Book Reviews

Parasite Damage and Diseases of Hemp

Parasitäre Krankheiten und
Schädlinge an Hanf
(Cannabis sativa L.)

Gutberlet, V. and Karus, M. 1995.  Parasitäre Krankheiten und Schädlinge an Hanf (Cannabis sativa L).  Univ. Köln, Germany.  Institut für politische und ökologische Innovation Köln.  57 pp. + 24 figures.

          A major uncertainty in the introduction of a new crop on a wide scale is the unavoidable arousal of pests and diseases.  Although literature surveys cannot predict diseases, they assist one in being aware of potential problems.  Gutberlet & Karus report, in the German language, on the pests and diseases of hemp described in the literature.  A number of disease and pest species are treated: viruses (4), bacteria (2), fungi (16), nematodes (2), insects (20), birds (9), mammals (4), plant parasitic plants (2) and weeds (3).  Each organism is followed by a short synonymy and a description, followed by some recommendations for control.
          The descriptions are concise and
apparently meant for those who are not educated in plant pathology.  However, these descriptions and some of the plates of pest and disease organisms are insufficient for identification.  The control measures described include a confusing mixture of present and potential (e.g., biological management) methods.
          The literature survey contains only part
of the information available on hemp diseases, and the criteria upon which they based their selections are not clear.  Much of the older literature is lacking, such as the publications of Ghillini, from 1951 and 1954, which described a number of fungal and bacterial diseases on hemp in Italy.  Some of the more recent literature is not mentioned, for instance that of McPartland, who published on hemp diseases in 1983 and 1984, including the description of Phomopsis ganjae, a new species.  Several potentially important diseases are left unmentioned.  For instance, Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cannabis first described by Noviello & Snyder in 1962, may cause persistent problems in the cultivation of hemp.  On the other hand, the book's rather extensive elaboration of some birds and mammals is not justified by the damage they may cause.
          If hemp is to be grown on a large scale,
it is evident that some economically important pests and diseases will appear.  Much of the literature is old and does not give a reliable picture of the severity of hemp pests and diseases and the yield losses they caused.  This does not mean that we should become discouraged by the organisms listed by Gutberlet & Karus, but rather should regard this publication as a reminder of potential problems we may encounter in the future.

Dr. A.J. Termorshuizen
Department of Phytopathology
P.O. Box 8025
6700 EE Wageningen
The Netherlands

Hemp for Textiles

Sue Riddlestone August 1995 Hemp for Textiles Bioregional Development Group, Sutton Ecology Centre, Honeywood Walk, Carshalton, Surrey, SM5 3NX.

          "Hemp for textiles" concerns a fiber hemp cultivation experiment in Southeast England by the Bioregional Development Group in 1994.  This was the first trial in England this century, in which hemp was cultivated for textiles in the UK and processed through the existing flax infrastructure.  Key considerations in the groups vision are: environment, sustainability and local production for local needs.  The goals of the experiment were to trial four fiber hemp varieties, produce hemp yarn and fabric, find the best way to establish a feasible UK hemp textile industry and make the results available to interested parties.
          The first section of the report deals with
the history of hemp: its botany, traditional growing, harvesting, dew or water retting, fiber potential and preparation, fiber quality, and spinning and weaving.  The current situation on "hemp for textiles" in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and China is reviewed in detail, as well as the benefits that the cultivation of hemp has for the individual farmer and environment, and the criteria hemp must satisfy to be marketed successfully.
          Section Two details the results of the
experiment.  Fiber quality and yield of four fiber hemp strains (Kompolti, Uniko B F2, Fibrimon 56 and Felina 34) were compared.  Extraction of textile grade fibers was done by three methods; by traditonal hand processing, through flax scutching machinery, and through the novel UK-developed Fibrelin machine.  Then the quality of the hemp yarn produced by these methods was compared.
          The experiments made clear that hemp
has remarkable weed suppressing properties and evident pest resistance.  The French varieties could be harvested 2 to 3 weeks before the Hungarian ones (favourable for dew retting), whereas the Hungarian varieties had a 1.5 to 2 times greater biomass than the French varieties after retting, which resulted in a higher fiber yield for the latter.  Fields were harvested when the male flowers were shedding pollen.  Useful information is given on retting and the stem thickness/fiber content ratio.  Improvement of fiber quality and/or quantity were achieved by: processing hemp 5 months after harvesting, boiling hemp fiber with caustic soda, bleaching with hydrogen peroxide, and softening the yarn.  The best quality fiber was produced from the traditionally processed hemp.  Flax-machinery- processed, wet-spun fiber resulted in a yarn of 10.8 Nm, whereas the finest yarn produced by the Fibriline machine was 7 Nm (wet-spun) and 3.5 Nm (dry-spun).  Conservative potential yields were calculated: 5 tons hemp stalks/hectare = 750 kg fiber = 490 kg sliver = 360 kg boiled and bleached yarn = 900 m 2 of 400 gr/m2 jeans fabric = 600 running metres x 150 cm wide.  Hemp hurds for papermaking, composite board and animal litter production were determined useable as a co-product.
          Section Three reports the conclusions
and gives recommendations.  In the short term, it was concluded possible to establish hemp textile production in Southeast England, working with early-maturing varieties, dew retting, adapted harvesting equipment, newly develloped turning equipment and a specially built hemp scutching mill.  The resulting fiber can be spun and woven by the linen industry.  In the long run more reliable retting methods have to be developed, as well as further development of the Fibrelin machine, and adaption of spinning preparation and spinning machinery to achieve cost effective results.
          I would recommend Hemp for Textiles
to anyone who desires a basic knowledge of hemp cultivation and processing for textile production, especially those considering hemp cultivation in northern Europe.

Henk van Dalen of Green Lands and the Dutch Fiber Hemp Foundation.

Scythian Cannabis Verification Project

          The IHA visited St. Petersburg in April to confer with the staff at the Vavilov Research Institute and plan the Cannabis Germplasm Preservation Project reproductions for 1995.  The VIR also had arranged for us to visit the Hermitage Museum and see some of the Cannabis remains recovered from the famous frozen Scythian tombs of Pazyryk Kurgan in Siberia.  Dr. Elena Mikolaichuk of the Hermitage Museum Analytical Laboratory showed us some of the Cannabis seeds found inside of a 2,400 year old leather pouch associated with ritual censers.  The seeds are quite small, mottled in appearance, with a pronounced abscission layer at the base.  These three characteristics indicate that the seeds were most likely collected from the wild rather than cultivated.  This finding is in keeping with the characterization of the Scythians as nomadic hunter/ gatherers rather than settled farmers.
          Along with the pouch of Cannabis seeds were found two small metal censers and two sets of sticks used as legs to support a tent of hides enclosing each censer.  According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, the Scythians would climb inside of such a tent like structure and burn Cannabis flowers by placing them on top of hot rocks held in a metal censer.  Herodotus reports that the Scythians "breathed the vapors and howled with joy".  Although the sticks found inside of the Pazyryk Kurgan are only about a meter tall and far too small to crawl inside of, they may be funerary models of the larger devices described by Herodotus and were only constructed to be placed inside of the tomb as burial offerings rather than to actually be used.  However, the discovery of the censers and sticks in association with the pouch of Cannabis seeds is considered by many to be the earliest example of breathing the fumes of burning Cannabis to achieve a psychotropic effect.
          Since Cannabis seeds themselves do not contain any psychoactive compounds, the seeds recovered from the leather pouch were unburned, and no other plant material was recovered from the pouch, more concrete evidence is sought for the hypothesis that the censers were used for burning Cannabis flowers for the purpose of becoming "high".  One solution may be to analyze deposits on the surface of the rocks from the censer for the presence of delta-8-THC.  (delta-8-THC is a very stable molecule found only in trace amounts in fresh drug Cannabis, but it also forms in measurable amounts via the slow conversion of delta-9-THC.) Detection of its presence would provide strong evidence that the censers were used to burn psychoactive Cannabis.  The Hermitage Museum has given us permission to borrow the rocks and perform analyses with them if we can find a reputable laboratory to perform the analyses.
          Many leather and hide garments and felted wool textiles were also recovered from the frozen Scythian tombs.  Although there is no evidence of weaving, such as the presence of loom models or spindle whorls, a nearly intact woven textile shirt and several small textile scraps were recovered.  These may have been traded from China or Persia.  The cloth is woven from fine yarn and could likely be either hemp or flax.  The Hermitage Museum has supplied the IHA with small textile fragments from the shirt and other textile scraps for analysis to determine what fibers they contain.  Perhaps a non invasive analysis such as scanning electron microscopy could be used to determine the fine structure of the fiber elements and identify their origin.
          The Hermitage Museum has provided the Cannabis research community with a fascinating opportunity to unravel the ancient mysteries of the association of the Scythians with Cannabis.  The IHA is searching for experienced researchers who are interested in attempting differing analytical methods in an effort to find positive proof for the use of Cannabis for either its consciousness-altering properties or its textile fiber by the ancient Scythians.  If you have any ideas please feel free to contact Robert C. Clarke at the IHA.  Any leads and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.  -RCC

Minnesota Meeting

          While the nascent North American hemp industry has made significant progress in the last several years, it is still perceived by mainstream society as somewhat of a counterculture anomaly.  Thus, the meeting sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 19 and 20, 1995, was a positive step toward commercializing the industry and moving it into the mainstream.
          Representatives of government, industry, agriculture, academia, and environmental groups met with hemp entrepreneurs to discuss the crop's commercial potential, agricultural characteristics, and political hurdles.  Many of the participants, who earlier in the year had attended the Bioresource Hemp Conference in Frankfurt, Germany, were excited about hemp's future.  They mentioned having been frustrated by the slow progress of efforts to commercialize hemp farming in Canada and the United States.
          The participation of International Paper, the world's largest pulp and paper firm, and of Inland Container, a Fortune 500 company, along with that of individuals such as Jim Hangley, a textile executive formerly with Cotton Inc., Gordon Reichert of Agri-Food Canada, David Morris of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and Jeffrey Gain, former Executive Director of the National Corn Growers Association, prove that the hemp industry is developing a powerful coalition.  According to Curt Koster of International Paper, "We're not married to wood pulp.  We're very interested in the role hemp or other natural fibers can play in meeting our growing fiber needs."
          The meeting's last session, titled "Strategies for Future Action", resulted in the election of a steering committee charged with developing bylaws and a mission statement by March 15, 1996.  The working name for the group is The Industrial Hemp Council, and the current mission statement is as follows:
          We, as concerned individuals, hereby create the Industrial Hemp Council, whose mission is to promote the sustainable cultivation and commercialization of the industrial hemp in North America.
          For further information, contact Bud Sholts of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Phone (608) 224-5135, Fax (608) 224-5110, or email at <>  Readers can also visit the HEMPTECH Internet site at <> or use email for news of upcoming developments regarding the Industrial Hemp Council.

Written by John W. Roulac, President of HEMPTECH, P.O. Box 820, Ojai, CA 93024, Phone (805) 646-4367, Fax (805) 646-7404
email <>

Cannabis Germplasm Preservation Project

          The Vavilov Research Institute (VIR) in St. Petersburg, Russia completed the third successful year of seed reproductions supported by a US$ 15,000 grant of humanitarian aid from the International Hemp Association (IHA).  Reproductions were performed in four locations in Russia and the Ukraine and five locations in Italy.  If sufficient funding can be arranged, 1996 will be the final year of reproductions and comparative field trials.  Characterization, and evaluation of the collection will be completed in 1997.  We expect the 1996 budget to be around US$ 20,000.00.
          The Italian reproductions were greatly expanded in 1995 in response to a plea from the IHA to the Italian agricultural community to save their remaining hemp varieties before they become extinct.  Reproductions of additional VIR accessions were also carried out.  Nine accessions were sown at three locations near Bologna, Milan, and Rome in northern Italy, two accessions were sown in Sardinia, and three accessions were sown near Policoro in southern Italy.  Ten accessions were successfully reproduced and 73-4,000 gm were harvested for each.
          A full report of the results of the 1995 VIR/IHA CGPP will appear in our June 1996 issue.  -RCC

IHA Cannabis Textile Reference Collection

          During the past three years the IHA has collected many samples of both historical and modern hemp textiles for a Cannabis Textile Reference Collection.  The collection will be both a reference of historical interest as a chronicling of the development of hemp textiles for the Western market and function as the standard reference collection for the development of analysis protocols for identifying true Cannabis hemp.
          When sample size allows, sets of 5 identical samples of each textile will be collected and mounted in five individual binders.  The purpose of having five identical sets of samples is to maintain a primary and duplicate set at the IHA offices for reference and allow three other sets to be sent to textile laboratories for characteri-zation and analysis.
          The IHA is soliciting hemp textile samples for inclusion in the Cannabis Textile Reference Collection.  We request that submitted samples be large enough samples to cut five 10 X 15 cm swatches, preferably with a selvage edge, so that a swatch can be mounted on plastic archival pages and included in each of the five volumes.  We would prefer to cut the swatch samples ourselves.  The 10 X 15 cm sample size is large enough to allow one to feel the texture of the cloth, take photographs, and remove small amounts for analysis.  If only smaller samples are available please submit them anyway and they will be divided up in to as many of the collection volumes as possible.  Please include any information about the sample such as date produced or aquired, fiber content, geographical origin, usage, manufacturing techniques, yarn and weave specifications, etc.  A quistionaire will be provided for contributors.  The more samples we receive the more valuable the Cannabis Textile Reference Collection will be.
          The methods of hemp textile manufacture are changing from the traditional to the modern at a tremendous pace.  Now is the time to take samples and chronicle this rapid development of the hemp industry before these valuable samples are lost.  Eventually the IHA would like to assemble reference collections for hemp yarns, cordage, sliver, ribbon, paper, non-woven textiles, laminates, composites and other products manufactured from Cannabis.  Thanks for your participation.  -RCC

First Finnish Hemp Seminar

          On Saturday September 9, Finland’s first major seminar on industrial hemp in modern times was held at a beautifully restored historical building in the little village of Niemisjärvi, near the Hankasalmi home of organizers Jace Callaway, Anita Hemmilä and Ulla Kolehmainen.  Many different facets of the "hamppu" phenomenon were reviewed through interesting lectures on the history and culture of Cannabis in Finland, growth of experimental oil and fiber crops, the environmental implications of hemp, its legal status and the agricultural regulations pertaining to this "new" crop.  IHA Secretary Dave Pate gave lectures concerning both the various international policies on Cannabis cultivation and the hemp product development potential for Finland.  Displays of antique fiber processing equipment, as well as modern hemp products, added to the enjoyment of wonderfully decorated surroundings and tasty food.  The seminar served to consolidate and focus the hemp movement in Finland, as well as to attract considerable media attention.