While hemp production applications opened in Texas just two months ago, Panda Biotech, a Dallas-based hemp fiber and cellulose processing company, is working quickly to build up the state's fiber industry before the company kicks into full gear in 2021.
The company has announced it is donating more than 60 tons of approved hemp fiber seed to Texas growers this upcoming season. In turn, the company says each farmer who accepts seeds will be asked—but isn’t required—to share basic data on their hemp crops.
The data will be used to generate a research summary report, which will be given for free to all participants who provide data “to help ensure the 2021 Texas harvest reaches its full potential,” the company says in a news release.
“We are literally seeding Texas’ industrial hemp industry,” said Scott Evans, executive vice president of Panda Biotech, in the news release. “We’re doing this not only because we’re confident in American-grown hemp fiber’s potential to revolutionize several industries — from textiles, bioplastics and paper to high-tech manufacturing — but also because of the confidence we have in the Texas farmer. We’re making this donation to help ignite a new industry where Texas has the potential to be a global leader, and having access to real-world data is a necessary first step for that to occur.”
The company has formulated this promotion in partnership with the Texas Industrial Hemp Council, formed by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, to help farmers experiment with, and gain experience from, their first trial crop of industrial hemp, it says in a news release.
“This new cash crop represents an exciting opportunity for Texas agricultural producers,” said Eloise Frischkorn, chairperson of the Texas Industrial Hemp Council, in the news release. “Under Commissioner Miller’s leadership, we expect to be the nation’s leader in hemp production, but as a brand-new crop, there is much yet to learn about how hemp will respond to Texas soil. Panda is being farsighted in partnering with our farmers to help get our Texas hemp industry kickstarted. Their generosity will put the state’s agricultural producers in a great position for the 2021 season.”
Panda Biotech is also partnering with Texas A&M AgriLife, which will be publishing the final report with data from the farmers.
Texas A&M AgriLife, an arm of The Texas A&M University System, will also be participating in a panel for a virtual town hall meeting held by Panda Biotech in May to provide growers with “a basic understanding of hemp fiber farming and how it can fit into their current practices and crop rotations,” according to the press release.
After that initial town hall meeting, Panda Biotech will conduct monthly online meetings with AgriLife agents to answer questions and share progress as well as lessons learned during the growing season.
The free seed distribution started May 4. Growers may take up to 25 acres worth of seed, which will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Producers may use the resulting industrial hemp crop for any purpose they choose except for seed reproduction for 2021.
Panda Biotech has been working diligently to make itself known in the Texas hemp industry. The company recently announced it has contracted with an international equipment manufacturer to construct the largest hemp decortiator in the U.S., it says in a press release.
The 10-ton-an-hour decorticator is expected to commence initial operations in the first quarter of 2021 and be fully operational in the first half of that year. Panda Biotech says it intends on installing two 10-ton decorticators at its planned Texas processing facility. According to the company’s projected production schedule, the two decorticating lines will annually process more than 130,000 tons of Texas-grown industrial hemp for its fiber, hurd and cellulose.
Panda Biotech says will enter into contracts with producers for the 2021 growing season once installation begins on the first production line at Hemp Gin, the name of its processing facility that will be located in Shallowater, Tex.
Panda Biotech clarifies in the news release that its recently announced initiative is not a buyback program. (These types of programs had their share of issues in the 2019 growing season.) Instead, Panda Biotech says it is an “educational vehicle” for Texas hemp producers.
“Panda expects its report to provide participating farmers with first-hand, on-the-ground research that will assist them in successfully planting future hemp fiber crops. The data could also benefit farmers for crop insurance and banking purposes,” the news release says.
Producers interested in participating in Panda Biotech’s free hemp fiber seed promotion can find complete details and sign up here.