The Pro Athletes Hemp Association Seed to Sale Story
Why Seed to Sale? For the Consumer, the Word is Value.
The process of starting with plants and ending with shipping a product is long and complex. For many companies, these steps are outsourced which adds cost of production at every step. We take tremendous pride in every step of our process to delivering the best American made CBD products, at America’s best CBD value. Take a few minutes and let us walk you through the steps of being a USA CBD seed to ship company.
Seed to sale actually started with identifying the plants, or in the hemp world, “strains” that we want to grow for our products. In 2015, in one of America’s first legal hemp fields, we started with dozens of test rows of strains to select the best ones for seed development. With hemp, the female flowers are critical for CBD and other cannabinoid production. We wanted plants with flowers that had high resistance to insects, because we do not use sprays, and sturdy against the weather. Flowers are harvested in October and November so it needs to be mold and frost resistant.
Breeding for Seeds
CBD, CBG, CBC, CNB and all the other 113 cannabinoids come from female plants. In nature, cannabis is usually about 60% female and 40% male. If you have a regular seeded field then about 40% of your space is wasted on male plants and females will produce fewer flowers once pollinated. We make our all-female seed, called feminization. Over the winter, we control the climate indoors and grow rooms of all female plants.
After 8 weeks of growing under 20 hour a day lighting, we turn the lights down to 12 hours on per day and force them to start flowering. At the same time, we push one out of every ten females in the room to switch sex and produce pollen and not flowers. The pollen from female plants produces only females seeds.
The growing season for hemp is really sunlight based, which means mid-May is the earliest for plants and seeds. If we plant too early, the females will go into flower due to the limited sunlight available. We plant in June so the plants do not get too big and are easier to harvest. If you plant hemp in the ground too early it can grow huge with plants in excess of 8 feet wide and 8 feet tall. We direct sow the seed into the ground every 4 feet. Clean soil, good pH water and lots of sunshine is all they need to cover a field. With the flowers on the females primarily on the last 18 inches of any stem, growing big plants is a waste of space and can damage equipment because the stalk fiber is so strong.
This is the most time critical step in the process. Harvest too early and your flower will not have fully developed cannabinoids. Too late and the plant starts to rot and die in the northern part of the country. In the southern part, the humidity can get into the flowers and cause rot. We start our harvest in late October and take off about 50,000 pounds of fresh hemp flower per day. This is make about 10,000 pounds of dry material each day of harvest. We dry it so it can crumble in your hand and store it in sealed agriculture sacks. In a sealed and dry environment in our warehouses, material can be stored until processed at our refinery. The CBD and other cannabinoids can stay very well preserved for up to several years in a dry environment.
This is where the magic happens as we take tons of plant material and pull out the cannabinoid oils for finished products. To produce a pint of full spectrum CBD concentrated oil, it can take up to 25 pounds of dry hemp material. There are 7 important steps to getting the pure oils from the plants so we can use them for making products.
In this first step we use very cold temperatures to super chill the hemp flower material and break it apart in order to separate the plant material from the CBD and other cannabinoids. Imagine a giant washing machine and chilling 50 gallons of pure alcohol, -30 degrees then “washing” 50 pounds of hemp. We drain the alcohol completely and recycle the spent hemp. We have now separated the oils, fats, lipids and other parts from the solid plant material and what we are after is the hemp oil material that is now suspended in all that “wash’ alcohol.
With all the cannabinoids suspended in the “wash”, we need to concentrate it down to take up less space in the next steps. This is why we use the alcohol. It evaporates very quickly, even at room temperature, and can be easily purified and reused to reduce waste. The “wash” goes into stainless, sealed containers which are heated up with hot water. This heat causes the pure alcohol to evaporate and nothing else. After a few hours, the ‘wash’ is reduced by over 90%. All that alcohol is reclaimed for the extraction cycle and the remaining wash material is bottled and goes to winterization.
Winterization and Filtering
The concentrated wash goes back into the cold. The remaining material suspended in the alcohol is put into kegs and stacked into the freezers for several days. This separates unwanted bits of material on the top. We remove the fats, lipids and other plant particles and run the liquid through a filtering process. Three filters to be exact. All the way down to 1.5 microns. A human hair is about 70 microns! It takes a day to filter 5 gallons, and we do it 3 times for purification.
Now it is time to concentrate the liquid into a more solid oil and remove all the remaining alcohol. We use a rotational vaporizer or “rotovape” as it is known to heat up the material and evaporate nothing but filtered, pure hemp oil concentrates. This results in a product the industry calls “crude” oil. It still has the chlorophyll pigments so it is a very dark oil in this state. These oil impurities need to be separated out of all the material so they are not in the final product.
Fortunately, the CBD and other cannabinoids boil at controllable temperatures. The parts of the plant in the crude oil that we do not want in the product happen to boil off at low temperatures. We use this to create “fractional” distillation. We start at a low temperature and the chlorophylls and scent/odors boil off first. It is a greenish color. Once the temperature is high enough, the CBD, CBG and other minor cannabinoids then start to boil off. As the gas turns to a solid oil, it is yellow in color. What remains is a very dark mix of oil and plant material that, when taken away from heat, turns solid. The green and dark fractions are "distilled” out and we are left with the clean, clear, yellow CBD, CBG or CBN full spectrum distillate oil.
The full spectrum golden distillate is now ready for full spectrum products but for pure CBD products, we need to separate out the CBD. Highly concentrated oil will begin to form solid CBD or CBG crystals when left to solidify. CBD and CBG are both easily separated for products, are a pale white crystal, have no odor and melt at low temps for products.
Ready to Ship
In purchasing our products, you are doing more than helping former NFL players, you are supporting the American worker. Our seed facility, right here in Oregon. Our farms, right here in Oregon on American farms. Our products are all made in the USA. Every purchase is helping the lives of so many people and we all at the Pro Athlete Hemp Association thank you for your support.