6 Analytical Tests That Will Help Improve Your Hemp Crop
April 1, 2020
This article first appeared in the INX Labs blog.
As cannabidiol continues to find its place in the marketplace, customers are giving hemp-derived products a shot. In fact, one in seven Americans said they use cannabidiol-based products, according to a poll by Gallup.
However, one recurring concern among consumers when shopping for these products is the accuracy and information found in their labels. A 2017 study by Penn Medicine found that nearly 70% of all cannabidiol products sold online were either over or under labeled.
To accurately determine the contents found in hemp-derived products —such as correct dosage and ensuring tetrahydrocannabinol levels are under the legal limit of 0.3%—, you can rely on third-party testing to help you provide transparency and gain customer trust in every step of the growing life of your crop. In this article, we share six analytical tests that can significantly improve your hemp crop.
Cannabinoid Potency Testing
Potency Testing measures the cannabinoids found in your hemp sample and the compound’s strength. Through Ultra High Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), the industry’s preferred equipment for testing hemp flower, INX Labs can analyze samples at ambient temperature without requiring a catalyst to produce a heat response. This technique offers the ability to perform rapid separations for the detection and profiling of cannabinoids.
While regulations in the United States continue to change since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, standards and consistent strength monitoring are indispensable to protect consumers against unwanted side effects and contamination of the plant. Potency Testing can also be used to ensure your hemp plant is lawful by showing that the psychoactive compound contains less than the legal limit (0.3%).
Terpenes are organic carbohydrates that occur naturally in hemp and other plants. They fend off harmful predators and lure helpful pollinators to ensure optimum growth while providing the unique aroma and flavor of the plant.
Moreover, terpenes synergize with cannabinoids like psychoactive compounds and cannabinoids in hemp to make up the entire profile of the plants. The cannabinoids and terpenes combine to maximize the benefits of each of other and mitigate potential side effects, commonly known as the “entourage effect.”
Cultivation conditions for hemp plants provide an ideal environment for the growth of molds and fungi, which can start producing chemical mycotoxins if allowed to reproduce. Mycotoxins are a known risk throughout the food safety industry and are associated with kidney and liver harm, reproductive disorders, and immune suppression.
For example, the aflatoxins, a form of mycotoxin generated by some species of Aspergillus fungi, which are potential carcinogens, are extremely dangerous. Even if the dosage of aflatoxin is high enough, immediate exposure can be life-threatening as the resulting aflatoxicosis can cause severe liver failure.
Residual Solvent Testing
Organic solvents such as butane, ethanol, CO2, and propane can extract and isolate active ingredients like psychoactive compounds from the plant material during the production of hemp extracts and concentrates. The process of extraction is usually a solvent intensive process and requires skill in removing solvents.
Residual Solvent Testing identifies the presence of these harmful solvents, impurities, and other trace residues. It is crucial to assess the efficiency of the manufacturing process and the quality of the product for safe consumption.
Due to the number of pesticides used in modern-day agriculture, hemp tends to clean the soil, migrating pesticides into the plant. Pesticides, including some intended only for ornamental plants, may be associated with cancer or other serious health effects.
While hemp yields are valuable, you may be forfeiting thousands of dollars by losing crops to mites, mold, and other pests that try to consume the plant. To ensure safety and optimum growth, it requires trustworthy pesticide testing.
Heavy Metals Testing
Heavy metal bioaccumulation is a known process that occurs in hemp plants. During extraction, heavy metals are concentrated in processed oil, increasing the risk of contamination. Hemp producers are required to test for heavy metal contaminants in products intended for retail sale, ensuring products meet all state and federal regulations and are safe for consumption.
Through rigorous lab analysis, you, too, can provide transparency and gain customer trust with your commercial hemp crop. Seek a reliable third-party testing laboratory that can make all the difference.