Hawaii Industrial Hemp Research Project
Act 305, 1999 Legislative Session

David P. West, Ph.D. Principal Investigator
Honolulu, HI


Hawaii Industrial Hemp Research Project

Annual Summary 5/2/00

Progress and Prospects

As of this writing the HIHRP has planted seven replications of the ten varieties of European hemp obtained through Industrial Hemp Seed Development Co. (Kenex, LTD, Chatham, Ontario, Canada).

The project has to date filed three importation permits with the DEA to obtain additional European/Canadian cultivars and also unique material from Japan.

The test plots which measure approx 40X40 in. (Phase Two Photo Album) are planted with a special piece of equipment specifically developed for placing dense plantings in defined areas under the circumstances of this unique installation (ie. Operating within a cyclone fence sixty feet wide).

The greatest impediment to production was quickly identified as the birds which love hemp seed and can quickly undo an unprotected planting. The measure adopted to confront this predation --screened covers-- would be unsatisfactory for large scale production, but works in the context of this limited facility making it possible to establish dense plantings of hemp seed.

Dense plantings:

Hemp is a favorite of the environmental movement because it can lay claim to being a more environmentally benign crop than most, needing no pesticides. In fact, hemp has a reputation as a crop which will clean fields of weeds. It accomplishes this because the densely planted crop shades the soil under its canopy and weeds perish for lack of light.

The hemp which accomplishes this is that being grown for fiber, planted on narrow row spacing and reaching 9+ feet in height.

When you bring hemp-- a temperate climate crop grown at latitudes above 30°, and most commonly around 50°N--to tropical latitudes, the long nights tell the plant it's time to flower. The plants emerge from the ground and go immediately into reproductive phase. They do not have the juvenile phase during which they normally elongate internodes thereby producing the tall crop. The plants in the Hawaiian test plots tend to flower (males shedding pollen) about a month after planting. In Hawaii, the plants rarely reach 3 ft tall. They are diminutive versions of their northern-planted siblings. So in Hawaii, the density of planting has been greatly increased, with the result that we have a crop which grows densely thereby suppressing weeds while bearing seed, and maturing in about 3 months.

One hopes the implications of this are not lost.

(Phase Three Photo Album 1: planting)


In this project's first year the following goals have been met:

  • Identified and arranged site for project
  • Installed required secure facility
  • Applied for and received state and federal permits for growing cannabis
    Phase One Photo Album: Construction)
  • Identified germplasm source(s) and obtained import permit(s)
  • Brought in seed.
  • Planted seed (in ceremony on Dec. 14, 1999 and subsequently in replicated plots)
  • Developed method of planting appropriate to location.
  • Initial evaluation of hazards to production (birds and bugs)
  • Initial evaluation of relative performance
  • Initiated bioassay of cannabinoid content of cultivars with University of Hawaii at Manoa biochemist Dr. Harry Ako.
  • Initiated project to evaluate hemp efficacy in bioremediation with Dr. Dan Paquin, UHManoa engineer.
  • Assessed soil and other environmental and agronomic factors for suitability to hemp production (soil requiring pH modification and fertility augmentation).
  • Demonstrated that northern varieties of hemp grown in tropical setting have excellent potential for food production and weed control.
  • Provided Alterna media exposure in return for support.

Requirements for second year:

The original projected budgetary requirement for this project's first year of operation proved to be well estimated. The project is rounding the years within 10 percent of estimate.

A second year of the project will identify varieties from global sources which can perform as seed producers and others which can produce fiber at Hawaiian latitudes. Optimum agronomic regimes will be determined for Hawaiian soils and growing conditions. Current university associations will be maintained.

The project is poised for growth. The addition of a full time assistant is needed as the project is quickly exceeding what one individual can manage (so far, Dr. West has been a one-man show). An "office/lab" must be provided both for equipment storage and for the handling of research materials as well as interacting with the public. These needs substitute equivalently with the large one-time capital expenses of the first period, resulting in comparable budgetary requirements. The burnrate of the project can be maintained therefore at the current rate. Rather than the cumbersome system of variable monthly disbursement which we employed in the first year and which resulted in irregularity, simplicity recommends a constant disbursement rate of $16,000/month.

The Hawaii Industrial Hemp Research Project looks forward to another banner year for hemp and Alterna's continued participation as benefactor of this effort. In the coming year, we anticipate an opportunity for this headline:

A PLANT OF REKNOWN: HAWAIIAN HEMP RESEARCH EFFORT DEMONSTRATES CROP CAN FEED PLANET, harvests three crops per year! Project funded by Alterna® Applied Research Labs.


The Hawaii Industrial Hemp Research Project is supported by funding from Alterna Applied Research LabsAlterna Applied Research Labs