Ask Our Experts: Pollination


Q: How much of a threat to the CBD industry does cross-pollination pose?


By Trevor Yahn-Grode, Data Analyst, New Frontier Data

A: The issue of cross-pollination between cannabinoid-producing and non-cannabinoid-producing hemp farmers is as old as the hemp industry itself, and already the subject of contention in dozens of lawsuits. Female hemp plants produce many more cannabinoids (e.g., THC and CBD) when they are not pollinated, but pollen which drifts from nearby hemp grain or fiber crops can inadvertently ruin those hemp crops.

The problem is likely to get much worse in the short term, as hemp grain and fiber acreage are almost certain to outstrip cannabinoid acreage in the next five years. Because it is practically impossible to predict or prevent the drifting of pollen in the air, regulatory remedies to the problem are few and far between. It is possible that something akin to crop zoning laws will develop, where certain geographic areas are reserved for cannabinoid production, with others for grain and fiber production.

However, even with regulations, it is unrealistic to expect farmers to be able to control the spread of pollen from their crops, especially with increasingly unreliable climate conditions. In the long term, it is quite possible that cannabinoid production of all types will be relegated to indoor growing conditions, while hemp fiber and grain operations dominate outdoor acreage.