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First legal U.S. hemp harvest underway

First legal U.S. hemp harvest underway

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 treats hemp like other ag commodities

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Alongside their more traditional grains and other crops, American farmers are harvesting a new crop this year.

Some growers are in the midst of the first legal hemp harvest.

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018, a piece of legislation found in the 2018 Farm Bill, removed hemp from Schedule I controlled substances, allowing farmers to produce it the same way they would any other grain crop without any legal issues as long as they have a permit.

Hemp is any cannabis plant with less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Any plants exceeding that amount are considered marijuana.

To grow hemp, however, producers needed permits from state ag departments.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, for example, issued 572 grower permits for more than 32,000 acres of commercial hemp.

Those individuals who received a permit are pleased with how the harvest is coming along.

“We started off with a really rainy season which put the crop behind the eight ball,” John Freeman, a grower and president of the Industrial Hemp Industry of Michigan, told Farms.com. “But we’ve got thousands and thousands of pounds of the crop right now.”

How the crop is harvested depends on the plant’s end use.

“People are harvesting for different things,” he said. “If you just want the seed, then you can use a combine but, if you want the flowers, then you might want to consider harvesting by hand.”

Farmers in Kansas are also harvesting their first hemp crops.

The state ag department licensed 260 grower permits for more than 2,300 acres across 57 counties.

Harvesting the plant in a timely manner is important to meet the legalities associated with it.

“We’re on a 10-day time schedule,” J. Bradley, a producer with Heartland Hemp Farm in Leavenworth, Kan., told KSHB on Oct 3. “We don’t want to be over the THC threshold, so we just cut it down.”

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