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Decorticating Hemp in America’s Heartland

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Decorticating Hemp in America’s Heartland

Brothers and business partners Jacob and Andrew Bish, walk the fields near Giltner, Nebraska. Photo Courtesy: Heather Collins

By Heather Collins

Set amongst the golden sea of corn off Interstate 80 in Giltner, Nebraska, sits a patch of hemp that agricultural leader Andrew Bish wants to turn into fiber. 

Determined to make that dream a reality, Andrew, along with the team from his family’s third-generation farm equipment company, Bish Enterprises, is on a mission to create more efficient ways for hemp farmers and manufacturers to produce clean fiber and hurd from dried hemp stalks. 

“There are endless opportunities to grow hemp for fiber, and as a farm machinery company, we realized that we needed to step back and learn more about what is being put in the ground to effectively design equipment for harvesting and processing purposes,” explained Andrew Bish, COO Bish Enterprises. 

This knowledge-seeking approach led Bish to do his homework. After countless hours of research and meeting with other industry experts, he decided to put the seeds to the test.  

Andrew and his team chose nine hemp seed varieties from the United States, China, and Europe and planted them in different plots of land this past spring. 

“Each plot of land is as unique as the hemp seed itself. We planted our seeds in Nebraska, Iowa, Texas, Minnesota, Oregon, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico. Our goal is not about having the tallest hemp plant, as we want to discover which seed produces the best results for fiber,” added Bish. 

Once harvest takes place, Bish predicts he will find the right results. “There are so many factors at play with this test. We look at the soil, the weather, the genetics – everything is taken into consideration.”

Andrew and his brother Jacob, operate and manage the family company and together, their combined passion and commitment have attracted support from colleges and universities, such as The University of Illinois, Champagne, and others. 

“We look forward to collaborating with other entities and corporate partners because our little experiment will produce big results for the future of the hemp industry,” added Bish. 

Portable Decortication
Earlier this year, Andrew also realized the need for farmers and researchers to save on labor costs, specifically with harvesting, processing, and portable decortication and identified an opportunity to partner with Colorado-based Formation Ag, a hemp-specific equipment company. In addition to other collaborations, this year they created a convenient and hands-on decorticator known as the “FiberTrack 118.” 

“We’re very excited about the new hemp research decorticator that we partnered with industry leader Formation Ag to fabricate. We finally get to bring small scale decortication to producers and researchers, who will find innovative uses and products for these raw materials.” said Jacob Bish, Bish Enterprises Communications Director.  

According to the Formation Ag website, “’The Fiber Track 118’ is a hand-fed unit that is 18-inches wide and is designed for one or two people to operate at the same time. It is ideal for small projects, genetic testing, university research, and other small scale decortication needs.”

For more information about the Fiber Track 118 or to see a video on the portable decorticator, visit https://hempharvestworks.com/product/fiber-track-micro/ .

“We’re leading the conversation about hemp and fiber and creating something directly for farmers that is convenient to use. We’re sustainably focused, and our mission is to create innovation and hemp technology for farmers that’s not only cost-effective but cutting edge,” said Andrew.  

For more information about Bish Enterprises, visit bishenterprise.com.

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Heather Collins is an Account Manager for Compass Natural Marketing and has been working in communications and marketing in the natural products industry for the past twenty years. Compass Natural serves in PR and programming for NoCo Hemp Expo and Southern Hemp Expo. Collins serves as a Contributing Writer of the weekly Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, published by We are for Better Alternatives. Contact heather@compassnaturalmarketing.com.

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