Hemp Crop Climbing Higher

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson July 17, 2018 17:43


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I wrote about marijuana and industrial hemp about four years ago (http://titanoutletstore.com/cannabis-marijuana-and-industrial-hemp/) and learned a lot about this rapidly expanding crop.  Today, 36 states have legalized hemp cultivation to varying degrees, with the first commercial planting occurring in 2013 when Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin harvested a 55-acre crop – the first since its cultivation was banned by the federal government in 1957.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has introduced an amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill that would lift the federal ban on hemp cultivation, and this amendment has fairly wide bi-partisan support.  If it passes, the American hemp industry will quickly balloon and create a massive demand for farmers to plant the crop.  So if you’re thinking about adding hemp to your crop list, the first thing to do is ensure it’s legal in your area.

Here are some positives to growing hemp:

  • An annual plant, hemp grows well in most parts of the country other than in extreme desert conditions and high mountain areas.  It grows more vigorously than corn, but requires less water, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer.
  • The plant has over 25,000 known uses and is potentially an eco-friendly alternative for other crops commonly produced on an industrial scale.
  • The immense quantities of biomass that hemp produces are a potential raw material for livestock feed, biofuel production, paper and textiles.
  • The seeds and the oil produced from them have many culinary and industrial uses.
  • It’s even possible to make alternative building materials with the stalks such as hempcrete, which isolates more carbon from the atmosphere than the carbon emissions required to produce it.
  • One highly lucrative industry that hemp farmers are tapping into is the production of CBD oil, a medicinal compound in cannabis plants that contains no THC, making it legal to consume in all 50 states.
  • Hemp is an ideal plant for organic farmers because it requires minimal inputs, is fairly resistant to pests and diseases, and grows so fast and tall that it outcompetes weeds.
  • The market for certified organic hemp seeds (a popular health food) is especially strong.

And the biggest obstacles?:

  • You need a lot of land as this crop is suited for industrial applications.  In order to be profitable you need to plant at least 50 acres.
  • Because of its current legal nature, growers need special licenses from their state which means fees, paperwork, background checks, and plant testing for THC content.
  • Acceptable seed may be hard to find as growers are usually required to plant that which has been certified low-THC content.
  • Most commercially available farm equipment will handle hemp cultivation, though special modifications are often needed to prevent the bush plants from clogging machinery.  Special machinery is required to process hemp stalks for fiber, but growers may be able to contract with companies willing to accept the raw plant material for processing at a regional level.

And the $64,000 question:  Is growing hemp profitable?  This remains to be seen in the early stages of this market.  But a recent Cornell University analysis found that profits ranged from roughly $130 to $730 an acre which is comparable to most grain crops on the low end and high-value vegetable crops on the upper end.

Keep an eye on further developments as this could open up new opportunities for you.

-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team



Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson July 17, 2018 17:43
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