Since 2013, Enecta, founded in the Netherlands by two young Italian entrepreneurs, has been active in the cannabis sector, producing CBD oil and capsules, pet oil, cannabidiol-based cosmetics, CBD crystals, CBG oil and crystals.
Since then, innovations and discoveries have been made through passionate research by the company's ever-expanding team.
Cannabis: what it is and what it is used for
Cannabis sativa is the premium variety selected by Enecta for its cultivation. Also known as sativa hemp, the plant has Asian origins. It was cultivated between western China and northern India, as it was considered a valuable food source due to its high fibre content and remarkable healing properties.
Its cultivation in Italy has been deeply rooted in the territory for centuries and was introduced by the Scythians in the 4th century BC, during the period of the Roman Empire. Cannabis sativa was cultivated mainly for textile use, to produce ropes and cloth, due to the high strength of its fibres. Even today, the sailing ship Amerigo Vespucci, owned by the Italian Navy, has canvases and ropes made from hemp.
Today, cannabis sativa is mainly cultivated for industrial uses in textiles and construction. However, there are also medicinal purposes: the plant has been shown to relieve pain, promote sleep and appetite.
There are numerous applications in the medical field: from the treatment of glaucoma to arthritis and rheumatism, as well as multiple sclerosis, asthma, anorexia, tumours, herpes, mycosis and inflammatory or respiratory disorders.
Enecta cultivations in Abruzzo
Enecta's fields are located in Abruzzo, Veneto and Emilia Romagna. In Abruzzo, in Castelvecchio Subequo (province of L'Aquila), Enecta has been working for five years with 'Green Valley', a partner company for cultivation that was founded in 2017. There are eight hectares under cultivation in Abruzzo. The fields prepared for cultivation follow the protocols of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).
All fields are free of chemicals and heavy metals. A great deal of attention and care is paid to the microclimate, planting density, fertigation regimes and general crop management characteristics that can influence plant growth.
According to the guidelines developed by Enecta for quality hemp cultivation, which have also been adopted by Federcanapa, hemp can be sown with a grain seeder, placing the seed at a maximum depth of two to three centimetres.
The best sowing time and density will vary according to the main product to be obtained and also according to the choice of variety.
For seed production, the optimal period is from early April to mid-May. On the contrary, late sowing may cause problems such as the need for emergency irrigation, excessive weed development and water stress.
«Here we use the technique of seedling transplanting, i.e. we sow the seeds in 'trays' of more or less eighty-four spaces», says Vincenzo Frittella, who works in the front line at Castelvecchio.
«We let the seedling's root system develop, a process that takes between 25 and 30 days to complete, and then we transplant the seedlings into the field».
In Abruzzo, transplanting takes place between the second half of May and the first half of June, while in Veneto it takes place in the first days of May due to the different temperatures.
Depending on the purpose, harvesting can begin in September or October. If biomass or seed are involved, it is preferable to start harvesting in mid-October.
«The aim is to grow hemp that is as natural as possible.The plant absorbs everything around it - the more natural the climate, the better the quality», says Frittella about the decision to sow in Abruzzo. The Subequana valley, where the hectares of land used to grow Enecta hemp are located, is in fact characterised by a considerable temperature fluctuation between day and night. «In order to survive, the plant needs to protect itself, so it produces more resin. The percentage of cannabidiol thus increases, facilitating the extraction of elements useful in the production of medicinal preparations».
But how is cultivation carried out? «Sowing, transplanting and harvesting are done by hand, as is the tradition. We have six permanent workers who cultivate and twenty-five who take care of harvesting». Machinery is only used to keep the land clean.
«In Veneto, because of the larger extensions, everything is mechanised and we use machinery such as transplanters and harvesting machines».
In addition, for some years now, together with CREA-CI, the Research Centre for Cereal and Industrial Crops of the Council for Agricultural Research and Analysis of Agricultural Economics, "Green Valley" has been developing a project on the optimisation of agronomic techniques for the cultivation of cannabis sativa.
The varieties grown in Abruzzo
The varieties grown in Abruzzo are Futura 75, Santhica 70 and Finola. Recently, however, Enecta has produced two new genetics that have entered the European Register.
One of the new hemp seeds from Enecta is called Enectaliana and has a CBD active ingredient content of between five and eight percent, which is considered medium-high. This variety is designed to give the maximum in active ingredients and has a high germination capacity.
It is particularly suitable for biomass, food and fibre production.
Enectarol, on the other hand, is the new genetic developed by Enecta with a high cannabigerol content of six percent. CBG has high therapeutic potential as it can be used as an antibacterial agent and in counteracting glaucoma, as well as in the treatment of various neurodegenerative diseases.
From Enectarol it will be possible to produce biomass, fibre and extractions for cosmetic and food purposes, due to the absence of chemical components.
Enectaliana and Enectarol have very high germination levels of ninety-seven percent and ninety-five percent respectively. The germination level is the ratio of the number of seeds planted compared to the number of plants that make it to harvest.
Both genetics are also pure, which means that they are not mixed with seeds of other varieties.
For each hectare of land, seven to ten thousand seeds are recommended.