From Seed to Shelf: An Inside Look at How Charlotte's Web Grows Top-Quality Hemp
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One thing that’s always top-of-mind at Charlotte’s Web: Developing high-quality, natural products that help customers live a healthy life. That’s why its employees are obsessed with quality at every step of the process—starting with the seeds all the way to the final product.
That commitment to quality started when seven brothers Joel, Jared, Jesse, Jon, Jordan, Josh, and Austin Stanley set out to develop hemp products for a young girl named Charlotte Figi who suffered from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. Before her untimely passing, Charlotte found relief using a hemp extract that was high in CBD. As word spread, the waitlist for the brothers’ extract grew to 15,000 names. And from this, a business was born. The siblings founded Charlotte’s Web in Colorado, in 2013.
With a mission to provide the benefits of plant-based products to as many people as possible, Charlotte’s Web has transformed into an incredibly well-known and trusted wellness brand with a growing lineup of hemp-derived CBD ingestible dietary supplements (tinctures, capsules, and gummies) and topical products (balm, gel, cream, and roll-ons) for people and pets. These products are sold online as well at more than 21,000 brick-and-mortar retail locations including grocery, natural food, pharmacy, and convenience stores.
Here's an inside look at how Charlotte’s Web grows the hemp it uses for its supplements and topicals, and how their commitment to quality informs the entire process.
Everything starts with a seed.
Charlotte’s Web is one of the few CBD manufacturers that is committed to growing their own hemp and using proprietary plant genetics to assure a consistent finished product. There’s no better way to control quality than to start at the very beginning. In this case, it’s the feminized hybrid seed that the team at Charlotte’s Web creates themselves.
“We realized early on that all CBD is not created equal and having a consistent product means having consistent hemp starting material,” says Bear Reel, Sr. Director Cultivation R&D at Charlotte's Web. “Since hemp cultivars can differ so greatly on the open market, having our own cultivation team with our own varieties and in-house seed production means that all of our hemp is grown with specific end products in mind.”
Having its own internal breeding program also means Charlotte’s Web can select traits that are important and specific to its workflow. Some of those traits include regional adaptation, drought and disease tolerance, and specific phytochemical attributes, Reel says.
Charlotte’s Web generates its seed in greenhouses where they can monitor the environment, control feral pollen, and harvest at the optimal time. “We use traditional breeding techniques and robust analysis to ensure our seeds and plants are consistent and reliable for our farmers and our products,” Reel explains.
From seed to soil.
Charlotte’s Web grows its hemp on their farm in Colorado, and also partners with small American family farms in Kentucky and Oregon. The company carefully selects the farms they work with for things like soil type, irrigation source, farming practices used, and organic certification status.
“These farmers use typical organic farming practices, such as pulling weeds by hand to avoid the use of toxic herbicides, and using crop rotation to optimize soil health,” says Jen Palmer, Charlotte’s Web’s Director of Education. “More than half of the farms are USDA Certified Organic, and the rest are close to completing the certification process.”
The seeds are typically planted sometime in June, depending on several factors such as growing region, weather, planting density, and hemp variety. Some hemp varieties are planted earlier than others, enabling Charlotte’s Web to stagger their harvest. “Each variety we grow is matched with the growing environment that will suit it best and yield the most,” Reel says. “Ultimately, it isn't just the location but the dedication and skills of the farmers that generate an exceptional hemp product.”
From there, everything from soil moisture to leaf tissue testing is closely monitored. Once the hemp is flowering, “constant monitoring of health, yield, aroma, flower maturity, and chemotypic analysis—like cannabinoids levels—are constantly monitored and tested,” Reel says.
Once harvested, the hemp is dried and sent to the company’s extraction facilities where it's turned into concentrated hemp extract. The extract is then formulated into Charlotte’s Web’s products. “We conduct a battery of quality control tests throughout the production cycle of our products,” says Eddie Palumbo, Senior R&D Scientist at Charlotte’s Web. We strictly adhere to the FDA's guidelines for dietary supplements, which ensures that the product we create is well characterized, consistent, and safe. There are many players within the CBD marketplace who are content with the minimal amount of testing—we are hoping to set the industry standard with our dedication to quality control and quality assurance.”
That dedication started with the mission the Stanley brothers put in place years ago. It continues today with the passion Charlotte’s Web employees have for the process of creating the best products possible. As Reel puts it, “Better seeds mean better plants, which create better products.”
Click here to learn more about Charlotte’s Web and its lineup of CBD ingestible dietary supplements and topical products.