(HOI) — CBD oil has been a big trend lately and has been becoming more popular in stores.
With hemp becoming legal in 2019, many Heart of Illinois farmers are growing the crop to benefit from the high demand for CBD — cannabidiol.
Most people are unaware that marijuana and hemp are completely different.
Mark Meyer is growing hemp for the first time and he said it’s a learning experience for everyone.
“Some people are kind of frowning upon it. It’s an opportunity for small farmers and even large farmers to make more money per acre,” said Meyer.
Since becoming legal to grow in Illinois just this year,USDA reports show farmers are trying their hand at growing hemp. The grower must fill out an application with all of the GPS coordinates of each hemp plant on their property.
“Everything is ran through the state. I had to get a license before I could even buy any, order any, or do anything with it,” said Meyer.
Once the application is approved then the process of determining male from female plants begins.
“You can do buy what they call clones, which is what we did, and they are all female plants. So, then you go directly out to the field with plants. They start off a little better and you know you have a female plant. You want all female. If you have male plants they will pollinate the female flowers. You don’t want any seeds because the oil content will be higher,” said Meyer.
The next step is harvesting.
“Our plan is to come along and cut the plants at the bottom. We will load them up and hang them up to dry. They will have to dry until you get them down to approximately 10 percent moisture. When the plants get dry enough you will cut the buds off and we will send them to a processing plant. They will get the oil out of the buds. That’s where we make our money, from the amount of oil they get out of the plants,” Meyer said.
It’s easier said than done. After the harvest, the state comes in to check on regulations. One mistake and the entire investment is gone… literally.
“We have to let the state know when we think we will harvest within 30 days, and the state will come out and test the plants for THC. It has to be below that 0.3 percent or they can make you destroy the crop,” said Meyer.
The risk of losing their harvest is greater because hemp is a greater investment compared to other crops.
“It may take $400 to put in a corn crop where a hemp crop may take four to $5,000 an acre,” said Meyer.
Meyer is the third generation farmer, and when asked why “hemp?”.. he said: “We already do all the vegetables so it fit in with our program. I don’t have a lot of acres so any more diversified I can get the better,” said Meyer.
Hemp will be a positive for the community. With more demand means more jobs provided.
The outcome is yet to be determined, so we will check back in with Meyer during the fall to see how his harvest went.
“I wanted to get that first year under my belt as soon as I could and catch the market… You know like the early bird catches the worm… Well we’re trying to get in here at the beginning while the market is really good. I mean nobody really knows where this market is going to go.”