What is Industrial Hemp?

Bamboo is a type of grass with a hard, woody, hollow stem. It is a perennial evergreen, meaning it grows every year and stays green year round. Hundreds of kinds grow in different regions of the world, and people have used them in everything from construction to medicine. Preferring well-watered, mildly acidic soil in most cases, it has significant cultural and religious connotations such as the need to remain morally straight.

Primary Uses

Virginia

What Farmers Need to Know:

Bamboo is a versatile, income producing crop. You can harvest and sell bamboo shoots in spring and early summer. You can cut and sell poles in summer or fall. When you cut the poles you can feed the tops to livestock. They will strip the poles of leaves. You can run poultry under the bamboo canopy. These birds will eat weeds and the small bamboo "grass" that comes up. Meanwhile their droppings fertilize the grove. Move them to a new section as they clear the ground.

Bamboo is a useful plant in addition to its income producing capabilities. It is a perennial. You don't have to replant it each year. It is evergreen and therefore photosynthesizes year around. It removes carbon dioxide from the air even in winter. It screens the farm from roads. It catches runoff from fields. To prevent the rivers in Georgia from running orange, zoning codes may require a 25 foot setback from streams. Plant bamboo as an income producing buffer between crops and waterways. Bamboo reduces erosion. It protects fields from wind; catches dust from field operations. Plant bamboo along swales to prevent gully washes. It is 10 degrees cooler in a bamboo grove than out in the summer sun. Bamboo thrives on summer moisture and is greedy for nutrients so it is an excellent crop on which to empty a manure lagoon in summer. As you thin out leaning canes or broken canes, run them through a shredder. The resulting mulch is excellent. It can be an additional farm product to sell by the truck load or bag.The easy answer is you can grow (temperate) bamboo as a farm crop in USDA Zones 7 and 8. Bamboo is a forest grass and as such likes humidity. It is not a prairie plant adapted to xeric conditions. Bamboo grows best with lots of rain in summer, less in winter. Think minimum of 30 inches per year. Bamboo (most bamboos) do not like saturated soils. They are not swamp plants. Grow bamboo where winters are mild and summers warm and moist. Bamboo is a grass. If your soil can grow corn, it can grow bamboo.only growers willing to install appropriate barriers to prevent unwanted spread or who produce containerized plants should consider pursuing any enterprise involving bamboo.

VA's Near & Longterm Outlook:

Farm and forestry exports from Virginia in 2015 were valued at $3.19 billion, 4.7 percent less than in 2014.

Industries that will Benefit the Most.

  • - Agriculture (farming, agro-forestry);
    - Energy (charcoal, ethanol, pellets, biomass);
    - Building products (flooring, architectural panels, trusses & joists, furniture, worktops, engineered building components);
    - Food and beverage (animal feedstock, bamboo shoots, beer);
    - Water and air purification (biochar, carbon sequestration);
    - Bio-plastics (alternative to petroleum-based plastics);
    - Transportation (automotive components);
    - Aerospace (aviation industry components); and
    - Specialty textiles (anti-bacterial applications for healthcare, bedding, clothing, towels, performance apparel).

National Status

Primary Regions?

The easy answer is you can grow (temperate) bamboo as a farm crop in USDA Zones 7 and 8. Bamboo is a forest grass and as such likes humidity. It is not a prairie plant adapted to xeric conditions. Bamboo grows best with lots of rain in summer, less in winter. Think minimum of 30 inches per year. Bamboo (most bamboos) do not like saturated soils. They are not swamp plants. Grow bamboo where winters are mild and summers warm and moist. Bamboo is a grass. If your soil can grow corn, it can grow bamboo.

the majority of the 1,450 species of bamboo in the world do originate in countries located in South and Southeastern Asia, with a few scattered species in Saharan Africa and the very farthest regions of South America.

The United States has three very distinct native species of bamboo, known collectively as river cane.

Crop History?

When the first Europeans set out to explore the New World, they encountered massive canebrakes so dense as to be nearly impenetrable. These natural obstacles had to be navigated around, sometimes for miles on end. The largest canebrakes were found along most of the larger rivers and streams, as well as the low-lying flood plains at their margins. Once a nuisance to explorers and settlers alike, river cane was quickly identified as a nutritious source of food for livestock and canebrakes as fertile farmland in the making.

Current Economics?

Building a Bamboo industry in the U.S. is the next logical step in our search for greener technologies and ways to lower our respective carbon footprint

Resource Fiber projects having 181 employees in Greene County in 2021 and expects each of those jobs to spawn another 2.5 jobs indirectly. Eventually, the company sees thousands of new jobs in the Black Belt due to bamboo growing and manufacturing.

The U.S. fuels the $60B global bamboo industry as the largest importer of bamboo products, but the U.S. is not currently capitalizing on this sustainable industry.  Resource Fiber is changing that by establishing the U.S. bamboo industry – from bamboo farming to product manufacturing – starting in the Alabama Black Belt Region, bringing long-term jobs and revitalization to the area.

Worldwide Status

Primary Regions?

Bamboo is a major non-wood forest product and wood substitute. It is found in all regions of the

world and plays an important economic and cultural role. Used for housing, crafts, pulp, paper, panels,boards, veneer, flooring, roofing, fabrics, oil, gas and charcoal (for fuel and as an excellent natural absorbent), it is also a healthy vegetable (the bamboo shoot). Bamboo industries are now thriving in Asia and are quickly spreading across the continents to Africa and America.

Crop History?

Bamboo is an ancient woody grass widely distributed in tropical, subtropical and mild temperate

zones. It is a major non-wood forest product. There are about 1 200 species of bamboo in some 90 genera. Bamboo taxonomy poses certain difficulties for science, owing to the plant’s often long flowering cycles, thus taxonomists still debate the total number of bamboo species and genera. Bamboo is an integral part of forestry, but it is also widely spread outside forests, including farmlands, riverbanks, roadsides and urban areas. It is quickly changing its image from the “poor man’s tree” to a high-tech, industrial raw material and substitute for wood. Bamboo is an increasingly important economic asset in poverty eradication and economic and environmental development. It has always played an important economic and cultural role across Asia. Now the use of bamboo is growing rapidly in Latin America and Africa as well. In some countries, the processing of bamboo is shifting from low-end crafts and utensils to high-end, value-added commodities such as laminated panels, boards, pulp, paper, mats, prefabricated houses, cloth and bamboo shoots. The rapid growth in the use of bamboo is bringing concern about the sustainability of global bamboo resources. Despite the successful bamboo trade, very little is known about the actual status and dynamics of the bamboo resource base. One of the first attempts to assess bamboo resources on a global scale was carried out by FAO and the United Nations Environment Programme as part of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 1980 (FRA 1980) – it covered 13 countries known to possess substantial bamboo resources.

Current Economics?

3.3 million farming families are somehow involved with the bamboo sub sector either as producers or users of bamboo based products. Bamboo has various advantages such as it has potential to create rural employment; it is environmentally friendly, cheap and abundant. Global bamboo economy is also estimated to be 14 billion dollars.

The bio-energy provided by bamboo opens the gateway for sub-Saharan African homes to use the green grass instead of firewood or charcoal, which promotes the discontinuation of deforestation, land degradation and indoor pollution.

Important Fiber Terms
Contact: