Cannabidiol (CBD) in FINOLA 28 June 2019
CBD is a natural polyphenol that is produced by hemp. During the last five years, we have received an ever increasing number of requests for information on the amount of CBD produced by the FINOLA variety of hemp. There are a lot of variables to consider, and there are no easy answers that will be correct for every situation.
As CBD becomes a larger topic for discussion, we feel that it would be irresponsible for us to remain silent on this issue. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to fully discuss these complex issues with everyone. We hope this information will be of value to you.
FINOLA produces a lot of CBD
For more that a decade, FINOLA and other European hemp varieties have been used for the commercial production of cannabidiol (CBD) in Europe. These extracts were used to launch the initial marketing of CBD in the US, well before the first farm bill passed in 2014. Since US hemp production was not very well developed until a few years after 2014, US hemp market still rely on CBD extracts from Europe.
FINOLA continues to be an excellent industrial source of CBD for these reasons; it is short, autofowering and easy to managed by hand or with machines, it matures in less 100 days in most locations and it produces a huge bud that contains low THC (<0.2%) and a lot of CBD.
But what is “a lot of CBD”?
This is a very simple and reasonable question to ask, but context is important, and many variables will significantly influence the final result.
– The cultivation environment; indoors or outdoors?
– Lighting and temperature; natural light or artificial- halogen or LED?
– Atmosphere; natural air (outside) or supplemented with carbon dioxide (inside)?
– Male vs. female plants; are both analysed together (field), or just females (garden)?
– Pollination; are the female plants allowed to produce seed, or not?
– Time of sampling/harvest; the time of sampling has a huge impact on the final result!
– The actual sample; exactly what part of the plant is sampled for the analysis?
– Processing method; is the plant to be extracted, or not. If so, how is it extracted?
– What is the efficiency of the extraction method?
– Laboratory competence- is the lab reliable for this type of analysis?
– Analytical methodology- LC or GC, and what type of detection method?
Lengthy discussions can arise from each of these variables, and still not provide a satisfactory answer. At best, we can only share some of our own data in general terms.
Experience over time
Since the early 1990s, we have collected a lot of analytical data on the amounts of cannabinoids and other phytochemicals that are produced by FINOLA and other hemp varieties. From this data, we can make some general statements that may be helpful to you:
Production from industrial scale field conditions
For an open pollinated hemp crop, the top third of the plants can be harvested with a standard grain combine to recover the hempseed and the green vegetative material. The vegetative material will include the leaves, flowers, bits of stem, etc. This must be separated from the hempseed at the time of harvest or just after harvest. In any case, you must begin to dry the harvested materials within a few hours after harvest, to avoid the certainty of a mould problem.
In 2018, we organised a broad survey of field samples from six industrial scale FINOLA farmers in Finland. All samples were collected at the same time as the grain harvest. The amount of CBD in the dried vegetative material ranged from 0.67% to 7.35% CBD, with an average value of 2.19% CBD.
Production from smaller scale row crop or garden scale conditions
If stems and large leaves are not included in the analysed sample, and only the apical tips of the mature, seedless female FINOLA flower are analysed, then the amount of CBD can exceed 15%.
Time of sampling
The phytochemical composition is always changing throughout a hemp plant’s life. For industrial scale production, with male and female plants, it only makes sense to link the vegetative harvest time with the grain harvest. This takes a lot of planning and coordination, and we do not have any more to say about that at this time. You have to figure this out for your own circumstance. For the row crop or garden scale production of mature, seedless female flowers, the grower is advised to observe the trichome density on the leaves to determine the optimal time of harvest. Again, you have to figure this out for your own situation.
The sample for analysis
It should be obvious that a sample of bulk vegetative material from a dioecious field crop will have less CBD than a carefully manicured female flower without seed. These are completely different samples, produced under completely different growing conditions. Again, it is important to understand the context of the sample, in order to understand the true value of the analytical data.
The method of analysis
There is no real benefit in measuring CBD and CBDA separately in a fresh hemp sample, since almost all of the CBD will exist as CBDA. For this reason and other good reasons, gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GC-FID) is the most reliable analytical tool for the analysis of total CBD (or THC) in a hemp sample. One reason why GC-FID is more reliable is because the total CBD is analysed only once. With liquid chromatographic methods, such as HPLC, CBD and CBDA must be measured separately and then added together to determine the total amount of CBD. When CBD and CBDA are quantitated separately, more possibilities for analytical errors occur than if the analysis was calculated only once for total CBD with GC-FID.
If the goal is to know the precise and total value of CBD or THC in a hemp sample, then GC-FID is the most reliable analytical methodology.
However, LC methods of analysis are more useful in measuring the amount of cannabinoids in hemp-derived food products, because CBDA and THCA are not orally active, and it is important for the consumer to know how much “free” CBD and THC are in an edible product.
The total amount of CBD in FINOLA can range between 1-15%.
For carefully tended female flowers without seed, the amount of CBD is typically between 5-10%, and may even exceed 15% in some apical samples.
For industrial scale production, a dioecious field crop of FINOLA will typically have about 2-3% CBD in the dried vegetative material, and may exceed 5% in some circumstances. These results are highly dependent on the method of cultivation, the time of harvest, the type of sample that is being analyzed, and the method of analysis.
On average, in the industrial example, FINOLA can reasonably produce 1000 to 2000 kg of dried vegetative material from one hectare. With a modest recovery efficiency of 50% from vegetative material that contains 2% CBD, one could expect to achieve 10 to 20 kg of CBD per hectare in the extracted material.