By now, we’ve likely all heard of the purported thousands of uses that exist for hemp.
But as the industry matures, that potential for hemp starts to draw more questions—namely, how and when can we get there?
Despite numerous hemp-based items popping up seemingly every day, the industry still needs significant development, especially in the hemp fiber sector, to produce those products on a large scale.
In Kansas, the owners of South Bend Industrial Hemp (SBIH) are pushing for that industry development.
Fourth-generation farmers at SBIH and brothers Aaron and Richard Baldwin, along with Aaron’s wife, Melissa Nelson-Baldwin, decided to add on to their growing operations by opening the first hemp decortication facility in the state this June.
“The more people we talked to, we [knew there were] growers that want to grow and manufacturers that want to put in hemp lines, but there was nothing to connect those two pieces. So, we started crunching the numbers and [decided to] pursue our own processing facility,” Melissa Nelson-Baldwin explains.
On the growing side, the SBIH team uses traditional agriculture equipment to cultivate dual-purpose hemp, reaping both fiber and grain from the same plant. (Read the cover story for more on South Bend Industrial Hemp.)
It’s a practice that has immense potential for producers looking to advance the industry while still earning a decent profit. In this month’s “From the Field,” columnist Marguerite Bolt delves into what farmers need to know before pursuing a dual-crop production system, including challenges and economic considerations.
The hemp stalk and its fiber aren’t the only parts of the plant with the possibility to disrupt other industries, either. While hemp grain has been the subject for the bulk of the research regarding hemp’s place in the animal feed market, researchers at Oregon State University have begun exploring that potential for other parts of the plant: spent hemp biomass. In this month’s “Research Roundup,” Assistant Editor Andriana Ruscitto talks with the researchers about their studies on feeding several animals extracted hemp biomass, which includes both the stalk and the leaves.
With just two years since hemp’s legalization on a national level, it’s encouraging to see interest rising in the uses of hemp beyond cannabinoids. We’re hoping to build off that momentum at this year’s debut Hemp Grower Conference, Nov. 8-10 at Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Fla., where we’ll feature education sessions on fiber and grain crop establishment, the latest research in those sectors, and more. Check out the full conference agenda at hempgrowerconference.com.
The industry still has a long way to go, but recent advancements in the space make me confident we’ll get there.