As American cannabis farmers struggle to accurately determine the sex of their plants and keep their crops from overheating, they are considering defining potency in cannabis or plants containing 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. However, technology is advancing to make these tasks a little easier.With the help of top talent from Louisiana-based Texas A&M University Mariposa Technology has created a digital farming tool for hemp and marijuana farmers that uses its database and software to test crops at any stage of the growing season without cutting samples. A small laser-operated spectroscopy tool can be used to determine THC content and plant sex without waiting for laboratory data processing.
The Mariposa Technology team has developed the Predictive Analytical Modeling Application for Plants (PAMAP), a protocol for rapid on-site testing of live plants. This allows farmers to self-inspect, saving weeks of valuable time that would normally be spent mailing in cut samples for lab inspection.
“At the moment the only plants in our database are cannabis plants, mainly hemp. Dalle Molle said. “We focus on hemp primarily because we believe our technology can help farmers solve a big problem for the industry.”
The process of scanning plants requires a handheld device utilizing Raman spectroscopy. Raman spectroscopy is an analytical laboratory technique that uses scattered light from a laser to measure the vibrational modes of molecules and thereby detect the chemical composition of materials. Laser light interacts with molecular vibrations to produce a chemical fingerprint.
“So, essentially, you have a handheld device paired with a database consisting of millions of different data points, and when you fire a laser through the scanner, it scans living, complex biological tissue, so this is a non-destructive, non-invasive test,” says Mohr. “And that scan produces a spectrum, and that spectrum is sent through our application and read by our algorithm to produce a result.”
hot hemp horror
How serious is the hot hemp problem? According to New Frontier Data, in 2019 more than 4,000 acres of his approximately 243,000 cannabis plants in the United States were destroyed due to the heat. In 2020, this only increased him to 6,234 acres, even though the planted area decreased. Considering the USDA’s 2021 THC limit definition change (now limited to 0.3% delta-9 THC, but also to total THC), according to recent data That number could then exceed the 10,000 acres destroyed.
“We have spoken before with farmers who had to destroy entire crops. It’s becoming less and less like that,” says Mohr. “But for farmers who are aware of it, things are only going down.”
Hemp farmers can usually single out hot hemp effectively, but by the time they realize it, they’ve often wasted thousands of dollars already. Still, in many states, large amounts of hot hemp biomass enter the regulated cannabis market and are sold as vape pens and other products.
“With our tool, you can be aware of this before you even get your COA. [certificate of analysis]. Using PAMAP, we can basically predetermine when it’s going to be hot before we send it to the local authorities for testing,” Mohr says. “So this is an optimization tool as well as a testing tool. You have to understand and come up with some kind of Plan B. Testing can provide all that information.”
Gender determination of plants
Published in peer-reviewed journal Vol. 27, No. 15 moleculereleased in August 2022, John K. Roberts III and Molle, co-founders and presidents of Mariposa Technology, join five other co-authors, Nicolas K. Goff, James F. Guenther, Mickal Adler, Greg Mathews and Dmitry Kurauski, for Raman spectroscopy. published a study using sex plant. This journal article demonstrated how hermaphroditic, male and female hemp plants can be determined based on the detection of different amounts of carotenoids. Carotenoids, or tetraterpenoids, are yellow, orange, and red fat-soluble pigments found in certain plant cultivars, including cannabis.
Concentrations of carotenoids are highest in female cannabis, hermaphrodites have the lowest carotenoid content, and males are in between. Specifically, the intensity of carotenoid oscillations detected by spectroscopy was much stronger in female plants than in male plants, and less so in hermaphrodites.
“We think it’s because of the carotenoids in the plant,” says Roberts, explaining how they can distinguish between males, females, and hermaphrodites. “But we haven’t decided on that. We’ve proven that he can do it 100% of the time on males and females, and 98.7% of the time on females.” bottom. [hermaphrodite] plant. But the real reason we can identify it is still something of an open scientific question. “
Gender is a controversial topic in the hemp world, and efforts are underway to ban hemp for males.Based in Corvallis, Oregon Oregon CBD The company has been fighting state legislatures for a ban on male cannabis plants since 2014. The company said windblown pollen from nearby farms had destroyed crops and cost an estimated $2.5 million.
Cross-pollination from dishonest males causes problems. Pollinated hemp crops lose up to half of their biomass and about 30% of their total cannabinoid content, which is bad news for hemp growers and processors who focus on CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids. For farmers who only focus on fiber, it’s not such a big deal. Early determination of plant sex may mitigate some of the damage.
What is Raman spectroscopy?
Dmitry KurowskiTexas A&M’s professor of biochemistry and biophysics specializes in Raman spectroscopy techniques and uses them for everything from identifying cannabis constituents to analyzing crime scenes. For example, Dr. Kurowski demonstrated in his work that Raman spectroscopy can be used to determine whether hair at a crime scene is dyed or has natural hair color, which is a constant concern for law enforcement agencies. It was a minor issue.
As with human hair, Raman spectroscopy can also be used to determine the composition of cannabis. The laser excites the molecules, causing them to vibrate differently from each other, producing different spectra in the readings.
“The laser shoots out, but the focal point is only millimeters wide,” Mohr says. “If you fire a laser at a very concentrated area, you create an excitation in the photons and electrons.The oscillations are then received by the device and the reader inside the device. and create a spectrum based on the vibrations of those molecules, which is why this is such a precise instrument.”
Saving time and money is not the only motivation behind technology in the cannabis world. Hot hemp, especially in high-elevation states that are susceptible to the UV light that triggers THC production, continues to be a problem.
Roberts explained that the scanning hardware has been around for about a decade and is made by Agilent Technologies, but had never been used on cannabis before. Agilent Technologies is primarily focused on ways to improve your workflow across your lab. The company was founded in his 1999 as a spin-off from Hewlett-Packard.
The same tools previously used for crime scene analysis also turned out to be ideal for determining cannabis characteristics.
“What happened was that our collaborator and partner in this matter, Professor Kurowski of Texas A&M, said that this particular device, used for chemical identification in a wide range of scenarios, could be used to identify suitable lasers, We found that it has nanometer and handheld output, a device that removes background scatter from the spectrum of living produce,” explains Roberts.
Handheld scanning devices are also important, but without the right data to compare readings, they are essentially useless. Mariposa Technology will soon offer handheld detection devices through a subscription service after a software update.
“The hardware itself can produce and confirm numerical representations of the organic compounds and spectra it is scanning, but without data sets and libraries available to reference and compare it with, what I don’t even know,” says Roberts.
Not only does this technology speed up the cannabis testing process, but given new shortcuts for materials such as chemicals and solvents used in laboratories, the technology will further the cannabis testing industry by reducing its environmental impact. can start a revolution. It is also a modification that can reduce transportation costs and other costs.
“What we are doing is working hard to reduce the carbon footprint of the entire cannabis testing industry,” Mohr said. “Our device is very easy to use. One of the main reasons is that it does not require chemicals or solvents. No transportation, but we don’t have anything like that, so in addition to everything else we’re doing, it’s about making the whole cannabis industry greener and greener. I hope so.”
This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue of the magazine. high times magazine.