NIR spectroscopy for rapid measurement of moisture and cannabinoid contents of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa)

Kai Su, Elizabeth Maghirang, Jia Wen Tan, Ju Young Yoon, Paul Armstrong, Pradeep Kachroo, David Hildebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


With the legalization of industrial hemp in the United States, defined based on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) dry weight content of ≤ 0.3%, the market for various cannabinoids including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabichromene (CBC) have flourished. The current measurement methods such as ultra-high performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography (GC) require sophisticated instruments and trained personnel and are time-consuming. Therefore, there is a critical need for a rapid and reliable method to measure cannabinoids for regulatory compliance, determination of usage, and for quality control. Here, we report the use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) for rapid measurement of moisture content (MC) and cannabinoid contents of ground and whole hemp and rapid identification of legal from illegal industrial hemp. Good NIRS quantitative predictions were obtained for MC of ground and whole hemp, THC of ground hemp, CBD of ground and whole hemp, and CBC of whole hemp. Binary classification of industrial hemp as legal (≤0.3% THC) or illegal was performed using discriminant analysis and thresholding models. Discriminant calibration models developed showed correct classifications (CC) ranging from 93.0% to 94.0% with CC for independent validation at 83.9–87.5%. The concurrent multi-constituent predictions of MC and THC using NIRS allows for real-time adjustments of cannabinoid contents and rapid identification of legal or illegal hemp. These are important tools that will benefit the hemp industry, regulators, farmers, and consumers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115007
JournalIndustrial Crops and Products
StatePublished - Sep 15 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported and funded by the GenCanna Company, Winchester, KY, USA. The University Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and the USDA and NSF. We thank Huihua Ji and John Johnson at the University of Kentucky for assistance with GC analysis. We also thank Francis Agbali for his numerous contributions to this research and the student workers, Christine Invergo, Kaiqi Wang, and Olivia Sletto, for assistance in processing hemp and GC sample preparation. The mention of a trademark or proprietary product does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the product by the USDA and does not imply its approval for the exclusion of other products that may also be suitable. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Kai Su: Methodology, Investigation, Writing – original draft. Elizabeth Maghirang: Methodology, Investigation, Writing – original draft. Jia Wen Tan: Investigation. Ju Young Yoon: Investigation. Paul Armstrong: Writing – review & editing, Supervision. Pradeep Kachroo: Writing – review & editing, Resources. David Hildebrand. Writing – review & editing, Resources, Supervision, Project administration, Funding acquisition.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cannabis
  • CBD
  • CBG
  • CBN
  • Hemp
  • NIRS
  • THC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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