1. What are some of the latest advancements in hemp breeding that you’re excited about?
The first is the rise of uniform crops. Farmers are demanding uniformity, and if the variety you are releasing has more than one phenotype, that’s not going to work anymore.
The second is the discovery and increased production of varieties that produce minor cannabinoids, which is allowing us to get a window into their benefits. These minor cannabinoids can also protect farmers from compliance risks. While CBD production has a positive correlation with THC (i.e., the more CBD in the plant, the more THC), other minor cannabinoids like CBG do not.
I think the next big push will come from varins, which are cannabinoids that contain a propyl chain instead of a pentyl one. They possess unknown effects, but there is great promise.
2. What traits are desirable in hemp varieties right now?
The biggest issues on farmer’s minds are compliance and scalability. Not all genetics are created equal, and ensuring your varieties contain the most efficient enzymes (like the right balance of CBDA) is paramount. Early maturing varieties are also critical to escape the potential foul weather of fall in the U.S. and allow farmers to concentrate on other crops they grow.
Scalability is also a serious issue. Clones take longer than seed to plant and simply aren’t scalable, whether they’re from tissue culture or traditional clones. Uniformity in your seed variety ensures scalability and mechanical harvest. Due to the prices farmers are getting for their crop, it typically isn’t feasible or cost-effective to hand-harvest.
3. What is Arcadia’s GoodHemp line of genetics and how was it developed?
GoodHemp was born out of a desire to fill market needs where everyone benefits. We really want to see the farmer succeed, as that will drive our success. In 2020, we purchased the company Industrial Seed Innovations, which already had an impressive array of genetics, and we are matching these established varieties with material coming out of our pipeline bred from our extensive library. A large number of breeding styles can lead to successful products; we employ a diverse array of these and target them to produce a successful, desirable product.
4. How are Arcadia’s hemp varieties tested before they’re commercialized?
The most important aspect of a breeding program is testing strategy. At Arcadia, we are testing potential products at every stage of the breeding process. Once we have good candidates that were proven on our farm, we start moving those lines to larger testing and observation. If we like what we see and they survive our advancement process, we move to national testing of the candidate new varieties.
5. What do you see as the future of hemp genetics?
I think there is tremendous potential in fiber and grain and potentially dual crops. We don’t have the infrastructure yet to deal with those products in the U.S., but that is changing. Hemp grain is an excellent source of healthy oils and protein, while hemp fiber is a very efficient source of industrial fiber.