The morphological and anatomical variability of the stems of an industrial hemp collection and the properties of its fibres

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Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is identified as a leading fibre crop and there is increasing interest in C. sativa fibre due to its new range of industrial applications. However, the complexity of hemp germplasm resulted in insufficient information on the effect of genotypes on fibre quality and quantity. In this study, 16 fibre and non-fibre type hemp genotypes were evaluated to compare the morpho-anatomical differences of stems and physico-mechanical fibre properties under three retting methods and to understand the effect of stem colour on the properties of hemp fibres. Morphological markers were scored and stem anatomy was examined using live and herbarium collections. Stems were retted using chemical, enzymatic, and microbiological methods. The resulting fibres were tested for tensile strength, moisture retention, colour, bast and hurd dry weights. Hemp genotypes showed morphological variations that affect fibre processing and a unique pattern of fibre wedges in cross-sections of the basal internode. Fibre yield, tensile strength, colour, and moisture retention significantly varied among the genotypes. The hemp collection used in this study formed three clusters in principal component analysis and traits such as internodal length, node number, hurd yield, and tensile strength highly contributed to the total variability. Additionally, non-fibre type hemp genotypes that showed important fibre properties were identified. The hemp genotypes that were selected based on our approaches can be tailored towards the specificities of the end-usage of choice. Our methods will enable the exploration of hemp genetic diversity pertaining to fibre properties and contribute to the preliminary identification of genotypes as a supplement to genetic analyses.



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