hemp research

Squaring Off Against the Unknown, California Hemp Grower Bets Big

Brian German Field & Row Crops, Industry

Many are expecting the California hemp industry to make significant strides over the next couple of years.  However, there are many questions surrounding the industry as it pertains to permitting allowances, production practices, and seed varieties.  Despite the uncertainty inherent in a new industry, there are still some growers willing to take that big first step in what could become a substantial crop in California.

California hemp“The unknown, or the uncertainty of it is always a little bit unnerving, but we’ve done a ton of homework on the cultural side, the genotype side, the political side,” said Donald Collins, President of SoCal Farms. “But any unknown from a government agency is kind of tough to live with.”

SoCal Farms was formed by a coalition of farmers excited for the California hemp industry to develop, planting 100 certified acres of organic hemp in Los Angeles County with aims to expand further.  As the first operation of its kind in the area, the farm will be exploring a new agricultural frontier.  While some farming aspects may transfer over to hemp, such as irrigation techniques and equipment needs, Collins highlighted a comparatively limited amount of knowledge for hemp production as being another obstacle to overcome.

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“We’re in the very beginnings of this.  We are at the point where it’s hardest to identify what genotype to use.  We think we’ve done that over the last two years working with seed production and seed testing, but that is a big concern of ours,” Collins noted.  “We have what we have, and we have to make the best out of it.”

The farming group has an extensive and well-rounded collection of experience in the agriculture industry.  Still, Collins noted there is going to be a learning curve with establishing a successful crop. Much of the information available on hemp production is based on data collected through indoor production in a controlled environment, which is drastically different from traditional outdoor farming.  “We’re at the mercy of the weather, mercy of the pests, mercy of pathogens, bacteria.  So, there’s going to be a lot of things to be learned throughout the first few years of this process,” said Collins.

Listen to Collins’ interview below.

About the Author
Brian German

Brian German

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Multi-media Journalist for AgNet West