UH Reports Hawaii Hemp is Top Shelf

Hawaii’s Industrial Hemp Project Proves Huge Success!

News Release from Office of Rep Cynthia Thielen, January 7, 2016

Honolulu – Hawaii’s Industrial Hemp Research Project exceeded expectations in not only the quantity, but the quality of industrial hemp produced according to a report just released from the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTHAR). The research was conducted in Waimanalo on the island of Oahu from July 20, 2014 through December 3, 2015.

The project, which was initiated by Act 56 and spearheaded by Principal Investigator Harry Ako, PhD, was a feasibility study on the growth and use of industrial hemp in Hawai‘i.  Using a subtropical cultivar from Australia, Dr. Ako discovered that three crops a year could be grown in our State, yielding between 27 to 38 tons dry weight stalks per year depending on densities planted. Stalks from fiber hemp plants can be used to produce a variety of everyday products, including building materials (hempcrete), clothing, paper, rope, and even automobile parts.

“The research also found that subtropical hemp yielded significant amounts of leaves that could be used as forage for cattle.  This would be extremely beneficial to local ranchers who currently must  send Hawaii’s “grass fed” cattle to the mainland for finishing,” said long time industrial hemp proponent Rep. Cynthia Thielen (Kailua-Kaneohe Bay), noting that she is drafting legislation which would expand the number of industrial hemp crop sites in order to provide nutritional, local animal feed to farmers and ranchers.

Seed hemp, which is used in a variety of foods, oils, health and cosmetic products, also flourished at the Waimanalo project and offers a promising future for industrial hemp production. Two seed crops a year, with a yield of about 2.5 tons of seed per acre per year, could be grown in our State based on Dr. Ako’s research results. In Canada, the most lucrative aspect of industrial hemp production has proven to be seed production.

According to the report, the hemp plants were grown without herbicides, and are “self-weeding”.  Additionally, insecticides were not used, hemp plants did not need to be fertilized, and adult plants needed very little water.

Investigators also conducted cursory hempcrete studies which proved that hempcrete could be made in Hawai‘i without special chemicals or knowledge using hemp stalks and lime.  Hempcrete is a durable and recyclable building product which is termite proof and has an extremely high thermal (fire proof) resistance.

“This truly is an amazing plant and fabulous new crop for Hawai’i, said Rep. Thielen, adding, “Where do you find a plant with over 45,000 different uses which requires minimum resources and is environmentally friendly? The results from this research project are revolutionary for Hawaii’s agricultural industry.  We are all thrilled about the potential this simple plant has for our State’s future, especially with the announcement yesterday that HC&S would no longer be growing sugar cane.”

Research project participants included Principal Investigator Harry Ako, PhD, Team members Qing Li, Melody Heidel, Alan Yoshimoto, Masahiro Yoshioka, and Jennifer Bright.  A complete copy of the research report can be found at http://www.hawaii.edu/offices/eaur/govrel/reports/2016/act56-slh2014_2016_industrial-hemp_report.pdf