Hemp presents a tremendous amount of opportunity — and risk.
“While there are opportunities with genetics and developing strains, there are a lot of issues,” says Charles Wellso, co-founder of Sanitas Peak Financial.
Know Your Source
Dion Oakes, a farmer near Pueblo, Colo., and co-owner of San Luis Valley Hemp, says it’s key to know your genetics supplier. Oakes spent time developing a relationship and sharing his goals so his supplier knew the CBD percentage he was looking for and could help him achieve it.
Find Right Fit for Area
“Right now we’re using varieties from all over the world. Some of them fit in our locations and some of them don’t fit,” explains Robert Pearce, a professor with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and Food Environment.
Most of the varieties are coming from other countries where hemp has been legal for a longer time.
“We’re getting varieties out of Canada, varieties out of eastern and western Europe and maybe some varieties out of China,” Pearce says. “Right now the genetics are tightly controlled and university breeding programs are just getting started.”
Evaluate Stress Tolerance
”The plant hasn’t been established throughout the U.S., so it isn’t stress specialized to regions,” Wellso says.
There are currently no germplasm or genetics banks for hemp. How-ever, some programs are starting to look for disease resistance and other characteristics in naturally occurring populations.
Check Seed Viability
”Poor seed quality has also been an issue, and something we’re going to have to address,” Pearce adds.
Manage Seed Waste
“Hemp still carries the wild habit of dropping seeds as it matures — and that’s not economical if you want to harvest those seeds,” Pearce says. “Before the top of the plant matures, the bottom seeds are dropping.“
Bottom line: It’s going to take some time to address these obstacles to produce hemp fiber, grain and oil.
Interested in learning more about hemp? Join us at Hemp College. Find upcoming dates and locations at AgWeb.com/events/hemp-college