A Glimpse at Industrial Hemp Production in Wisconsin.

Mike Ballweg, Agriculture Agent

The passage of the USDA 2014 Farm Bill cleared the way for individual states across the country to develop Pilot Hemp Programs to grow industrial hemp for grain, fiber, and cannabidiol (CBD). Wisconsin is operating under its current hemp pilot program rules until October 31, 2020. The opportunity to grow industrial hemp, especially for CBD, has generated a huge amount of interest among entrepreneurs, unfortunately,  many of whom did not analyze the economics, nor had the experience for growing, harvesting, drying and processing the crop. Many hemp growers were unable to lock in a market for the crop they produced. Hemp seeds, clones, and planting are expensive. The crop is very labor-intensive with few labeled pesticides registered. Even more importantly the biomass prices for CBD extraction have collapsed in recent months, leaving growers without markets, and an unsold hemp crop with low prices. The markets for hemp grain are limited as are the processing facilities for hemp fiber. There are currently no hemp fiber processing facilities in Wisconsin.

Annual Hemp Registrations Issued in 2019 – DATCP 2/4/2020

Registered Acres and Locations

  • ≈ 16, 000 acres registered
  • 2,601 locations registered in 71 Counties

Planted Acres and Samples

  • ≈ 5,000 acres planted
  • ≈ 860 licensees planted hemp, had samples taken

Preliminary 2019 Harvest Data – As of 2/4/2020

  • ≈ 650 licensees reported that they harvested hemp
  • ≈ 3,930 of acres reported harvested
  • ≈ 98% reported as harvested for CBD/biomass
  • ≈ 688 acres report destroyed –greater than .03% THC
  • ≈ 3,521, 000 lbs. reported harvested
  • ≈ 6% of harvest reported as sold

Mike reports having talked with nearly 50 callers in the past year who were inquiring about growing industrial hemp.  An Extension, December 5, 2019, Hemp Workshop in De Pere was attended by nearly 400 people. Extension has developed a website of Hemp Production Resources that has been useful for those seeking information.  https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/hemp/

So you want to grow hemp?   The extension works with potential growers to address the key questions below.  Our goal in Extension is to help people make informed decisions.

  • Have you done a budget and profitability analysis?
  • I’ve heard that CBD prices have collapsed and it costs a lot to grow hemp: Do you have a reputable buyer with a contract?
  • Are you selling for CBD, seed or fiber? To whom and where?
  • Hemp seeds and clones are expensive: Be wary of fraud
  • Growing hemp is labor-intensive: Do you have a plan to recruit and manage labor? Do you have much experience managing a crew?
  • What equipment and tools do you plan on using?

The oversupply of U.S. hemp

  • CBD prices have collapsed
  • Prices down ~70% from spring
  • Price crashed as harvest started
  • Need an estimated 20,000 acres of hemp to satisfy the $4 billion CBD market*
  • Farmers harvested ~115,000 acres in 2019

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/robcannabispro/article-us-hemp-grossly-oversupplied-and-pressuring-cbd-prices/   2/1/2020

 

A field of industrial hemp for CBD production