If you want to grow hemp, start the process by working backwards, advises Dion Oakes, a farmer and co-owner at Wright-Oakes LLC, based near Pueblo, Colo.
“Find a buyer for your product first,” he advises.
Oakes has six years of experience growing hemp. In 2019, his family produced 2,500 acres of it.
He says the crop can be tricky to grow. “It is a strong plant but a weak seed,” he told a full house of prospective growers and industry leaders earlier Monday at the 2020 Hemp College in Chicago.
Corbett Hefner says he likes farmers to look at hemp as a good cash-rotation crop.
“If you’ve only got $10,000 to invest in this crop, don’t spend anymore than that,” says Hefner, vice president of research and development for Formation Ag. Furthermore, “If you can’t monetize the crop, you don’t want to grow it,” he adds.
The way Oakes says to look at starting out with hemp is, “Don’t grow more hemp than you are ok with plowing under.”
He lists what he calls the seven major factors starting out:
- • Seed—pricing, supplier and genetics
- • Location
- • Growing conditions
- • Labor availability
- • Market opportunities
- • Risk, financial and weather
- • Buyers
Farm Journal is hosting a number of Hemp Colleges this winter. You can learn more about upcoming programs and locations at www.agweb.com/events Check back often, as more events will be added during the coming weeks.