As the Green Rush buds in agriculture, it’s critical to know the truth about the opportunities and risks around hemp. Here’s a quick look at facts behind the fiction.
Myth 1: Hemp will grow itself.
“It will grow, and a lot of people will point to the ditchweed and say, ‘See there, it does just fine.’ But nobody’s trying to make a living off that ditchweed,” says Bob Pearce, a professor with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “This is something we’re trying to make economically feasible on a large scale, and it’s going to take some management to be successful.”
Myth 2: Hemp thrives on marginal soil. We don’t need to use our good crop land.
“If you want a good economic return, it needs to be on better land,” Pearce says. “Yes, it will grow on marginal land, but it will not grow and produce a profit.”
Myth 3: It does not require a lot of fertilizer.
“It does require some fertilizer if you want those economical yields,” Pearce explains. Studies are underway to determine the specific fertilizer needs for hemp production.
Myth 4: There are no pests of hemp.
Not true, says Charles Wellso, the co-founder of Sanitas Peak Financial and an entrepreneur with investment experience in the hemp space.
“I always like to say that until the picnic’s out the ants won’t come, right?” he says.
This crop has a tremendous amount of protein in the ground. So yes, there are pests.
“We’ve already identified a number of diseases and insect pests on hemp here in Kentucky,” Pearce says. Currently there are no federally labeled pesticides.
Myth 5: There’s limitless financial potential.
One of the biggest risks of the hemp marketplace is its newness.
“I’ve seen a lot of people coming into hemp from the pot space. And there I saw the dark market, something we’re not familiar with, something that takes caution,” Wellso says.
The biggest warning sign, Wellso says, is for people in a state just starting to grow hemp. “I would be cautious if you’re starting a new hemp state and somebody comes trying to sell something to you,” he says.
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