Department of Agriculture is researching hemp as a viable cash crop for North Dakota

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One crop In North Dakota is doing quite well in the dry weather, but it still has some obstacles to overcome.

Clarence Laub is trying his luck at a new crop.

” A lot of the different commodities we were growing were going down, so I was looking for something new,” said  Clarence Laub, Elgin farmer.

He started with 10 acres of hemp last year as one of the state’s pilot producers.

“Prices have been good for hemp, better than some of our other existing crops,” said Rachel Seifert -Spilde, Plant Production Specialist, North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

So this year, he’s farming 240 acres, and on Friday  the department of agriculture, experts and residents visited his farm to learn more.

“We are looking into researching hemp just to try to find out if it is a new viable crop,”said Seifert -Spilde.

 The research shows that hemp handles drought conditions better than other crops in the region.

“I am suprised.  I have been talking to our growers and keep an eye on it. It is doing better than say somebody’s wheat crop,” said Seifert -Spilde.

Laub said one of the biggest obstacles is finding product for it.

“It is a new crop in North Dakota, and it is not recognized as a crop. Far as chemical wise, there are no chemicals that are labeled for it,” said Laub.

Pilot producers are allowed to harvest and sell their viable grains in state, but out-of-state is a completely different issue.”

“That viable harvested grain can be sold within North Dakota, It can be processed here in North Dakota then move out of state,” said Seifert -Spilde.

Once the seed is processed it is no longer viable for planting, and Jeff Kostuik who is a licensed seed seller out of Canada said there are still some skeptics when it comes to hemp.

” We call it the giggle factor. Someone drives by and say are you going to smoke your field later,” said Jeff Kostuik, Director of Operations Central Region, Hemp Production Service.

THC levels for hemp are considerably lower than marijuana, and Laub feels most of the work ahead is in education.

Being able to educate people. it is a wonderful crop. It’s very nutritious and healthy for you,” said Laub.

There are currently 34 pilot producers, plus North Dakota State University,  harvesting approximately 3,000 acres of hemp In North Dakota.

 

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