North Dakota farmers are harvesting their first legal hemp crops under the state Agricultural Department’s experimental program, according to a Bismarck Tribune report. Just five growers are approved under the pilot program, which aims to research the growth, cultivation and marketability of industrial hemp.
One farmer, Clarence Laub, yielded roughly 5,000 pounds from his 10-acre plot, but said only 5 acres were actually viable due to varied seed depths at planting and the timing of rain. His plants were grown from Canadian hemp seed provided under the state program.
“I harvested all of it, even through the open, weedy areas,” Laub said in the report. “If I had left those, I don’t think it would’ve made much difference in the yield.”
About 35 percent of Laub’s crops will be reduced to oil, and the rest will be ground for hemp flour. Both products will be sold at a local specialty store under the Laub Farm label.
According to Rachel Spilde, the director of the program, other producers have reported yields ranging from 860 pounds to 1,125 pounds per-acre, worth $1 per-pound. The input cost of the plant is $280 per-acre.
“That’s better than a lot of commodities right now,” she said. “Without a doubt, there was a lot of value in this program. There were some good yields and very few hiccups.”
The Agriculture Department will announce its research goals for the next round in October when new grower applications are due.
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