Proceeding with Caution in Hemp Industry

Brian German Field & Row Crops, Industry

hemp industry

Hemp production presents a lot of potential for California growers, but there are still several challenges facing the hemp industry.  The California State Board of Food and Agriculture (Board) recently heard a panel presentation highlighting some of the issues that might make farmers a bit apprehensive about including hemp in their operation.

“I think growers need to make sure that if they do grow, they better get a secure buyer in place that has processing facilities that can handle the crop they grow because it’s a new game out there and there’s a lot to learn,” said Don Cameron, Board President, and Vice President and General Manager at Terra Nova Ranch.

The relatively recent availability of hemp as a commercial crop has left supporting industries working diligently to catch up to the demand.  Along with being faced with inadequate infrastructure to support large scale production, the hemp industry is also challenged by a lack of crop protection materials.  Cameron noted that a minimal number of products are available, which is leaving some crops open to pest damage.

“I know in some areas, Heliothis (the worms) can be a real issue, they attack the buds,” said Cameron. “It’s going to be a real steep learning curve moving forward and I think there’s going to be winners and there’s going to be losers and it’d be great to have another competitive crop in the valley here and in the state and we’ll kind of see how it plays out in the future.”

Joshua Kress, Pest Exclusion Branch Chief for the Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services Division at CDFA, explained to the Board that there were 591 registrants for hemp in 32 different counties as of December 3.  While the data is incomplete as to how many acres of hemp have been planted, Kress said that more than 36,000 acres have been registered so far in California.

Listen to the report below.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West