Hemp has two kinds of fibre
Hemp stalks contain two main types of fibre: bast or long fibres found in the bark (skin) and hurd (shive) or short fibres located in the core of the stem.
The bark of hemp has the longest, strongest fiber of all plants. This fiber can be made into any building material, including fiberboard, roofing, flooring, wallboard, caulking, cement, paint, paneling, particleboard, plaster, plywood, reinforced concrete, insulation, insulation panels, spray-on insulation, concrete pipes, bricks and biodegradable plastic composites which are tougher than steel. In China, it has become the most popular fire in the bast textiles market, with 70% of total hemp grown used in textile industry.
Hemp Hurd, also known as hemp shive or shiv, is the short fibre (about 0.5 mm) found in the inner woody core of hemp stalks. Hurd accounts for 70-80% of the stalk. It can be used as a treefree, sustainable animal bedding, alternative green building material for such applications as hemp concrete, biodegradable garden mulch, lightweight board, acoustical ceiling and wall tiles, nonwood plastic filler and other innovative eco-friendly bioproducts.
At current levels of production, hemp fibre cannot economically compete with other waste fibres, such as straw or wood, to create certain products, such as biofuels and fiberboard. Rather, hemp’s value will likely be recognized first in technical products that demand specific fibre quality, such as replacing fiberglass in modern manufacturing.
The best fibre quality comes from hemp that has been produced as dedicated fibre and not allowed to produce seed. So–called dual use hemp crops, involving both fibre and grain harvested from the same crop, may be an attractive scenario for hemp oilseed/grain producers, but is should be recognized that the higher end fibre markets may be closed to them.