What is the common point between a racehorse and a lover of handwritten letters? Hemp ! Yes, this vegetable raw material is used both to make comfortable bedding for equines, and to make high-end letterheads.
And if its culture tends to develop nowadays all over the world, it is thanks to a French exception …
History of a prohibition
Only 150 years ago, hemp was one of the main textile fibers available, with linen and wool. It was particularly used in sailing and ropes.
With the development of cotton and synthetic fibers, competition is becoming fierce for the production of hemp, especially since flax is positioned exactly on the same niche. And in 1950, it is the coup de grace, with the ban on growing hemp around the world because of its content of THC, a psychoactive substance.
A ban all over the world, except in France and Spain, where we continue to grow small areas, mainly for luxury stationery.
On the skin and under the roofs …
All parts of the plant can be valued, including seeds from which edible oil is extracted, and which can be used for the manufacture of cosmetics.
If luxury stationery or racehorses litter constitute real outlets for hemp, especially with hemp wool, the most spectacular development concerns different areas of construction, roof and wall insulation, concrete manufacturing. Indeed, mixed with lime, the fiber is mineralized, which gives a mortar that has interesting characteristics in thermal and sound insulation, robustness, and even for its behavior vis-à-vis the fire.
No chance to ” hover ”
Despite the limited number of hectares in production, research on this plant continues in our country. And in 2000, scientists managed to create a variety of hemp completely free of THC, which can be differentiated unambiguously any hemp said “recreational”, that is to say cannabis.
Large-scale cultivation then becomes possible, and a renewed interest is felt all over the world for these French varieties . Today, France is the largest producer of hemp in Europe, with 9,100 hectares cultivated in 2005.
Hemp, ecological culture
Hemp is a very interesting crop from an environmental point of view. Highly resistant to diseases and pests, it does not require the use of any pesticides and is cultivated without maintenance from May to August.
In addition, hemp is a “stifling” plant that prevents the growth of weeds.
Finally, because of the vigor of its root network, it loosens the soil in depth, which is very favorable to the soil life.