Cultivation

A more responsible model

Placing itself at the heart of the environmental stakes, our interprofessional organisation works hard to put a spotlight on hemp’s many virtues. Here we take you on a small tour of these assets:

 

Ecology

  • A sponge to nitrates and heavy metals, hemp has been planted on the bank of the Seine in Paris to help clean it up before the upcoming Olympic Games.
  • 1 hectare of hemp crop stores as much CO2 as 1 hectare of forest: 15 tons.
  • 1 sq m of hemp-based concrete wall packs in 35kg of equivalent CO2 over the next 100 years.
  • 4. Cars designed with bio-sourced materials (door felts and/or dashboards made of hemp composite) benefit from a lighter weight. Part weight savings of 20% exhibiting unchanged technical performance means reducing CO2 emissions by 25g/100km and petrol consumption by 1cl/100km.

 

Agronomy

  • Hemp is ideal for crop rotation, with roots that can go down to a depth of 3m, adding structure to the soil. It also fertilises the next crop thanks to its biomass, mainly due to the leaves.
  • Hemp requires neither herbicide, fungicide or insecticide.
  • Hemp breaks the build-up of pathogens and weeds inherent to other crop cultivations.
  • It requires only a moderate amount of nitrogen and can be easily implemented in organic farming.
  • Thanks to the height and density of the crop, hemp can be a boon to biodiversity, attracting spiders and beetles, which are natural pest predators.

 

Eco-responsible

  • As an industry that still allows for personal interaction with clients, with local ‘Made in France’ production for markets close to home, the sustainability impact of hemp is optimally minimised.
  • Industry stakeholders make sure they comply with European legislation.
  • As an annual cultivar, hemp is an adjustable and renewable resource.
  • From harvest to industrial processing, the entire production chain uses mechanical means, without any need for chemical treatment or processing.
  • The industry is self-sufficient, with long-term contracts with producers to ensure production capacity meets demand.

 

 
 

Hemp across the world

With world production of over 100,000 hectares in 2016, surface areas of cultivation have grown steadily since 2012. France remains the leader of the European market with more than half of the 33,000 hectares.

Hemp in France by numbers

In 2017, 16,400 hectares of hemp were harvested in France, of which 1,735 were used for seed production. 1,414 farmers plant it with average yields of 1 ton of hempseed and 7 tons of straw per hectare. Seeds – making up 11% of harvested volume – and straw – making up 89% of harvested volume – represent 21% and 79% respectively of the economic value of the harvest.

 

Nombre d'hectares cultivés sur l'année sélectionnée

 
0
 
996.2
 
1992.4
 
2988.6
 
3984.8
 
4981

Hemp-based products

Some hail hemp as the solution to a coming crisis (Alexis Chanebau, in his book says “Hemp, from a dream to 1000 uses”). What we can be certain of, is that this plant, from its Neolithic origins to the present day, continues to play a role in human lives. More than 600 derived products have been patented around the world, with more than half in China. France is also innovating with patents, such as with prefabricated hemp concrete to make it easier to use in construction.

The economic and social importance of the industry

With 1,538 jobs spread between variety selection and the first stage of processing, and 16,400 hectares cultivated in France in 2017, the industry remains a small one. However, the dynamism of industry players and the innovation at a product level puts hemp ahead of other crops in its ability to respond to society’s environmental expectations. A sixth hemp processor (GatiChanvre) opened on the 29th September 2017 with Jacques Mézard, the Minister of Territories Cohesion, present at the opening. More than 1000 people have already been trained in hemp-based eco-construction. The first building completed for the tertiary sector meeting all environmental standards was unveiled in Noyal sur Vilaine on the 13th October 2017. Next spring, an exhibition showcasing hemp-based construction will open in Paris thanks to the order of architects. Passionate industry players are making the news with their dynamism once more.

 

Sow and forget until harvest

 

Cultivated every year mostly in the northern half of France, it isn’t your typical crop. Since it doesn’t need any fungicide, insecticide or herbicide treatments, all that’s required from the farmer is to sow and harvest. A spring crop, it’s sown from April to May and harvested from late august to October. It needs water and food (fertiliser) to reach a height of 3.5m. Harvesting requires some specialised equipment and more time than usual for most crops, due to the fragility of the seed and the straw going through various handling stages before processing. Depending on the variety as well as what it will be used for, crop management and harvesting processes can vary.

For benefits in agronomy, please see the agronomy page.

For more information: http://www.terresinovia.fr/publications/guides-de-culture/guide-de-culture-chanvre-2017/

 

A closely regulated crop

 

The Cannabis Sativa L. species is distinguished from its cousin species Cannabis Indica, which is prohibited in France, due to its levels of THC (Δ9 – tétrahydrocannabinol). Hemp is bound by French and European legislation (which were harmonised in 2004), with authorisation granted in the EU only to varieties containing less than 0.2% THC. It is therefore mandatory for seeds to be certified and registered with the relevant (European) databases. Each seed bag is labelled by the SOC (Official Service for Control and Certification of Seeds and Plants). Every August, levels of THC are inspected on 30% of cultivated areas via samples which are then laboratory tested.