Hemp fibre needed in World War II

In World War II, fibre was in great demand, so after outlawing hemp as marijuana in 1937, by 1942 the USA Department of Agriculture had made a call to patriotic farmers to grow hemp, with a 14 minute news reel “Hemp for Victory”

Hemptastic-YouTube-2016-1Hemp for Victory


In Germany they had the same issues regarding the demand for fibre and the Government encouraged Germans to grow the lustrous hanf (hemp) fibre, with a houmerous primer (pamphlet) which explained how to grow and process hemp. See the document here  GermanPrimer-PDF-72dpi


Share this page

Hemp world wide

The world wide industry was reignited in the 1990’s, the iHemp industry has been slowly gaining pace.  But this has recently been eclipsed by the medical markets.  

Traditional markets for the stems were in the specialty papers (Bible, currency and rolling papers) and horse bedding.  The seed was mainly used for bird seed.

But then the hippies got people interested in a vast range of other products and the potential is just starting to be realized.

The Worldwide market for iHemp products was up to a US$ billion last year and growing.  The US food and cosmetic industry was 640 million alone and has had double digit growth in the USA for the last 10 years and that is set to continue.

Some companies in various countries, mainly in Europe are making parts of the production chain to decorticate the stems.  They have been successful in combining the various processes into million dollar operations.   Which are being used to supply the growing demand for fibre (composites, especially in the automotive industry ) and hurd in the construction industry.

In 2011 the worldwide cultivation was around 85,000 ha, 60,000 ha for fibre and 25,000 ha for seed mainly in China and Europe (and Canada for seed)

Where the recreational markets have been allowed to develop huge $ are involved.  Just ask Colorado whose legal cannabis market turned over $US 750 Million in 2014, which increased to $996 Million in 2015, now there’s a billion dollar industry, providing a huge tax income which the state government has been set aside for specific projects.

Share this page

Leaf and roots


Leaf and roots for medicinal uses, juices, balms and tinctures.

Leafs fall to the ground during the growing cycle and return nutrients to the soil, they are collected in Europe as an animal food and have tremendous uses as a medicine and human food.

Roots rapidly grow, penetrating deep into the soil , preventing erosion and breaking up compacted soil.

The plant grows so rapidly that in well prepared soil it will out compete the weeds, so no herbicides are required if your soils are prepare correctly.

Share this page


c. Seed black and whiteHemp seed can be used as a super food/drink, a superior animal feed, as an oil in cosmetics, industrial lubricants, paint and varnish or as a fuel and lighting oil.  The seed is high in protein and has the highest level of total EFA 85%(essential fatty acids) in the plant kingdom with around 25% LNA Omega 3 and 55% LA Omega 6, and contains some Omega 9.  



Dehulling machine – China

In New Zealand the seed is a class C drug so you need a licence to possess iHemp seeds. This means that even though they come in a perfect container for storage and transport purposes.  Before the public can get them they need to be hulled.  By removing the husk they are no longer a seed and become a “hemp product – derived from iHemp.

Once the seed is cold pressed into oil, you have to keep it away from sources of heat, light and air  as they will deteriorate the nutritional quality over time.  The oil is a great additive to smoothies, a drizel on salads and as a supplement.  

hemp seeds can be made in to oil, protein powders and flour, to produce milk, ice creams, pastas, breads and can also be sprouted to make even more super foods.


Share this page

Hemptastic – hemp processor overview

The seeds, stems, roots and leaves grown on the farm need to be processed locally, as transporting bulk raw materials around is expensive.

The seed and material threshed off the stems during harvest, needs to be dried out to a moisture content of around 12 %, they can then be transported to a licenced seed cleaner to be dressed and stored until called for by a producer.

We have the infrastructure in New Zealand to do these steps, so the capacity is there and the industry can scale once demand is proven.

Stems require more processing as they are bulky to move, the closer the processing can be to the field the better.  The stems go through a process of decortication, which is where they are split between, primary and secondary bast fibres and the inner woody pith called hurd or shiv.

This decortication step can be achieved by hand, via a small two man machine or a production line can be used, the difference is the cost to set up.  The costs of these alternatives range from a few thousand to $2-$20 million. 

Please note in New Zealand seed and seed processing require a licence for the location being used.  Stems with out leaves do not require a licence.



Share this page

Hemptastic – growers and farmers

Hemp farmers must have a licence form the Ministry of Health.  Two licences are available General licence $511.11 and a Research and Breeding licence for an additional $153.33 including GST.

If you are considering growing you should go the to Ministry of Health website – Key word industrial hemp  

Your next step will be to source seeds, the NZHIA can put you in touch with seed sources www.nzhia.com

Growing economics, with the revenue streams form all the parts of the plant, there are significant returns for the farmer.  It is early days and the industry is only just starting to develop and create a demand, but in time good gross profits will be available to farmers and value added opportunities for regional New Zealand will create business and employment outcomes.

Growing for phytoremdiation, hemp can be grown in polluted soils and has shown to be effective at lifting heavy metals form the soil, cleaning the land for future productive use.  The long tap root and extensive root system breaks up and aerates compacted soils as it searches for the water table penetrating up to a meter deep.


Share this page

Hemp in History

Wars have been fought for hemp, the fibre being needed for uniforms, rope/cordage and for the fleets of sailing ships, both merchant and naval vessels.

Canvas sails (canvas is the dutch pronunciation of the Greek word “Kannabis”  – K means cane and B means two, two reeds or two sexes) rigging, anchor ropes, cargo and fishing nets, flags, shrouds and oakum (caulking as a waterproof sealant) an average ship in the 16-19 century used 50-100 tonnes of hemp rigging plus the sails etc. Much of which had to be replaced every year or two, due to salt root.

The fibre was also used to produce the paper, maps, logs and bibles used on board.

The Napoleonic/Russian war 1812 was fought over hemp (Napoleon wanted to stop Rusia from providing hemp fibre to the British navy), and after outlawing hemp as marijuana in 1937 in the USA, they had to back track during world war two when fibre was required for the war effort.

With the hysteria created by “refer madness” in the first half of the 20th century, the US Government banned cannabis with the US Marijuana Tax Act, 1937.

The United Nations have also got controls in place for cannabis.  Under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961

In New Zealand hemp was banned by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

In 1945 the US Government produced the “Hemp For Victory” News Reel (Hemp for Victory) asking all patriotic Americans to grow hemp, at the same time Germany produced a primer (a newspaper) promoting the same information GermanPrimer-PDF-72dpi

Some countries have not interupted their industries but world wide the tendancey was to ban hemp.  In New Zealand there was a moratorium on even talking about cannabis, right up to the end of the 1990’s

In 1998 the NZHIA and other interested people and business were working hard on bring down this prohibition on even talking about hemp, once this was overcome the Government allowed trials to be conducted.

The trials went from 2000 to  2005 and resulted in the Misuse of Drugs Act – Industrial Hemp Regulations, 2006.  The regulations have allowed industrial hemp to be grown under licencee and be used to derive hemp products.

By law in New Zealand, only industrial can be used to make hemp products.

The decortication step, splitting the stems in to fibre 20% and hurd 80% was mechanized in the early 20th Century.  This was a critical development, which would have done what the “cotton gin” did for the cotton industry.  The mechanised approach would make the extraction of the fibre and hurd economic.

Unfortunately by 1937 when this machine was highlighted in the “Popular Mechanics article – The New Billion Dollar Crop”, the Marijuana tax act was in place effectively stopping the hemp industry in America.  In the same year DuPont patented Nylon (synthetic fibre) and the high sulfur processing technique to pulp wood products for paper, so these industries developed in the space left behind when hemp fibre and hurd/shiv were no longer available.

Interestingly the prohibition on cannabis meant that not a lot of work was done on developing the cultivation, processing and production of hemp.  We need to bring these activities into the 21st Century and New Zealand’s “kiwi ingenuity” approach means we can develop the IP associated with better processing and production techniques.

New Zealand can profit from growing and exporting hemp products and there is also licencing opportunities and export sale of machines available if we can develop efficient grow, harvest, processing and production techniques.


Share this page

What is hemp?

Hemp is Cannabis, so both industrial hemp (iHemp) and marijuana are from the same family, just different varieties. 

In New Zealand cannabis is illegal, except iHemp which can be grown legally if you have a current licence issued by Ministry of Health.  

iHemp is hemp with a THC content less than 0.35%.  Nearly all countries in the world allow industrial hemp and a growing number of countries allow medicinal cannabis and recreational cannabis with higher THC contents.

Hemptastic New Zealand - Hemp

Hemp is a herbaceous annual plant that produces a nut and is related to hops, it produces leaf, roots, seed and the stems are split into fibre and hurd/shiv.

Click to enlarge

It can grow to maturity in 90-120 days and produces a seed, fibre or dual (both) crop.  It requires little if any pesticides, fungicides and herbicides and can actually clean and condition the soil.

The hemp plant is Cannabis Sativa, belonging to the family Cannabaceae of the nettle order (Urticales) 

There are many varieties depending on use and are mainly dioecious (distinct male and female plants) but can be monoecious (male and female on the same plant) 

Share this page

Why hemp?

Hemp produces high quality seed and the strongest most durable, longest lasting natural soft-fiber in the world.  

The high yielding annual crop can be used for a diverse range of end uses, in the food, construction, fuel & oil, plastic & composite, paper, textile and medical industries.

It can be grown sustainable and the carbohydrates can replace hydrocarbons as an industry feed stock.

Hemp fibre is UV resistant, anti-fungerial , anti-bacterial, ant- static and anti-microbial, the seeds are super food and useful industrial oil

For farmers is is great in rotation and requires less agricultural inputs than other crops and can compliment other natural fibre, flax , kenaf and pine and wool.

It can phytoremediate soils, cleaning polluted lands and conditioning compacted soils.

Significant quantities can be grown in a short  90-140 day growing season and it is the worlds premier, renewable natural resource.

A true good news story, good for industry good for business and good for the environment.



Share this page

Growing iHemp

Hemp grows in 90-140 days depending on the end use, For fibre the harvest date is earlier as you do not want the seed to develop, requires minimal if any agri chemicals 

Pollen drift from low THC industrial hemp crops will reduce the potency of any marijunna growing in the area and pollen can drift across the Mediterranean. By growing iHemp we are helping the police control illicit outdoor cannabis crops.

Seed crops are harvested once seed has set which takes a little longer, (harvested in March and April)  recreational and medicinal crops are harvested before seed set and any male plants need to be controlled.

It grows best in well prepared lose soils and does not like wet feet.

Ideal in rotation, hemp is planted October/November and left in the ground until February/march depending on your latitude within in New Zealand.

Irrigation tends to improve yield, but as long as it gets sufficient water at the right times, it can survive on minimal water.

Minimal pest problems have been noticed in New Zealand and the crop requires little if any pesticides, fungicides or herbicides

Please note in New Zealand you need a licence to grow industrial hemp, liceneces are obtained from Medicines Control, Ministry of Health 

Share this page