June is naturally an exciting time of the year. Summer is official, sunshine is abundant in most regions, and many plants are well on their way to becoming thriving crops.

But this June, an extra buzz of anticipation hangs in the air. In May, the CDC released the statement many have been waiting more than a year to hear: Those who have received their full COVID-19 vaccinations may resume normal activities without masks.

Though complete normalcy may still be a ways off, the lifted mask recommendation feels like a breakthrough. For many, it represents peace of mind—a signal that normalcy is indeed coming.

With a new sense of invigoration and a hankering for in-person interaction, I’m more eager than ever for the debut Hemp Grower Conference this Nov. 8-10, at Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Fla. The event, produced by Hemp Grower, will feature three days of education and expo, and will bring together cultivators, researchers, solutions providers and more.

At a time when a pause on in-person events has also meant a pause on education and networking, I’m proud to help kick off events again with our stellar education program, created with input from an advisory board of leading hemp growers and other experts. Whether you’re a novice grower or an expert cultivator, a small cannabinoid producer or a large-scale industrial hemp farmer, our more than 20 educational sessions offer something for everyone. To see the full agenda, visit hempgrowerconference.com.

Until then, there’s plenty of work to get done, including that looming harvest at the end of the season. This issue includes Part I of a two-part feature about hemp harvesting, where writer Jodi Helmer delves into what you need to know to plan ahead—including what to look for before harvest, what equipment you need to use, how to mechanize processes and more. Part II, running in our July issue, will cover drying and other post-harvest processes.

If you run into issues with your hemp leading up to harvest, check out the latest “From the Field” from columnist Marguerite Bolt, who details how to determine whether an abiotic or biotic factor is causing a stressor and how to diagnose the problem.

And on our cover this month is Jesse and Rachael Smedberg of Tulip Tree Gardens, a company based in Beecher, Ill., that grows, extracts and sells its own hemp products. Despite being a small company, Tulip Tree Gardens has an assortment of offerings for not only consumers, but also other small hemp businesses. In the cover story, they share lessons learned from their early days of cultivation as they have worked to regenerate the soil and build community.

With the first half of 2021 nearly behind us, there’s much to look forward to the rest of the year. We hope to not only be your guide through it, but also see you at the end of it at the Hemp Grower Conference.

Theresa Bennett tbennett@gie.net