What some may have thought would never happen again on American soil was happily taking place last week in Colorado, the harvesting of industrial hemp.
Voters in the state passed Amendment 64 back in 2012 that not only legalized the cultivation, possession and consumption of marijuana for recreational purposes, but it also broke the ban on growing hemp, which a handful of farmers like J.R. Knaub gladly took advantage of.
Knaub, 37, hoed two acres worth of rows in order to plant hemp on his farm this season, and says he’d like to do more in the future, but finding those magic beans to layout a larger crop may not be as easy as trading grocery money to a stranger on the way to the store.
“In an ideal world we’d grow between 1,500 and 2,000 acres of hemp next year”, Knaub affirmed. “But getting seed will be the biggest task we have to conquer.”
Thanks to our government’s antiquated federal policy regarding hemp cultivation, seeds are scarce, which in turn limits the acreage that farmers can utilize for the newly legalized crop.
In the spring of 2013, Colorado farmers registered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture to hoe approximately 1,600 acres of hemp.
But due to seed shortages, inexperience and poor germination, resulted in a mere 200 acres being harvested this fall.
And according to Zev Paiss of the Rocky Mountain Hemp Association, the viability of the seeds that were obtained played a vital role in the overall low plant count for this year.
“This year, because it was so hard to get seed, people were buying whatever they could get a hold of, and it wasn’t always the best seed,” Paiss explained. “Because of that, I’ve heard that the amount of germination farmers achieved varied widely.”
Well, it’s been a minute since this plant genus has was grown in this country, so it could take a growing season or two to iron out all the wrinkles in order to achieve some hearty harvests.
At least it can legally be grown again.