Non-photodependent industrial hemp: The new Colombian El Dorado

Industrial hemp in Colombia

Expectations vs. reality

Sources consulted at the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) confirm that the institute expects an avalanche of PEAs (Agronomic Evaluation Tests) by 2020. The vast majority will focus on non-psychoactive cannabis varieties, since the delay accumulated in the Ministry of Health to process applications for cannabis processing licenses has many companies waiting for their psychoactive cannabis cultivation licenses.

Although most companies are focusing on varieties with high concentrations of CBD for greenhouse cultivation, large-scale projects for industrial purposes are gaining visibility. And what worries local businessmen the most is the shortage of viable industrial hemp varieties for open-air cultivation without artificial light support.

Draw the (Equatorial) line

Almost all known stable hemp genetics have been stabilized in the northern hemisphere. China, Europe and more recently the USA, are the main players of this industry, and all these regions enjoy favorable seasonality conditions. The varieties are planted in spring, when the daily daylight hours grow and transition from the vegetative state to flowering when the days begin to shorten. All are harvested between September and August. However, Colombia, due to its proximity to the equator, maintains a stable 12-hour daily sunlight regime throughout the year. This confuses the mentioned varieties, which bloom without having completed the vegetative cycle.

Golden hope

The 613 Agrotech breeding team, in collaboration with researchers from the National University of Colombia and Spanish breeders, has advanced several stabilization tests with different hemp genotypes in different Colombian natural subregions. Likewise, we have advanced PEAs (Agronomic Evaluation Tests) before ICA with two of these varieties for the Orinoquia and Atlantic subregions that we expect will be registered in the name of our clients in the National Register of Cultivars in June 2020.

The Spanish colonizers never found the golden city of the Muisca empire in Colombian territory. But 500 years later, they are very close to achieving a milestone that will transform the industrial hemp industry in Colombia and whose economic potential is exponentially greater than cannabinoid extracts for pharmaceutical use.