Wisconsin farmers learn how to grow healthy hemp for next growing season

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin farmers interested in growing hemp got to learn how to on Thursday.

At Memorial Florist and Greenhouse in Appleton, dozens of farmers learned about the opportunities in hemp farming for the 2019 growing season.

Colorado hemp experts "Front Range Biosciences" educated farmers on how to grow hemp successfully in the Badger State.

"The growers and the farmers here, given their deep agricultural experience and background in growing other crops, will set them up very well and be successful on that front," said Jon Vaught, CEO of Front Range Biosciences.

The discussion addressed the challenges of growing hemp, both logistically and financially.

"They need to know and understand the agronomics and they need to make sure there's a market, and that's what was answered here today, in terms of 'OK, if we grow this, the number one question is how we grow it, and then what are we going to do with it once we harvest it?' and I think some of those questions were answered,” said Rob Richard with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

Part of Thursday’s meeting covered the genetics of hemp.

"We're really happy to see companies like Front Range come in and start to look at it from a genetic standpoint, and trying to improve the genetics so that it's a more uniform crop, and it grows in a standard way for Wisconsin farmers," said Perry Brown, who grows hemp in Wisconsin for research purposes.

Experts say the meeting also helped them understand the needs of Wisconsin’s future hemp farmers.

"We also learned back from them what some of their questions and concerns are, and where there's going to be challenges as we try to scale up production of this new crop in Wisconsin," said Vaught.

Vaught says he wants to prevent Wisconsin hemp farmers from making mistakes when they first start growing.

"Mostly what we're trying to do is educate them on the pitfalls that we've seen first time industrial hemp growers fall into. There's a lot of excitement in the industry, and a lot of growth in the industrial hemp industry," he adds.

The 2018 growing season was the first year Wisconsin farmers could grow hemp on their land. Richard says the demand for hemp products have grown drastically in the country.

"There is a market, whether it's the CBD component, the grain component or fiber, there is a growing demand for it, people want it," says Richard.

Even though hemp isn't a miracle crop, farmers say it's still beneficial to grow.

"Wisconsin farmers aren't going to get rich on hemp, but I think it is another tool that we can add to our growing arsenal, it's another crop that we can add to our rotation,” said Brown.

"We're really blowing the doors off this thing in its first year, no state in the country has come close in terms of acreage or the applications that we see in the first year of the program, so that's exciting," says Richard.



 
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