AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The talk of growing hemp here in the panhandle is on the rise. One of the main reasons for this is it could be more profitable than other crops.
“The pricing is probably one of the biggest issues because our wheat is worth what it was in the 70′s, our cattle are worth pennies compared to what vehicles are worth today. $200,000 tractors were worth $20,000 when prices were like this. So you got to do something to try and do anything to get ahead a little bit, and you always got to stay a little bit ahead of the curve,” said Aaron Collins, a farmer from Oklahoma.
Although hemp has never been grown in the Panhandle before, farmers who have built it in similar climates say the harsh winds and cold have no impact on it.
“This is a very resilient plant. It doesn’t require a lot of water. Start clean and stay clean is the biggest issue. Keep the weeds out of it,” said Collins.
With the multiple ways this crop can be used, some farmers say they are not harvesting it for the CBD oils, but rather for industrial use.
“If you look at it from the food and the fiber side, its a long term play here in the whole industry. From a farmers' standpoint, when you look at the CBD genetics, it’s kind of all over the board with playing with their .3 range, which is federally legal. From an industrial standpoint, you have certified seed, and it’s a lot less risky for the farmer,” said Dion Oakes, a farmer from Colorado.
While there is much talk of harvesting hemp in our region, there are still stipulations that come with growing. For starters, to grow hemp in Texas is only partially legal.
“We are waiting for TDA to write our regulations for what the guidelines we’ll have to follow are for growing hemp. They’ll have to send those to the USDA for approval. And then, after that, you can apply for a license. It will be a very paperwork heavy crop. Similar to if you’ve applied for organic certification, that amount of paperwork is what you’re talking about. You’re going to have to do the GPS location of the crop, where it will be. You can’t increase that size. You can’t move it to a different location. You have to be in contact with TDA constantly. You’ll have to be testing, of course, for the THC levels all along and reporting those. So it’s going to be a kind of crop that you need to be thoughtful before you invest a lot of money,” said Tillery Sims, executive director of Texas Hemp Growers Association.
Experts say they expect USDA to approve regulations and for hemp growing licenses to be available come March.