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3 Times you Should Test your Hemp: Tips for Processors

This article will explain when and why processors should test their hemp throughout the extraction operation. The best times to test vary depending on your job function. Still, we recommend completing a full panel any time selling product (from farmer to a processor, processor to wholesaler, and wholesaler to retailer).

Testing is crucial because it helps you determine if the commodity is potent enough to process, ensures you've extracted as much as you can from it, verifies it's free of any contaminants and helps you set your selling price. Luckily, establishing when and how isn't as complex for processors as for growers/producers.

This is the second article in a three-part series regarding hemp testing timelines. Each series focuses on a different role in the process:

1. Part 1: Producers

2: Part 2: Processors

3. Part 3: Retailers

When is the best time to test your hemp as a processor?

At a minimum, you should complete a full panel inspection before you sell, but it's a good idea to test throughout the extraction process. Below is a high-level outline of when to submit if you're a processor:

It's ultimately up to you to determine what tests you'll want performed on your hemp and how often you want to assess hemp quality. Adams Independent Testing (AIT) cannot dictate that for you. It's also important to keep in mind that there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to processing. Therefore, the tips below are merely suggestions to help guide you through the practice.

Before Extraction

If working with the producer or broker on full panel testing is an option, it may help both of you save some money and help ensure you're purchasing the hemp at a fair price. For this to work successfully, you'll need to ensure the following:

  • You understand and approve of the technique the producer uses to pull the sample
  • You're submitting the sample to a lab you both know and trust
  • You'll be kept in the loop throughout the process and will be able to secure a copy of the certificate of analysis (COA) from the lab once testing is finalized.

When it comes to super sacks, the crop can migrate as the sack is moved, causing heavier components to transform to the bottom. additionally, if you purchase multiple sacks, it may be hard to tell if they all came from the same producer, field, or variety. For this reason, you'll need to combine material from the top and bottom of multiple sacks to get a representative sample.

If you weren't involved in the full panel testing before acquiring the hemp, you probably don't know for sure how the producer obtained that COA. Plus, extraction can be expensive. You don't want to complete the full panel process only to discover that it's full of pesticides, so it's best to err on the side of caution.

Just to reiterate, COAs back you up down the road should discrepancies arise after the supply leaves your possession. For this reason, we highly recommend sending in for full panel analysis.

Throughout the Extraction Process

Many processors have benefited from performing cannabinoid and residual solvent testing on the byproduct after their first round of extraction. Doing so helps determine the amount of material/CBD left in it. If the CBD/cannabinoid level is 0.5% you've likely pulled everything you can from it. If two to three percent remains, that's waste. You can either attempt to draw out more or tweak the method you used accordingly for the next round. 

After evaporating the substance used for extraction (e.g. ethanol, etc.), it doesn't hurt to submit a residual solvent test. It's a good practice to verify the solvent is below the mandated action limit so you don't waste valuable time proceeding to the next step. The effort simply isn't worth it should you later deem the product unsellable. This is also an ideal time to complete a potency evaluation to ensure you've attained your predetermined objectives.

Before Selling

You'll need a full panel again when it comes time to market and sell your goods (i.e. crude oil, distillate, isolate, or final product). One thing to consider is that full panels on crude oil and distillate are accepted more commonly than biomass tests due to low sampling variability (i.e. they're very homogenous materials). Fraud is still a plausible possibility, through. Just like with producers, a full panel serves as an insurance policy should a future assessment produce conflicting results.

Why is testing so important?

Checks and balances throughout the extraction process are essential. Like with procedures, failing to test could result in serious implications for your business, reputation, time, and finances. Tests:

  • Serve as an insurance policy against third party contaminants/results
  • Ensure useful material isn't going to waste
  • Help you maximize profit (the higher the cannabinoid potency, the higher the selling price)
  • Protect consumers

Connect with Us

To learn more about AIT procedures and what's included, visit our Pricing and Services page

See how easy it is to receive your hemp Certificate of Analysis within 1 - 2 business days.