Hemp Harvest Rolls to a Close Amid Less Than Average Yields In Several Regions

Suzanne Cosgrove

Suzanne Cosgrove

Editor

–Texas regulators take a startling turn against delta-8

At first glance, the October PanXchange Hemp: Benchmark & Analysis report looks like more of the same when compared with September’s, but a closer look shows several issues have intensified: price pressures in the hemp biomass sector from newly harvested supply, the continued controversy over (and demand for) for delta-8 and the use of hemp in animal feed.

Mid-point prices for hemp seed — both conventional seed and the organic variety — remained higher, as did prices for CBD smokable flower and hemp hurd, with the later two sectors unchanged from September levels.

Looking at spot prices for biomass, PanXchange pointed out that higher prices for certain categories of CBD “withered away as harvest progressed.” The need for quality product ahead of the harvest should be satiated now that it’s rolling in, the report said. But with demand for delta-8 removing supply for at least the past year, it predicted prices are likely to pick up again in the 2021/2022 crop year.

The exchange reported that yields were mixed as the end of the harvest season approached.

“Overall, most growers grew when they could contract and didn’t risk any additional effort,” PanXchange said. Last year’s lower prices failed to motivate growers to maximize production, and the result was less-than-average yields for many outdoor growers, including in the Pacific Northwest and Kentucky, regions that suffered from poor weather conditions during the growing season. Eastern Colorado was an exception, reporting better-than-expected yields.

Hemp hurd was the most active industrial hemp derivatives market, the report said. The exchange expects that trend to continue as grain and its derivatives trade into food industry channels — although for now, it still is a nascent market, primarily aimed at pet treats or equine supplements used for pain management and managing muscle stiffness.

Given current high prices for feed grain — and in the grain markets generally — amid tight global supplies and strong export demand. Industry groups are eagerly awaiting definitive federal guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration on the use of hemp byproducts as a food additive. As reported last month, the American Association of Feed Control Officials recently issued a “call to action” urging the FDA and other regulators to take up the issue.  

Meanwhile, delta-8 again took a turn in the spotlight in October when the Texas Department of State Health Services returned delta-8 and other synthetic cannabinoids it to its published list of controlled substances on October 15, a category that The Texas Tribune and other publications have pointed out is usually reserved for drugs that have no accepted medical use, such as heroin.

The Texas Tribune reported that the Texas regulator’s move, which was casually posted on its website, apparently caught local CBD retailers by surprise. Some challenged it. A subsequent request for a temporary restraining order on the agency listing filed by a distributor, Hometown Hero, and a CBD marketer, Sky Marketing Corp., was denied by a state district court judge in Austin. An additional hearing is scheduled for November 5.

Delta-8-THC gained popularity after the 2018 Farm Bill changed the definition of lawful marijuana extracts’ to include products with lower than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC is the ingredient that causes a high), including delta-8. Delta-8 is synthesized from cannabidiol (CBD), which is extracted from hemp and often is used to coat smokable hemp flowers.

PanXchange noted that demand for delta-8 has played a big role in helping the broader hemp market work down oversupply this year. The immediate impact of Texas’ action — effectively a ban on delta-8 products in the state — is uncertain, PanXchange said. However, manufacturers of isolate, the pure form of CBD that typically contains low amounts of THC, will undoubtedly feel its impact, they said.

And while the FDA has stalled on taking action on hemp for animal feed, it did make a somewhat related announcement in October, unveiling an ambitious plan to collect CDP information. The “Cannabis Derived Products Data Acceleration Plan” was designed to “identify new ways of detecting safety signals and accelerating appropriate research studies, including but not limited to rigorous toxicology studies,” the regulator said.

PanXchange called the FDA plan a “good first step” toward the goal of ensuring the consumer safety of cannabis-derived products. It added that “unfortunately CBD is caught in the crossfire, but hopefully will be spared any major reputational damage.” 

 

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