farming. Barnyard manure is applied to corn and wheat, the crops preceding hemp in the rotation, but no fertilizer is applied to the hemp crop itself. Fresh stable manure applied as a top dressing produces an uneven growth of hemp plants, and when plowed under just before seeding it has a tendency to dry out the soil. Fertilizers, to produce satisfactory results with hemp, must be thoroughly and uniformly mixed with the soil, and should have a tendency to retain moisture. Barnyard manure and clover sod, therefore, being humus formers, may be expected to give better results in the long run than commercial fertilizers, which tend to deplete the humus. In the Southern States, where clover does not succeed and where stock raising has not yet received due attention, cowpeas and cotton-seed meal will make good fertilizers for hemp. Alkaline chlorides like chloride of sodium (common salt) tend to increase the cellulose in plants at the expense of starch and sugar. The application of salt may therefore be expected to increase the quantity and also to improve the quality of fiber in the hemp plant, and in experimental cultures this has been proved to be true. Salt must be used with caution, however, since it is likely to prove very injurious on light soils or soils lacking in fertility. Muriate of potash has an effect similar to that of common salt.


The best results are usually secured from deep fall plowing, followed by thorough harrowing in the spring. In practice, however, the land is plowed at all seasons through the fall, winter, and early spring, when the weather and conditions of the soil will permit. The hemp spread for retting often remains on the ground nearly all winter, and this prevents fall plowing when hemp is retted on land to be used for the same crop. In Kentucky the hemp is usually spread for retting on permanent pasture land, so as not to interfere with plowing. Thorough, deep plowing is necessary to fit the soil to retain moisture and to give opportunity for the development of the roots. Harrowing before the seed is sown is generally necessary to make the surface seed bed fine and uniform. Harrowing is advisable even in loose, friable soils which are pretty well pulverized by the plow, since the rough furrows left by the plow will result in uneven covering of the seed and lack of uniformity in germination.


For the best results the seeds should be sown in spring at about the time for sowing oats. In Kentucky, hemp seed is sown from the middle of March to the last of April; in Nebraska, from April to June; in California, in February and March. The best hemp crops are obtained by drilling and cross drilling with a force feed drill. This distributes the seed evenly and covers it at a uniform depth. An even stand of plants, uniform in size, is one of the principal objects to keep in mind in nearly every operation in hemp culture. It is well-nigh impossible to make good fiber from a mixture of stalks of various sizes. Unevenness in size of stalks will result from a lack of homogeneity of soil or from a lack of uniformity in the surface, in the distribution of the seed, or in the depth at which the seed is covered. A bushel of seed per acre is the quantity usually sown. If the seed is fresh (from crop of previous year), is small-sized, and germinates well, this quantity is ordinarily sufficient; but on very rich soils a heavier seeding and on poor soils a lighter seeding is advisable. Good hemp seed should germinate 85 to 95 per cent within ten days. Before sowing it is advisable to make a test to determine the percentage of germination, and to use the data thus obtained in determining what amount of seed per acre to sow.


If the land has been properly prepared before seeding and the soil is suitable for hemp, weeds will rarely grow sufficiently to injure the crop. In some instances it may be advisable to pull out pokeweed, smartweed, and tall ragweed, when these overtop the hemp before it is 2 feet high, but it is best not to tramp through the crop more than is necessary, for bending and breaking the young plant will cause uneven growth. Broom rape (Orobanche ramosa), an annual plant parasitic on hemp roots, is the most injurious weed in hemp fields. It is disseminated by its very abundant small seeds, similar in size to those of tobacco, which adhere to the resinous coverings of hemp seed. It is most injurious in Kentucky and Illinois, sometimes causing almost complete ruin in hemp crops. No complaints of it have been received from California, and although it has been introduced in Nebraska, it has not caused any damage to the hemp crops there. Broom rape is an inconspicuous plant, growing not more than 6 to 12 inches high at the base of the hemp stalks, and is usually not noticed until the hemp plants suddenly begin to turn yellow and die a few weeks before harvest time. In some instances a partial crop is saved by cutting the hemp as soon as the first effects of broom rape are observed, but the fiber thus obtained is usually rather weak. The seeds of this weed retain for a long time their ability to germinate, lying dormant in the soil, and control or eradication is thus rendered extremely difficult. It can develop only on the roots of a few crops like tobacco, hemp, and tomatoes, and the best remedy is to leave these crops out of the rotation on infested land for a period of at least twelve or fifteen years. Aside from broom rape, which, being parasitic, does not require light, there are few weeds which can persist in the dense shade produced by the hemp as grown for fiber. The hemp grows so rapidly and attains such a height that it overtops all ordinary weeds and chokes them out. It is generally regarded as an excellent crop for clearing land of annual or biennial weeds, and it has been suggested as a good crop for subduing the growth of wild vegetation on reclaimed river bottom lands. Unless such soils could be well prepared by thorough cultivation, it is not likely that a satisfactory yield of fiber could be secured.



Hemp is cut when the staminate plants are in flower. The time of harvest varies from eighty to one hundred and forty days from the date of seeding, the period of growth depending on the mean temperature and the supply of moisture, and on the variety. When sown at the proper season hemp is usually cut late in August or September (in July in California and Texas).

In some instances good fiber has been secured in Nebraska from hemp cut before flowering, but ordinarily the fiber is best when the crop is harvested just before the staminate plants are in full flower. If cut too early the fiber will be fine, but lacking in strength, deficient in yield, and wasting at every operation in its preparation. If allowed to become too mature the fiber will be coarse, harsh, and brittle.


In California hemp is cut with self-rake reapers or mowing machines. In Nebraska mowing machines have been superseded by self-rake reapers (fig. 44). Reapers have been used quite extensively in Kentucky during the past two years, and they seem to be growing in popularity there. Most of the hemp in Kentucky, however, is still cut by hand with the primitive reaping knife or hemp cutter, which is something between a corn cutter and a bush scythe, but unlike either (Pl. LXXX, fig. 1 1901 USDA PLATE LXXX). An experienced hand with a reaping knife will cut about one-half acre per day. With a sweep-rake reaper, under favorable conditions, from 5 to 7 acres may be cut in a day, and with a mowing machine, 7 to 10 acres. Hemp does not lodge like grain or heavy clover, but on windy days it is impossible to cut with either reaper or mower in the direction that the wind is blowing, for instead of falling back of the cutting bar the stalks drop down between the guards, where they are repeatedly cut off. The heavy, green, woody stalks, one-eighth to one-half inch in diameter and 8 to 14 feet tall, are much more difficult to handle than grass or grain, and they cause a much greater strain on the machine. Ordinary grain reapers are not entirely satisfactory for harvesting hemp; they are rarely strong enough. The experience of those who have used reapers indicates that a successful hemp-harvesting machine of the self-rake type should be made especially strong, having a cutting bar not more than 3 1/2 feet long, arranged to cut within 2 inches of the ground, extra heavy sections with rapid motion, and driving wheel with broader rim and larger lugs than are usually made for self-rake machines. Opinions differ as to whether two or three rakes give the best results. A team of four good farm horses is generally regarded as necessary for cutting hemp with a self-rake reaper, and in Kentucky an extra hand is employed to drive. In California and Nebraska one man attends to both horses and machine. Some form of harvesting machine must soon take the place of the hemp knife, since it is ever more difficult to secure the skilled labor necessary to cut the crop by hand, and where hemp is raised on a large scale it is impossible with the slow hand methods to get it all cut at the proper season.


After the hemp is cut it is allowed to lie on the ground from four to eight days to dry. The unbound bundles are usually turned, so as to dry both sides. To turn them a stick or fork handle is run under the tops and they are thrown endwise over the butts. When dry the hemp is usually bound in small bundles with cheap twine or the small hemp stalks and set up in shocks (Pl. LXXX, fig. 2 1901 USDA PLATE LXXX) or stacked. If it is soon to be spread for retting on the same land it is placed in shocks without binding. When cut with a mowing machine the tangled stalks are raked into windrows like hay. In stacks properly built (Pl. LXXX, fig. 3 1901 USDA PLATE LXXX) the hemp will remain uninjured for a period of two or three years; furthermore, the quality of the fiber is improved, and the processes of breaking and cleaning it are made easier by a kind of sweating or fermentation that the stalks undergo in the stack. In spite of the advantages to be gained in stacking, it is often omitted on account of the extra handling and the lack of skilled labor to make the stacks, which must be constructed with even greater care than stacks of wheat or oats.


Retting, or "rotting," is a process in which the vegetable gums surrounding the fiber are dissolved and the fiber is at the same time freed somewhat from the woody interior portion of the stalk and also from the thin outer cuticle. These gums are not soluble in water, but they are destroyed by a kind of putrefaction which takes place when the stalks are immersed for some time in soft water or are exposed to the weather.


Retting by immersing the stalks in water is largely practiced in France and Italy, and it was practiced in this country until the middle of the last century, before hemp was so completely superseded by cotton in the manufacture of fine woven goods. Water-retted fiber is lighter in color and finer in texture, and it commands a higher price than dew-retted fiber, but it requires a large amount of labor and expensive retting tanks. No process has yet been devised in America by which hemp can be water-retted so as to make it yield as great a profit as when dew-retted.

Investigations in Europe have demonstrated that certain micro-organisms are always present in flax when retting, and these agents play a most important part in the retting process.<1> It is suggested that pure cultures of these amylo-bacteria can be made to facilitate the retting in much the same manner that fermentation is started in making wine and vinegar. In experiments conducted on a small scale flax was retted much more rapidly when the bacteria were supplied. The process of retting hemp is exactly the same as that of retting flax, and it is possible that by making use of the necessary bacteria the length of time and labor required for water-retting may be reduced to within the limits of profitable production. It seems impracticable, however, on account of the great bulk of the crop, to attempt to carry on the operation of retting under cover, as would be necessary in order to have the conditions under control. It may be possible to use the bacteria in a solution to spray on the hemp as it is spread for retting in the field.


Nearly all the hemp now produced in the United States is dew-retted. It is spread in long rows on the ground during the fall and early winter and exposed to the weather until the bark, including the fiber, readily slips from the inner woody portion (Pl. LXXXI, fig. 2 1901 USDA PLATE LXXXI). In Nebraska and California the hemp is spread in the stubble fields where it has been cut. In Kentucky it is usually spread in closely cropped blue-grass pasture land, and is sometimes hauled 2 or 3 miles from the hemp fields to the retting grounds. The plants are turned at least once to secure even retting, the tops being thrown over in the same manner as when turned in drying.

In Kentucky most of the hemp is spread for retting during the month of November, but owing to unfavorable weather and inability to secure retting lands or labor at the desired time, the retting period often extends from soon after the harvest until the following spring. The time required for dew-retting hemp depends upon the weather, and varies from two to ten weeks. Warm, rainy weather causes the hemp to ret rapidly, but it increases the danger of loss, since it is often difficult or even impossible to turn the hemp while the rains continue, and it is retted unevenly or much of it is overretted. The process which seems necessary to destroy the vegetable gums surrounding the fiber injures the fiber itself if permitted to continue too long. A period of warm rains setting in after the hemp has been spread several days and has reached an advanced stage of retting is almost sure to prove injurious to the fiber. The best fiber is obtained from hemp retted slowly during the fall, since it is then easier to secure uniformity and also to check the process before it becomes injurious. Light warm rains soon after the hemp is spread are beneficial to start the retting process. Water charged with the specific bacteria for retting and applied with spraying apparatus might perhaps be substituted for these uncertain showers. When the hemp has been retted sufficiently for the fiber to be readily separated, the stalks are raked together and set up in loose shocks to dry, or hauled to the place where they are to be broken.


Breaking is the process by which the fiber is separated from the stalk and roughly cleaned. It prepares the fiber for market as rough hemp, and is usually the last operation performed on it by the farmer or hemp grower. The work of breaking begins as soon as the retted hemp is ready, and often continues until late in the spring. The greater part is broken during January and February.


Nearly all of the hemp is broken by hand breaks (Pl. LXXXI, fig. 1 1901 USDA PLATE LXXXI), such as have been in use many centuries. The crude heavy wooden breaks are all made by carpenters after one very simple pattern, and cost only $5 to $6 each. With one of these an experienced hand under most favorable circumstances can clean out about 250 pounds of fiber in a day. The average day's product of breaking is about 100 pounds of clean fiber. The usual wages paid for breaking 1 cent per pound of fiber. The work is performed by alternately crushing or breaking the stalks between the long jaws of the break and beating and whipping them over the break to free the hurds from the fiber. It is a slow process, requiring not only strength, but skill. The value of the product depends largely upon the skill of the laborer. There is considerable loss of fiber in beating it against the break to shake off the hurds, and with new and unskilled laborers this loss is often an item of importance. The principal objections to hand breaking are its slowness and cost. To break an average crop of 50 acres requires the services of 10 skilled hemp breakers for two months and costs at least $500. The hand break must give way to machinery.


Several machines have been devised for breaking hemp, but they have not given complete satisfaction. Very few of them have succeeded at all in breaking hemp in commercial quantities.

A machine consisting of a series of coarsely fluted rollers followed by a rapidly revolving spiked cylinder has been in use for some years in California and Nebraska. It breaks the hemp and delivers the fiber in the form of tow. This machine seems to be particularly well adapted to the preparation of fiber from tangled hemp stalks cut with a mowing machine.

In the hemp factories at Lexington there are machines consisting essentially of long series of corrugated rollers which are occasionally used for softening the fiber. It is said that these machines may be used for breaking hemp, but they are not actually so used. These and also the break used in California are too heavy to be taken into the field, and they require more power than can be furnished by an ordinary thrashing engine.

During the past season three decorticators have been in operation near Lexington, by which the hemp stalk is crushed in passing between rollers, corrugated for unretted hemp, and smooth for retted. The hurds are then loosened by a rapidly vibrating mechanism, and the fiber is partly cleaned by a kind of carrier, which gives a rapid scraping motion. These machines break the hemp well and without waste or injury to the fiber, but do not clean out the hurds as well as is desired. They are portable, weighing only 2,000 pounds, and require only 6 horsepower for operation. An ordinary thrashing engine furnishes sufficient power to run two breaks. The hurds are used as fuel for the engine. The average day's output from each of these machines is 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of rough hemp. Attention is called to these machines especially, since they are the first portable machines that have proved successful, working out in the field and producing untangled long-line fiber similar to that cleaned on the hand break.


Several hundred tons of unretted hemp stalks have been broken on the decorticators used at Lexington during the past season. The fiber thus produced is degummed and prepared for spinning by a chemical process. The finished fiber produced in this manner is of fine quality, and is used for the same purposes as the better grades of imported flax. The process is not yet in general use, however, and there is only a limited market for unretted hemp fiber. It would effect a decided improvement in the industry if the farmer could break his hemp successfully and find a ready market for the fiber without the tedious and uncertain process of retting.


The rough hemp fiber is tied in bales weighing about 150 pounds each, and most of it is sold to dealers in the local markets. In some instances where it is cleaned better than usual it is shipped to the manufacturers, but most of it is hackled by the local dealers. This work is nearly all performed by hand, and consists in combing the fiber by drawing it across clusters of upright, sharp steel needles. The long fiber, nearly as long as the hemp stalks, combed out in this manner, is known in the market as "Kentucky single-dressed hemp." If the fiber is of especially good quality, it is combed still further upon a finer hackle, and it then becomes "Kentucky double-dressed hemp," which is the highest grade of American hemp quoted on the fiber market. (Pl. LXXXI, fig. 3. 1901 USDA PLATE LXXXI)

The price of hemp varies to a considerable degree, depending on the demand and supply of other fibers almost as much as on the production of the hemp itself. Most of the rough hemp is sold by the farmers during the winter soon after it is broken. The prices during the winter of 1901-1902 are regarded as comparatively high, being 4 1/4 to 5 cents per pound.

The minimum limit of profitable production, according to present
methods, is regarded as about 3 1/4 cents per pound. With the
present values and profits in other farm productions, a price
considerably above this limit must be paid to induce farmers to
grow hemp rather than devote their lands to stock raising and
corn and tobacco. Even at the present time hemp is giving place
to tobacco in Kentucky on many rich farms in the blue-grass region.

The generally decreasing production is not due to a diminishing yield, but to a reduced acreage. A larger acreage was planted in 1901 than during the previous two years, and allowing for loss due to drought, the 1901 crop is estimated at about 8,000,000 pounds.

Under fair average conditions an acre of hemp yields about 1,000 pounds of rough fiber, or about 6,000 pounds of dry retted stalks. At 5 cents per pound for the fiber it is a very good paying crop. It is a reasonably safe crop, aside from the uncertainties of retting. It is not often seriously injured by fungous diseases or insects. Its most serious enemy is the parasitic weed branched broom rape, mentioned under "Weeds."


Hemp seed is produced on plants grown in checks or sometimes in drills, and cultivated like corn. These plants grow stout and coarse, with numerous branches, and they are worthless for fiber. No horticultural varieties are recognized in this country. Nearly all of the hemp grown here in recent years is of Chinese origin. The seed is obtained in small quantities from American missionaries in central China, and this is usually cultivated for two generations for seed production before it is sown broadcast for fiber. This method is pursued not only to secure a sufficient quantity of seed, but also because better fiber plants are produced after the seed has been acclimated by cultivation in this country. The hemp growers of Kentucky generally agree in the opinion that the best hemp is produced by small dark-colored seed. In Japan, on the contrary, the best varieties have comparatively large light-colored seed.

The Chinese and Japanese varieties of hemp are very similar in character. They grow to a height of 9 to 15 feet, with slender stalks, few branches, and usually with internodes 8 to 12 inches in length. The pistillate flowers on the plants grown for seed are in rather small clusters, scattered on branches of the long slender limbs. (See Pl. LXXIX, fig. 2. 1901 USDA PLATE LXXIX) The European varieties, including the Piedmont, Neapolitan, Hungarian, and Russian, while sufficiently different in character to be readily distinguished, all conform to a general type, sometimes called the Smyrma type.<1> (See Pl. LXXIX, fig. 3. 1901 USDA PLATE LXXIX) This differs from the China-Japan type in a more compact growth, shorter plants, shorter internodes, and shorter and more rigid limbs, bearing the seeds in rather large, dense clusters. These European varieties reach maturity from ten to thirty days earlier than the China-Japan varieties under similar conditions.

Until comparatively recent times hemp seed of European origin was used in Kentucky, and its effects are still plainly seen in the mixed character of plants too often found in the hemp fields. These plants are so prolific in seed that the growers hesitate to throw them out when harvesting their hemp seed.

An ideal hemp plant should be 10 to 12 feet in height, one-fourth to three-eighths inch in diameter near the base, with internodes 10 inches or more in length, and stems prominently fluted, with comparatively large hollows, making them thin-shelled and more easily broken. The fiber is generally tougher on the thin-shelled stalks. The Chinese and best Japanese varieties approach most nearly this ideal. Starting with these as a foundation and practicing a rigid seed selection for a half dozen generations or longer would undoubtedly result in improved varieties of uniform plants adapted to cultivation in this country.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Principle Commercial Plant Fibers - 1903 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture

Pubdate: 1904
Source: 1903 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture
Author: Lyster H. Dewey, Botanist in Charge of Investigations of Fiber Plants, Bureau of Plant Industry
Pages: 387-388, 392-393



One of the most important manufacturing industries of this country is that which includes the various lines of textiles. Leaving out the silk and woolen mills, which use chiefly animal fibers, there are the cotton factories, the linen and jute mills, and the twine and cordage mills, which use plant fibers exclusively. These number about 1,200 distinct establishments, representing an invested capital of more than $500,000,000 and giving productive employment to more than 300,000 persons.

The source of the raw material required by this great industry is an item of no small interest. Most of the cotton is produced in our Southern States, but nearly all the other vegetable fibers are imported. The importations of raw fiber, including cotton, during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1903, amounted to $46,161,172. These figures cover only the raw fiber. The importations of all the different kinds of textile plant fibers in the various stages of manufacture, from yarn and coarse twine to fine woven goods, laces, and hosiery, amount annually to more than $80,000,000.

Classification of Fibers

Vegetable fibers used in textile manufactures in this country may be readily divided into three rather distinct classes, either from the standpoint of the manufacturer, who regards the kind of machinery or process of treating the fiber and the character of the goods produced, or from the viewpoint of the botanist, who regards the character of the plant and the manner in which the fiber is borne. These three classes are:
(1) The cottons, with soft, lint-like fiber 1/2 inch to 2 inches long, composed of single cells borne on the seeds of different species of cotton plants.
(2) The soft fibers, or bast fibers, including flax, hemp, and jute; flexible fibers of soft texture, 10 to 100 inches in length, composed of many overlapping cells, and borne in the inner bark of the plants. (Pl. XLV, fig. 1.1903; USDA PLATE XLV FIBER TYPES)
(3) The hard, or leaf, fibers, including manila, sisal, mauritius, New Zealand fibers, and istle, all having rather stiff, woody fibers 1 to 10 feet long, composed of numerous cells in bundles, borne in the tissues of the leaf or leaf stem. (Pl. XLV, fig. 2.1903; USDA PLATE XLV FIBER TYPES)

. . .


. . .


Hemp (Pl. XLVII, fig. 2 1903 USDA PLATE XLVII, FIG 2. GRIDLEY, CALIF. HEMP) originated in western Asia. Like flax, it was cultivated for fiber several centuries before the Christian era, and, next to flax, it was the most extensively used vegetable fiber until the introduction of cheaper cotton and jute. Hemp is now cultivated commercially in Russia, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Turkey, China, Japan, and the United States. In Europe several rather distinct varieties of hemp are grown, the principal types being the Piedmont of France and northern Italy; the Neapolitan of southern Italy; the Smyrna of Turkey and Asia Minor; and the Russian of Russia and Hungary. All of these, and also the Japanese, Chinese, and Kentucky (or China-American) hemp, belong to the same species, Cannabis sativa L. This is the only true hemp, but the name hemp is unfortunately applied to many other fibers, most of which are quite different in character. About 15,000 acres in this country are annually devoted to hemp production. Nearly all of this is in the bluegrass region of Kentucky. Small area - less than 1,000 acres in all - are cultivated near Lincoln, Nebr., and at Gridley and Rio Vista, Cal. The total production of hemp fiber, varying from 6,000 to 9,000 tons, is not sufficient to supply the demands of our manufacturers, and more than 4,000 tons are imported annually, chiefly from Italy and Russia. Hemp fiber, prepared by water retting as practiced in Italy, is of a creamy-white color, lustrous, soft, and pliable. It makes a satisfactory substitute for flax, and is used for medium grades of nearly all classes of goods commonly made from flax, except the finer linens. When prepared by dew retting as practiced in this country, the fiber is gray, and somewhat harsh to the touch. It is used for yacht cordage, ropes, fishing lines, linen crash, homespuns, hemp carpets, and as warp in making all kinds of carpets and rugs.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
USDA: The Cultivation Of Hemp In The U.S - May 23, 1910

Pubdate: May 23, 1910
Source: United States Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry - Circular No. 57.
Author: Lyster H. Dewey, Botanist in Charge of Fiber Investigations, Bureau of Plant Industry
Pages: 1 - 7



Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is an annual plant of the mulberry family, cultivated for the production of a soft bast fiber. This fiber, gray if dew-retted, or light yellow if water-retted, is also called hemp. In a strict sense the name "hemp" is correctly applied only to this plant and its fiber.

Hemp is cultivated commercially for fiber production in Russia, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Germany, France, Belgium, Turkey, China, Japan and the United States. Russia produces more for export than all the other countries.

Most of the hemp cultivated in this country, amounting to from 15,000 to 20,000 acres annually, is grown in the bluegrass region of Kentucky, of which Lexington is the center. About 600 acres are grown each year near Lincoln, Nebr., and an area of about the same size in the lower Sacramento Valley in California. During the past two years hemp has been grown successfully at Kouts and North Liberty, Ind., and at Hanover, Pa. It has also been grown experimentally in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Arkansas.


Hemp requires about 110 days for its growth. It should have a rainfall of at least 10 inches during this period. It has not been grown commercially under irrigation. If the level of free water in the soil is within 5 to 10 feet from the surface, as is often the case in alluvial river-bottom lands, and the character of the soil is such that there is good capillary action to bring the water up, hemp will not suffer from draught, even should there be very little rainfall. Hemp is uninjured by light frosts. It may therefore be sown earlier than oats and harvested later than corn.


Hemp requires for its best development a rich, alluvial, or loamy soil not subject to severe drought, yet not of a swampy condition. It is not recommended for a light sandy soil, unless it follows a crop of clover or beans which has left a plentiful supply of nitrogenous fertilizer. The soil should also be well supplied with lime. Hemp will not grow well in an acid soil or on gumbo soils. Excellent crops have been obtained in Indiana during the past two seasons on peaty soils over marl.

The best fertilizer for the hemp crop is barnyard manure, and this should be applied to the previous crop or, at the latest, in the fall before sowing the hemp. Hemp may be introduced in any crop rotation, but it is best to have it follow peas, beans, or clover. It may follow corn or grain, providing these crops are well fertilized. A dense growth of hemp destroys nearly all weeds, and as it is a rather deep rooting plant and shades the soil it leaves the land in excellent condition for any crop which may follow.


Hemp seed should be sown at the rate of approximately 1 bushel per acre at about the time of sowing oats or as early as possible after the period of severe frosts. If possible the land should be plowed during the previous fall. Fall plowing is essential for success if a heavy sod or much vegetation is to be turned under. The soil should be harrowed at least once before seeding in order to settle the furrows.

The seed us sown broadcast by hand or by any good broadcast seeded set for seeds smaller than average grains of wheat. Good results are obtained with an end-gate seeder, a roller-press grain drill, or an ordinary toothed grain drill with the teeth removed and replaced by a board dragging on the ground below the feeding tubes. The seed falling on the board will be spread out evenly over the surface. The ordinary teeth cover the seed too deeply and crowd them in drills from 6 to 8 inches apart, so that the hemp does not grow as evenly as when it is spread over the entire surface. the seed may be covered by means of a light straight-toothed harrow. Drills similar to grain drills are made especially for sowing hemp seed and are largely used in Kentucky. These hemp-seed drills will be found most economical if large areas of hemp are to be sown or if hemp is to be raised year after year as a regular crop.

After seeding it is best to roll the land in order to have a smooth surface that will permit close cutting with machinery. After seeding the crop requires no further attention until harvesting.


Most of the hemp is now cut with self-rake reapers made especially for harvesting this crop. These machines require 2 men, or a man and a boy, and 4 horses for their operation and 1 man to keep the knives sharp. They cut a swath of about 5 feet, or about 5 or 6 acres a day. They leave the hemp stalks in gavels. After lying in the gavel for two or three days the stalks are either spread for retting, set in shocks without binding, or tied in bundles and set in shocks. When the harvest is late, or in the North, where there is little danger of hot dry weather that would "sunburn" the stalks, labor may be saved by spreading the hemp for retting immediately after cutting. If there is danger of hot dry weather after harvest the hemp should be cured in shocks. If it is to be stacked it must be bound in bundles before shocking. Stacking is not regarded as a necessary step in the preparation of hemp, but a greater weight and also a better quality of fiber are obtained from stalks which have been stacked. If the stacks are properly made they may be left almost indefinitely before retting. Three men will put up two stacks a day f about 8 tons each.

In Nebraska the hemp is cut with a mowing machine with a special homemade attachment, bending the stalks over in the same direction that the machine is cutting. One man with one span of horses will cut from 7 to 9 acres a day. The ordinary price paid there for cutting hemp is 50 cents per acre, including team and machine. The hemp is left on the ground as it falls until retted, when it is raked up with a horserake and hauled to the machine brake to be made into long tow.


Practically all of the hemp produced in Kentucky is dew-retted. It is spread on the ground, either from the gavel, shock, or stack, in rows with the stalks side by side and not more than two, or at most three stalks in thickness, the butts all even and in one direction. It is left in this manner for from four to twelve weeks, or sometimes even longer, until the bark, including the fiber, separates readily from the woody portion of the stalk. The stalks are then raked up and set up in shocks to dry. As soon as dried they are ready for breaking.


Much of the hemp produced in Kentucky is still broken by the old-fashioned hand brake, but this method is not recommended for introduction into any new locality because it requires a degree of skill that would be difficult to secure in laborers not accustomed to the work. Even in Kentucky the newer generation of laborers do not learn to break hemp, and this is one of the principal reasons that the industry is not carried on there to a greater extent. At least six different kinds of machines for breaking hemp and preparing the fiber have been in use during the past three years, and some of these prepare the fiber very much better than the had brake.

At Havelock, Nebr., and at Courtland, Cal., there are power machines consisting essentially of a series of fluted rollers, somewhat like a just softener, followed by large beating wheels, and these machines make long tow. They will handle a greater variety of different-sized hemp stalks in a satisfactory manner than the other machine brakes, but as the fiber is tangled instead of being straight it does not command as high a price as that produced by the hand brakes or by the other machine brakes mentioned.


The yield of hemp fiber ranges from 500 to 2,000 pounds to the acre. The general average yield under ordinary conditions is about 1,000 pounds to the acre. Yields are sometimes estimated at 150 pounds of fiber for each foot in height of the stalks, and also at 20 per cent of the weight of the dry, retted stalks, but estimates based on these factors alone may be misleading for slender stalks yield much more fiber than coarse ones.


All of the hemp fiber produced in this country is used in American mills, and increasing quantities are being imported. It is used for making gray twines, "commercial twines," carpet warp, and ropes of small diameter.

The twenty-five mills in the United States using hemp fiber are mostly in or near Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and San Francisco.

The average price paid during the last twenty years by local dealers to the farmers in Kentucky for the rough fiber tied up in handmade bales has been about 5 cents a pound. The prices during the same time for the fiber sorted, pressed in bales, and delivered at the mills as ordered have ranged from $130 to $175 per long ton.

The market is occasionally overstocked with low-grade hemp or tow, but there is little danger of an oversupply of good, strong, well-cleaned fiber.


The following rough outline of expenses and returns may serve as a basis for estimating profits, keeping in mind that there may be considerable variation either way, due to local conditions.

Cost per acre.
Seed, 1 bushel, at $4
Harrowing once
Harrowing (omitted if special drill is used)
Spreading for retting
Picking up
Breaking, 1,000 pounds, at 1 1/2 cents per pound
Bailing and marketing
Total cost per acre

Returns per acre.
1,000 pounds of hemp fiber, at 5 cents

Gross returns

Hemp can not be grown profitable in small isolated areas. Two hundred acres or more should be grown on one or more farms near together, so as to warrant the introduction of special machinery for drilling, harvesting, breaking, and baling, and also make it possible to ship the fiber in full car lots.

Before undertaking the cultivation of hemp on a commercial scale it is advisable to try some preliminary experiments with half an acre or less, to determine whether the local conditions are adapted to the crop.

James Wilson,
Secretary of Agriculture.

Washington, D.C., March 28, 1910.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Soils Suited To Hemp - USDA 1913 Yearbook

Pubdate: 1914
Source: 1913 Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture
Author: Lyster H. Dewey, Botanist in Charge of Fiber-Plant Investigations, Bureau of Plant Industry
Pages: 308-309, 335-337



Hemp requires for the best development of the plant, and also for the production of a large quantity and good quality of fiber, a rich, moist soil having good natural drainage, yet not subject to severe drought at any time during the growing season. A clay loam of rather loose texture and containing a plentiful supply of decaying vegetable matter or an alluvial deposit alkaline and not acid in reaction should be chosen for this crop.


Hemp will not grow well on stiff, impervious, clay soils, or on light sandy or gravelly soils. It will not grow well on soils that in their wild state are overgrown with either sedges or huckleberry bushes. These plants usually indicate acid soils. It will make only a poor growth on soils with a hardpan near the surface or in fields worn out by long cultivation. Clay loams or heavier soils give heavier yields of strong but coarser fiber than are obtained on sandy loams and lighter soils.


Very few of the common weeds troublesome on the farm can survive the dense shade of a good crop of hemp. If the hemp makes a short, weak growth, owing to unsuitable soil, drought, or other causes, it will have little effect in checking the growth of weeds, but a good, dense crop, 6 feet or more in height, will leave the ground practically free from weeds at harvest time. In Wisconsin, Canada thistle has been completely killed and quack-grass severely checked by one crop of hemp. In one 4-acre field in Vernon County, Wis., where Canada thistles were very thick, fully 95 per cent of the thistles were killed where the hemp attained a height of 5 feet or more, but on a dry, gravelly hillside in this same field where it grew only 2 to 3 feet high, the thistles were checked no more than they would have been in a grain crop. Some vines, like the wild morning-glory and bindweed climb up the hemp stalks and secure light enough for growth, but low-growing weeds can not live in a hemp field.


The yield of hemp fiber ranges from 400 to 2,500 pounds per acre. The average yield under good conditions is about 1,000 pounds per acre, of which about three-fourths are line fiber and one-fourth is tow. The yield per acre at different stages of preparation may be stated as follows:

Stalks: Green, freshly cut; 15,000 pounds
Stalks: Dry, as cured in shock; 10,000 pounds
Stalks: Dry, after dew retting; 6,000 pounds
Long fiber, rough hemp; 750 pounds
Tow; 250 pounds

If the 750 pounds of long fiber is hackled it will yield about 340 pounds of single-dressed hemp, 180 pounds shorts, 140 pounds fine tow, and 90 pounds hurds and waste.

The average yields in the principal hemp-producing countries of Europe, based on statements of annual average yields for 5 to 10 years, are as follows:

Russia; 358 pounds
Hungary; 504 pounds
Italy; 622 pounds
France; 662 pounds

The yield is generally higher in both Europe and the United States in regions where machine brakes are used, but this is due, in part at least, to the better crops, for machine brakes usually accompany better farming.


The operations for raising a crop of hemp are essentially the same for raising a crop of wheat or oats up to the time of harvest, and the implements or tools required are merely a plow, disk, drill or seeder, a harrow, and a roller, such as may be found on any well-equipped farm. Estimates of the cost of these operations may therefore be based upon the cost of similar work for other crops with which all farmers are familiar. But the operations of harvesting, retting, breaking, and baling are very different from those for other farm crops in this country. The actual cost will, of course, vary with the varying conditions of different farms.

Hemp can not be economically grown in areas of less than 50 acres in any one locality so as to warrant the use of machinery for harvesting and breaking. The following general estimate is therefore given for what may be considered the smallest practical area:

Estimated cost and returns for 50 acres of hemp.

Plowing (in fall) 50 acres, $2 per acre; $100
Disking (in spring), 50 cents per acre; $25
Harrowing, 30 cents per acre; $15
Seed, 40 bushels, delivered, $4.50 per bushel; $180
Seeding, 40 cents per acre; $20
Rolling, 30 cents per acre; $15
Self-rake reaper for harvesting; $75
Cutting with reaper, $1 per acre; $50
Picking up from gavels and shocking, $1 per acre; $50
Spreading for retting, $1.50 per acre; $75
Picking up from retting swath and setting in shocks, $1.40 per acre; $70
Breaking 50,000 pounds fiber, including use of machine brake, 1.5 cents per pound; $750
Baling 125 bales (400 pounds each), including use of baling press, $1.40 per bale; $175
Marketing and miscellaneous expenses; $150
Total cost; $1,750

Long fiber, 37,500 pounds, 6 cents per pound; $2,250
Tow, 12,500 pounds, 4 cents per pound; $500
Total returns; $2,750

It is not expected that a net profit of $20 per acre, as indicated in the foregoing estimate, may be realized in all cases, but the figures given are regarded as conservative where all conditions are favorable.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Hemp, Extension Of Industry - USDA 1913 Yearbook

Pubdate: 1914
Source: 1913 Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture
Author: Lyster H. Dewey, Botanist in Charge of Fiber-Plant Investigations, Bureau of Plant Industry
Pages: 292-293, 344-346



Hemp was first grown in Missouri about 1835, and in 1840 1,600 tons were produced in that State. Four years later the output had increased to 12,500 tons, and it was thought that Missouri would excel Kentucky in the production of this fiber. With the unsatisfactory methods of cleaning the fiber on hand brakes and the difficulties of transporting the fiber to the eastern markets, hemp proved less profitable than other crops, and the industry was finally abandoned about 1890.

Hemp was first grown in Champaign, Ill., about 1875. A cordage mill was established there for making twines from the fiber, which was prepared in the form of long tow by a large machine brake. The cordage mill burned and the industry was discontinued in 1902 because there was no satisfactory market for the kind of tow produced.

In Nebraska, hemp was first grown at Fremont in 1887 by men from Champaign, Ill. A binder-twine plant was built, but owing to the low price of sisal, more suitable for binder twine, most of the hemp was sold to eastern mills to be used in commercial twines. After experimenting with machine brakes the company brought hand brakes from Kentucky and colored laborers to operate them. The laborers did not stay, and the work was discontinued in 1900. Some of the men who had been connected with the company at Fremont began growing hemp at Havelock, near Lincoln, in 1895. A machine for making long tow, improved somewhat from the one at Champaign, was built. Further improvements were made in the machine and also in the methods of handling the crop, but the industry was discontinued in 1910, owing to the lack of a satisfactory market for the kind of tow produced.

Hemp was first grown on a commercial scale in California at Gridley, in Butte County, by Mr. John Heaney, who had grown it at Champaign and who devised the machine used there for making long tow. Mr. Heaney built a machine with some improvements at Gridley, and after three disastrous inundations from the Feather River moved to Courtland, in the lower Sacramento Valley, where the reclaimed lands are protected by dikes. The work is now being continued at Rio Vista, in Solano County, under more favorable conditions and with a machine still further improved. The hemp fiber produced in California is very strong and is generally lighter in color than that produced in Kentucky.

In 1912 hemp was first cultivated on a commercial scale under irrigation at Lerdo, near Bakersfield, Cal., and a larger acreage was grown there is 1913. The seed for both crops was obtained in Kentucky.


There are no satisfactory tests for these fibers without the aid of a microscope and chemical reagents. A ready, but uncertain, test consists in untwisting the end of twine or yarn. Jute fiber thus unwound is more fuzzy and more brittle than hemp. The two fibers may be distinguished with certainty with a microscope and chemical reagents, as indicated by the differences in the table which follows:

Reactions of hemp and jute. (Matthews, J. Merritt. The Textile Fibers, p. 349, 1908.)

Test: Schweitzer's.
Hemp: Clean fiber dissolved.
Jute: Bluish color, more or less distinct swelling.

Test: Iodin and sulphuric acid.
Hemp: Greenish blue to pure blue
Jute: Yellow to brown.

Test: Anilin sulphate.
Hemp: Faint yellow.
Jute: Golden yellow to orange.

Test: Warming in weak solution of nitric acid and potassium chromate, then washing and warming in dilute solution of soda ash and washing again; place on microscopic slide, and when dry add drop of glycerol. Use polariscope (dark field).
Hemp: Uniform blue or yellow.
Jute: Prismatic colors.

At the present high prices of jute, resulting from increasing demands in foreign markets and a partial failure of the crop in India, jute could not compete successfully with hemp were it not that manufacturers are using it in established lines of goods, and, further, that they are uncertain about securing supplies of hemp.


Hemp is one of the oldest fiber-producing crops and was formerly the most important.

The cultivation of hemp is declining in the United States because of the (1) increasing difficulty in securing sufficient labor for handling the crop with present methods, (2) lack of labor-saving machinery as compared with machinery for handling other crops, (3) increasing profits in other crops, (4) competition of other fibers, especially jute, and (5) lack of knowledge of the crop outside of a limited area in Kentucky.

Hemp was cultivated for fiber in very early times in China.

The history of the distribution of hemp from Asia to other continents indicates its relationships and the development of the best fiber-producing types.

Hemp is cultivated in warm countries for the production of a narcotic drug, but for fiber only in moderately cool and humid temperate regions.

Very few well-marked varieties of hemp of fiber-producing types have been developed.

The climate and soils over large areas in the valley of the Mississippi and its tributaries and in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys in California are suited for hemp.

Hemp improves the physical condition of the soil, destroys weeds, and when retted on the ground, as is the common practice, does not exhaust fertility.

Hemp is recommended for cultivation in regular crop rotations to take the place of a spring-sown grain crop.

Fertilizers are not generally used in growing hemp, but barnyard manure applied to previous crops is recommended.

Hemp is rarely injured by insects or fungous diseases.

Broom rape, a root parasite, is the most serious pest in hemp.

Practically all of the hemp seed used in the United States is produced in Kentucky.

The best seed is obtained from plants cultivated especially for seed production, but some seed is obtained from broadcast overripe fiber crops.

The land should be well plowed and harrowed, so as to be level and uniform.

The seed should be sown early in spring by any method that will distribute and cover it uniformly.

Some hemp is still cut by hand in Kentucky, but the use of machinery for harvesting the crop is increasing.

Dew retting is regarded as the most practical method in this country.

Hand brakes for preparing the fiber are still used, but they are being replaced by machines.

The price of hemp has been generally increasing during the past 30 years.

About 30 different spinning mills in the United States, besides dealers in oakum supplies, offer a market for raw hemp fiber.

The market would expand if manufacturers could be assured of larger supplies.

India jute, often retailed under the name hemp, is the most dangerous competitor of hemp.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Hemp As Paper Making Material 1916 - USDA Bulletin No. 404

Pubdate: October 14, 1916
Authors: Lyster H. Dewey, Botanist in Charge of Fiber-Plant Investigations, and Jason L. Merrill, Paper-Plant Chemist, Paper-Plant Investigations.
Pages: This is an excerpt of the entire report. ". . ." indicates that text is omitted.

NOTE - This bulletin should be useful to all persons who are interested in the economic phases of paper making, especially to print and book paper manufacturers. It also should be of interest to scientific investigators and chemists.

In preparing the report on the manufacture of paper from hemp hurds it became evident that a short discussion of the agricultural aspects of this material should be included in the publication. Such an article was prepared, therefore, and the two reports are here presented together.

By Lyster H. Dewey, Botanist in Charge of Fiber-Plant Investigations.


The woody inner portion of the hemp stalk, broken into pieces and separated from the fiber in the processes of breaking and scutching, is called hemp hurds. These hurds correspond to shives in flax, but are much coarser and are usually softer in texture.

The hemp stalk grown in a broadcast crop for fiber production is from one-eighth to three-eighths of an inch in diameter and from 4 to 10 feet tall. The stalk is hollow, with a cylindrical woody shell, thick near the base, where the stalk is nearly solid, and thinner above, where the hollow is relatively wider.

In the process of breaking, the woody cylinder inside of the fiber-bearing bark is broken into pieces one-half of an inch to 3 inches long and usually split into numerous segments. The thicker lower sections are split less than the thin-shelled upper ones, and they are often left quite solid.


The inner surface of the hurds usually bears a layer of pith, consisting of thin-walled cells nearly spherical or angular, but not elongated. They are more or less crushed and torn. They are probably of little value for paper, but they constitute less than 1 per cent of the weight of the hurds. The principal weight and bulk consist of slender elongated woody cells. The outer surface is covered with fine secondary fibers composed of slender elongated cells, tougher than those of the wood but finer and shorter than those of the hemp fiber of commerce. No method has been devised thus far which completely separates from the hurds all the long fiber. From 5 to 15 per cent of the weight of the hurds consists of hemp fiber, in strands from 3 inches to 8 feet in length. Some fragments of the bark, made up of short cubical cells, usually dark in color, cling to the strands of fiber.


Nearly all of the hemp in the United States is dew retted. The stalks are spread on the ground in swaths, as grain is laid by the cradle. The action of the weather, dew, and rain, aided by bacteria, dissolves the gums, leaving only the fibrous bark and the wood. The plants in this process lose about 60 per cent of their green weight, or about 40 per cent of their air-dry weight.

The stalks are sometimes set up in shocks to cure before retting, and after retting they are set up in shocks to dry. Each time the stalks are handled they are chucked down on the ground to keep the butts even. In these operations sand and clay are often driven up into the hollow at the base of the stalks, and this dirt, which often clings tenaciously, may constitute an objectionable feature in the use of hemp hurds for paper stock.

In Italy and in most localities in Russia and Austria-Hungary where hemp is extensively cultivated, it is retted in water, but water retting has never been practiced in the United States except to a limited extent before the middle of the last century. Hurds from water-retted hemp are cleaner and softer than those from dew-retted hemp.

The fiber is sometimes broken from dry hemp stalks without retting. The hurds thus produced contain a small percentage of soluble gums, chiefly of the pectose series. Comparatively little hemp is prepared in this manner in America.

Process retting by means of weak solutions of chemicals or oils in hot water is practiced to a limited extent. The hurds from these processes may contain traces of the chemicals or oils and also soluble gums in greater degree than those of the dew-retted or water-retted hemp.


The yield of hemp fiber varies from 400 to 2,500 pounds per acre, averaging 1,000 pounds under favorable conditions. The weight of hurds is about five times that of the fiber, or somewhat greater from hemp grown on peaty soils. A yield of 2 1/2 tons of hurds per acre may be taken as a fair average.


Hemp hurds are available only from hemp which is broken by machines, when the hurds may be collected in quantity in one place. Most of the hemp in Kentucky is still broken by hand brakes. These small brakes are moved from shock to shock, so that the hurds are scattered all over the field in small piles of less than 50 pounds each, and it is the common practice to set fire to them as soon as the brake is moved. It would be difficult to collect them at a cost which would permit their use for paper stock.

Where machine brakes are used, the hemp stalks are brought to the machine as grain is brought to a thrashing machine, and the hurds accumulate in large piles, being blown from the machine by wind stackers.

Machine brakes are used in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and California, but to only a limited extent in Kentucky. Five different kinds of machine brakes are now in actual use in this country, and still others are used in Europe. All of the best hemp in Italy, commanding the highest market price paid for any hemp, is broken by machines. The better machine brakes now in use in this country prepare the fiber better and much more rapidly than the hand braes, and they will undoubtedly be used in all localities where hemp raising is introduced as a new industry. They may also be used in Kentucky when their cost is reduced to more reasonable rates, so that they may compete with the hand brake. Hemp-breaking machines are being improved and their use is increasing. The hemp-growing industry can increase in this country only as machine brakes are developed to prepare the fiber. A profitable use for the hurds will add an incentive to the use of the machine brake.


Hemp hurds are used to a limited extent for barnyard litter and stable bedding, as a substitute for sawdust in packing ice, and, in rare instances, for fuel. They are not regarded as having a commercial value for any of these uses, though they are doubtless worth at least $1 per ton on the farm when used for stable bedding. They are a waste product, without value for other purposes which might compete with their use for paper stock.


During the last season, 1915, about 1,500 acres of hemp have been harvested outside of Kentucky and in regions where machine brakes are used. Estimating the yield of hurds at 2 1/2 tons per acre, this should give a total quantity of about 3,750 tons. Large quantities of hemp from the crop of 1914, which are still unbroken in these areas, and large piles of hurds undisturbed where the machines where the machines have been used during the last two or three years, increase the total to more than 7,700 tons. Hemp is now grown outside of Kentucky in the vicinity of McGuffey, east of Lima, Ohio; around Nappanee, Elkhart County, and near Pierceton, in Kosciusko County, Ind.; about Waupun and Brandon, Wis.; and at Rio Vista and Stockton, Cal.

In Kentucky, hemp is grown in most of the counties within a radius of 50 miles of Lexington. No accurate statistics of the acreage are collected, but the crop harvested in 1915 is estimated at 7,000 acres. A machine brake will probably be used in Bourbon County and also in Clark County, but most of the hemp in Kentucky will be broken on hand brakes.


The hurds will have to be baled to facilitate handling in transportation and to economize storage space at the paper mills. The bales will need to be covered with burlap or some material to keep them from shaking out. They may be baled in the same presses that are used for baling hemp fiber, but care must be exercised to avoid breaking the press, for the hurds are more resistant than hemp fiber. A bale of hemp 2 by 3 by 4 feet weighs about 500 pounds. A bale of hurds of the same size will weigh about one-third less, or approximately six bales per ton.

Rough hemp fiber as it is shipped from the farm is not covered; therefore, the covering material must be purchased especially for the hurds. A piece of burlap about 36 by 48 inches placed on either side of the bale will be sufficient, but these pieces, weighing about 3 pounds each, cost bout 40 cents a pair. Baling rope, in addition to jute covering, will cost at least 5 cents per bale, making the total cost of covering and ties $2.70 or more per ton. Possibly chip board, costing about $33 per ton, or not more than 5 cents for the two pieces for each bale, may be used in place of burlap. Chip boards, burlap, and also rope ties may all be used for paper stock. Burlap covers might be returned, to be used repeatedly until worn out, but chip board could not be used more than once.


If burlap covers are used the cost of baling, including covering, ties, use of baling press, power, and labor will amount to at least 60 cents per bale, or about $3.75 per ton. If chip board can be used the cost may be reduced to about $2 per ton. The cost of hauling and loading on the cars will vary from $1 to $3 per ton, depending upon the distance and the roads. The farmer must therefore receive from $4 to $6 per ton for the hurds, baled, on board cars at his home station.


Hemp hurds are the woody inner portion of the hemp stalk, broken into pieces in removing the fiber.

They are not used at present for any purpose that would compete with their use for paper.

Hurds are available only from machine-broken hemp, for the cost of collecting them from the hand brakes would be too great.

About 7,000 tons are now available in restricted localities in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and California.

The quantity is likely to increase as the use of machine brakes increases.

The hurds may be baled in hemp-fiber presses, with partial burlap covers like those on cotton bales, or possibly chip-board covers.

It is estimated that the farmers may deliver the bales on board cars profitably at $4 to $6 per ton.

By Jason L. Merrill, Paper-Plant Chemist, Paper-Plant Investigations.


The purpose of this paper is to report upon preliminary tests which were conducted to determine the paper-making value of hemp hurds, a crop waste of the hemp-fiber industry.

The search for plant materials capable of being utilized in paper manufacture is a comparatively recent but world-wide activity which has for its object the husbanding of present sources of paper-stock supply by the substitution of new materials for some of those which are rapidly becoming less plentiful and more costly.

The abstract idea of utilizing that which is at present a waste can play no important role in such activities, the successful commercial outcome of which must be based on the three fundamental factors - market or demand for product, satisfactory raw material, and cost.

Since hemp hurds are to be treated in this report as a raw material for the manufacture of book and printing papers, the qualities, supply, probable future, and cost of the material will be considered in comparison with wood, with which it must compete. There seems to be little doubt that the present wood supply can not withstand indefinitely the demands placed upon it, and with increased scarcity economy in the use of wood will become imperative. This effect is already apparent in many wood-using industries, and although the paper industry consumes only about 3 per cent of the total forest cut, it is probable that it will be affected through this economy. Our forest are being cut three times as fast as they grow, and as wood becomes more expensive proper growing and reforesting will receive more attention. Thus, naturally, a balance will be established between production and consumption, but as this condition approaches its limiting values the price of wood may rise to such levels that there will be a demand for other raw materials.

The use of waste paper in conjunction with chemical wood pulp has increased to enormous proportions, and it is probable that the increase will continue. Although it is a cheaper raw material than wood, it is reasonable to suppose that as the wood supply decreases and the price of wood pulp advances, the price of waste paper will advance somewhat proportionately.

In view of these conditions it is advisable to investigate the paper making value of the more promising plant materials before a critical situation arises. To be of substantial value the investigations should include not only a determination of the quality and quantity of pulp and paper which the material is capable of producing, but should embrace a consideration of such relevant factors as agricultural conditions, farm practice, assembling conditions, transportation, and probable future supply.

Certain cultivated plants seem particularly promising, because in the harvesting of the regular crop that portion which might be utilized for paper manufacture necessarily is either wholly or partially assembled. To this class of plants belong corn, broom corn, sorghum, sugar cane, bagasse, flax, hemp, and the cereal straws.

. . .


Hemp hurds form a crop waste, in that they necessarily are produced in the raising and preparation of hemp fiber, and their present use and value are comparatively insignificant.

. . .

Without doubt, hemp will continue to be one of the staple agricultural crops of the United States. The wholesale destruction of the supply by fire, as frequently happens in the case of wood, is precluded by the very nature of the hemp-raising industry. Since only one year's growth can be harvested annually the supply is not endangered by the pernicious practice of overcropping, which has contributed so much to the present high and increasing cost of pulp wood. The permanency of the supply of hemp hurds thus seems assured.

. . .


As received from Pierceton, Ind., the hurds consisted of a mixture of tangled hemp bast fibers and pieces of broken wood of the hemp stalk. No reliable data were secured as to the proportion of bast fiber in the total shipment of 4 tons, although two hand separations of small representative samples gave results averaging 8 per cent. The chemical character of the material was such and the quantity was so small that any appreciable variation of the proportion should not affect materially the treating processes finally adopted, yet its presence in varying proportions undoubtedly would modify to some extent the quality of the resulting paper product. Since the length of the ultimate bast fiber averages about 22 mm. and the length of the ultimate hemp wood fiber averages 0.7 mm., it is natural to assume that the bast fiber would tend to increase the strength of paper produced from the hurds.

The broken pieces of wood contained in the hurds varied in length from mere particles which were somewhat finer than sawdust to pieces about 3 1/2 inches long, exceptional pieces being found which measured 6 inches in length. The majority of the long pieces were between 2 and 3 inches in length. In thickness the pieces ranged from one-eighth of an inch, in case they were derived from the base of the hemp stalks, to about one sixty-fourth of an inch in those pieces which were derived from the top and branches of the stalks. In cross section the pieces were found to be a quarter or half of the rounded rectangular woody shell of the stalk, although there appeared to be no regularity in this respect.

From the pulp-maker's standpoint the great irregularity in thickness, length, and mass of the woody pieces militates decidedly against economy in pulp production. The smaller pieces reduce by chemical treatment sooner than the larger fragments and are thereby overtreated, which results in a lower yield of cellulose fiber and a product composed of undertreated and overtreated fibers, the production and use of which are not satisfactory or economical. It probably would be found more satisfactory, therefore, to screen or sort the hurds and treat the various sizes separately and differently.

Associated with the hurds was a small quantity of chaff and dirt, composed chiefly of sand, soil, particles of hemp leaves and flowers, and other extraneous matter. The sand and soil were present because of the practice of placing the stalks in shocks in the field, the butts of the stalks being in contact with the soil. It is a simple matter, however, to remove the chaff and dirt by sieving, and this practice was followed in most of the paper tests conducted with this material.


Because of the similarity of hemp hurds to other materials which have been tested by the Office of Paper-Plant Investigations, semicommercial tests were conducted in cooperation with a paper manufacturer without preliminary laboratory tests. Laboratory pulp and paper tests are regarded only as a preliminary to semicommercial tests and therefore are not employed unless the material in question presents new features which should receive investigation before larger sized tests are undertaken.

. . .

In the tests described in this bulletin, the Department of Agriculture employed a rotary digester of its own design, comprising a shell 5 feet 5 inches in length by 4 feet in diameter, capable of holding about 300 pounds of air-dry hurds. It is believed that a test of this size is large enough to give satisfactory results and that the results are susceptible of commercial interpretation, while at the same time they are sufficiently small for complete control and to afford fiber-yield figures which are both accurate and reliable. Two such rotary charges gave enough fiber for one complete paper-making test.


A complete test on hurds comprises seven distinct operations,

Determination of yield,
Furnishing, and

. . .

The term "paper making" as used in this publication, means the operation of forming the finished sheet of paper from stock which has been furnished and prepared in the beater. In these tests a 30-inch Fourdrinier machine of regular construction was used, a machine which often is used for the production of paper for filling regular commercial orders. The machine is designed to cause the water suspension of fibers to flow on to a traveling wire cloth, whereby the water drains away. More water is removed by passing the wet sheet through a series of press rolls, after which the sheet is dried on steam-heated drums and passed through polished iron rolls, which impart a finish to the sheet. A Jordan refining machine was employed in conjunction with the machine to improve further the quality of the fiber, and a pulp screen was used in order to remove coarse and extraneous materials from the fiber.


. . .


In work of this nature and on this scale it is practically impossible to arrive at a cost figure which would be susceptible of commercial interpretation, and in this preliminary publication nothing will be attempted beyond a comparison of the process used with the hurds with that process commercially applied to poplar wood. The process last used with the hurds should not be regarded as final, satisfactory, or most suitable, as it has been shown that progress was being made up to the conclusion of the work.

. . .

In the preparation of the raw material for the digesters there is likewise considerable difference between hurds and poplar wood. The former apparently requires only a moderate sieving to remove sand and chaff, which operation doubtless would require only a small amount of labor and the installation of some simple machinery of low power consumption. In preparing poplar for digestion, the 4-foot logs are chipped by a heavy comparatively expensive chipper of high power consumption, after which the chips are sorted by sieving, the large pieces being rechipped. There would be a noteworthy difference in the installation, operating, and depreciation costs of the two equipments, and this difference would counterbalance to a considerable extent the difference in cost of raw material storage.

. . .

The weight of hurds which are capable of being charged into a rotary is a decidedly unfavorable factor. The weight of a cubic foot of hurds varies somewhat with the proportion of bast fiber, but averages about 5.4 pounds; which, compared with a cubic foot of poplar chips at 8.93 pounds, represents a digester charge of 60.5 per cent of the weight of a poplar-wood charge, or, in terms of fiber capacity, the hurds charge would yield 38.6 per cent as much fiber as the wood charge. The hurds upon being baled for transportation may be broken and crushed to such a degree that the weight of the charge may be increased, and it might be found possible to increase the charge weight by steaming or by the employment of tamping devices. This small weight of charge constitutes one of the most serious objections to the use of hurds in paper manufacture.

In those tests in which the most satisfactory results were obtained, the cooking conditions were 29.5 per cent of caustic soda at a concentration of 107 grams per liter and a causticity of 84.0 per cent acting at a temperature of 170 degrees C. for five hours, or a total time of seven hours.

. . .

The yield of total fiber obtained from the hurds may be placed at 35 per cent of bone-dry fiber calculated on the bone-dry weight of hurds used, or 33.1 per cent of air-dry fiber calculated on air-dry hurds. The yield of bleached fiber was not determined in this preliminary work, but may be safely estimated as 30 per cent, which is low when compared with a yield of about 47 per cent of bone-dry bleached fiber from bone-dry poplar wood. It is believed quite possible that satisfactory cooking conditions may be found which will give a higher yield than was obtained during these tests. The stock should be classed as easy leaching, and 11.4 per cent of bleach is a satisfactory figure, although a little high.

As to beating costs, in the last two and most satisfactory tests the total washing and beating time was three hours, which may be about an hour more than ordinarily is used in making papers of this grade, although the practice varies to a considerable extent.

In regard to furnish, there is such a diversity of practice that it is difficult to make a comparison, but if the hurd stock can be produced as cheaply as soda-poplar stock, the furnish used in these last two tests should be regarded as satisfactory to the book and printing paper manufacturer.

The finish of the paper was not all that might be desired, but that was due almost entirely to the calender stack available for the work, which was composed of nine light rolls, many of which were about 6 inches in diameter and which had not been reground for some time. From a small test on a large calender stack it was readily shown that the paper produced is capable of taking a satisfactory finish.

This comparison, satisfactory in many respects, develops two factors which are decidedly unfavorable to hemp hurds, namely, raw-material storage and digester capacity, and they must be taken into full account in considering the paper-making value of this material, although it should be recognized that investigation may result in the material improvement of these conditions. Moreover, it is not at all improbable that further investigation would develop more satisfactory treating conditions and more suitable furnish compositions, and the belief in this possibility is strengthened by the fact that material progress was being made at the conclusion of this preliminary work.

Calculations on the raw material and acreage for a permanent supply for a pulp mill producing 25 tons of fiber a day for 300 days per annum, or 7,500 tons per annum, give the comparison between hurds and wood.

The most important point derived from this calculation is in regard to areas required for a sustained supply, which are in the ration of 4 to 1. Every tract of 10,000 acres which is devoted to hemp raising year by year is equivalent to a sustained pulp-producing capacity of 40,500 acres of average pulp-wood lands. In other words, in order to secure additional raw material for the production of 25 tons of fiber per day there exists the possibility of utilizing the agricultural waste already produced on 10,000 acres of hemp lands instead of securing, holding, reforesting, and protecting 40,500 acres of pulp-wood land.

The annual growth per acre, although decidedly in favor of hurds, has little bearing on the project, because the utilization of the hurds is subordinate to the raising of hemp, and the paper manufacturer probably could afford to use only hurds resulting from the hemp industry.


Samples of paper produced in the seven tests were submitted to the Leather and Paper Laboratory of the Bureau of Chemistry. The report of that bureau on its tests is given in Table III.

. . .


There appears to be little doubt that under the present system of forest use and consumption the present supply can not withstand the demands placed upon it. By the time improved methods of forestry have established an equilibrium between production and consumption, the price of pulp wood may be such that a knowledge of other available raw materials may be imperative.

Semicommercial paper-making tests were conducted, therefore, on hemp hurds, in cooperation with a paper manufacturer. After several trials, under conditions of treatment and manufacture which are regarded as favorable in comparison with those used with pulp wood, paper was produced which received very favorable comment both from investigators and from the trade and which according to official tests would be classed as a No. 1 machine-finish printing paper.



. . .

Utilization of American Flax Straw in the Paper and Fiber-Board Industry. Department Bulletin 322.

. . .

Not open for further replies.
Top Bottom