Hemp stems are 80% hurds (pulp byproduct after the hemp fiber is removed from the plant). Hemp hurds are 77% cellulose – a primary chemical feed stock (industrial raw material) used in the production of chemicals, plastics and fibers. Depending on which U.S. agricultural report is correct, an acre of full grown hemp plants can sustainably provide from 4 to 50 or even 100 times the cellulose found in cornstalks, kenaf, or sugar cane – the planet’s next highest annual cellulose plants.
In most places, hemp can be harvested twice a year and, in warmer areas such as Southern California, Texas, Florida and the like, it could be a year-round crop. Hemp has a short growing season and can be planted after food crops have been harvested.
An independent, semi-rural network of efficient and autonomous farmers should become the key economic player in the production of energy in this country.
The United States government pays (in cash or in “kind”) for farmers to refrain from growing on approximately 90 million acres of farmland each year, called the “soil bank.” And 10-90 million acres of hemp or other woody annual biomass planted on this restricted, unplanted fallow farm land would make energy a whole new ball game and be a real attempt at doing something to save the Earth. There are another 500 million marginal unplanted acres of farm land in America.
Each acre of hemp would yield 1,000 gallons of methanol, or 500 gallons of gasoline. Fuels from hemp, along with the recycling of paper, etc., would be enough to run America virtually without oil.