May 19, 2023
At a Glance
- Floral hemp has lost its luster due to waning demand for CBD.
Graham Page firmly believes that cotton and hemp can become “BFFs," or best friends forever. After all, both are natural fibers that can be utilized to make a multitude of textile products.
Of late, there has been a renewed interest in growing more fiber hemp in North Carolina to meet the demand for textile products made from the hemp plant. For the most part, floral hemp has lost its luster due to waning demand for CBD, but potential is seen for fiber hemp.
Page is director of advanced manufacturing at VF Corporation, a large apparel, footwear and accessories company that is looking to use hemp in more of its product lines. Page stresses that he does not see hemp replacing cotton, the traditional and historic fiber produced in North Carolina.
He spoke at the new and emerging crops seminar sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services April 13 at the newly completed Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center in Raleigh. Page believes hemp is a good fit for North Carolina because is both a textile state and a farm state.
“We see reduced land use and more fiber produced per acre than other natural cellulosics. And I’m not calling out a particular natural cellulosic. But I would say for hemp it’s our belief that hemp and cotton are best friends forever. We’re blending hemp with cotton. That would be the key product moving forward,” Page said at the seminar.
In the 19th century, hemp was the textile fiber of choice, use for products including rope, sailcloth, clothing, paper and linens. Hemp is one of the strongest natural fibers for textile processing. Since it is stronger and more durable than cotton, it viewed as a great fiber to blend with cotton.
Hemp is viewed as a sustainable crop that can do well in North Carolina, particularly in the historic tobacco producing counties. And hemp fabric is in demand because it is considered ecologically friendly to produce.
Time will tell if cotton and hemp become “BFFs.” If hemp could be used to help bolster the textile industry in North Carolina that could benefit the cotton industry as well. It has been my hope that cotton would return as a locavore crop in North Carolina, with most of the cotton staying in the state to be spun and turned into textile goods made right here at home. Perhaps hemp and cotton together will make that happen.
One thing is certain, if the market is there for fiber hemp, North Carolina farmers will find the path to success. North Carolina farmers are innovators; they always have been. If hemp can be profitably gown, North Carolina farmers will prove to be leaders in the field.
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