BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Department of Agriculture say early results for growing hemp look promising and the agency is seeking producers for the second year of planting.
The 70 acres planted this year were part of a pilot research project to determine whether the crop could be successful in North Dakota.
The department says producers gave positive feedback on yields and profitability, as well as the growing potential across a range of soil types. The fields may also be good for honey production, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
The program is accepting applications for 2017, but there's no $64,000 budget enhancement to cover lab testing fees, travel, public information and other operating expenses because it was left out of the governor's budget, program coordinator Rachel Seifert-Spilde said.
Seifert-Spilde said staff members will put in the extra hours to keep the program running without the extra funds. The department may go to the Legislature to request an increase in the program participation fee to cover the cost of testing for THC —the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana, she said.
Hemp can be used in products such as rope, paper and clothing, and crushing it produces oil for soaps and lotions. Production is limited, since federal drug law doesn't differentiate between hemp and marijuana. Only universities and state agriculture departments are able to conduct hemp research.
The agriculture department was registered as a hemp seed importer in 2015. Growers whose applications were approved were supplied with Canadian hemp varieties.
Profits per acre ranged from $507 to about $868 per acre in Benson County. Yields ranged from 895 pounds per acre to 1,266 pounds.