North Dakota’s First Industrial Hemp Crop Harvested

North Dakota Hemp Harvest
Image: BigStock

The U.S. state of North Dakota’s first industrial hemp crop grown for many years saw mixed results in harvesting.

In August, an industrial hemp planting at the North Dakota State University Langdon Research Extension Center was devastated by unusually heavy rains. It was a huge disappointment given last year, the Center was able to grow a dozen varieties of the crop in a test.

However, this season hasn’t been a total wipeout for the nascent industry in the state as the four other growers appear to have fared better.

The Bismarck Tribune reports Clarence Laub recently harvested his 10-acre planting; which produced around 2.27 tonnes of hempseed. Other growers in the state are reporting 0.39 to just over .5 tonnes per acre.

“There’s a lot of promise in hemp and potentially big revenue for the farm as we get further into production and development,” said Mr. Laub; who planted his crop on June 1 at a rate of  30 and 35 pounds per acre (around 13 – 15 kilograms).

Growing of industrial hemp in North Dakota was again made possible by the passing of House Bill 1436 in 2015. The legislation changed existing law by removing the need for state-licensed growers to also be federally licensed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). HB 1436 also detailed the framework for a commercial hemp cultivation program.

This year is the first since the 1950s that hemp has been legally grown in the state. In the early 1900’s, the crop was grown extensively in North Dakota. The following image is from 1919.

North Dakota Industrial Hemp

The more modern resurgence of the crop dates back to 1997 (PDF), when  the North Dakota agricultural experiment station was granted permission to study the feasibility of industrial hemp production in the state. Various other hemp related laws were passed in North Dakota the ensuing years.

“The program’s primary goal is to increase our knowledge of how industrial hemp fits into the existing agriculture landscape and economy,” said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring when announcing the approved applicants in January this year.

Trivia : in 1919, hemp fibre fetched 5c to 16c per pound. It was promoted as a crop that was “very easy on the land”.