Western Hemp Endangered By Early Winter

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill late last year kickstarted the hemp industry; however, the first seems to be filled with challenges starting with the incoming cold days. The incoming winter onslaught left no choice for the hemp farmers but to set harvest at an earlier date. Winter came earlier this year to the Western hemp farmers’ dismay. The early-season storm is predicted to bring frigid temperatures, severe wind chill and as much as fifty inches of snow onto the farmers’ fields. 

Scrambling To Harvest in Montana

According to Jamie Fitterer, owner of the Montana Hemp Co., farmers in Bozeman have already been started to harvest their crops for the year and then eventually ease into the drying stage. However, the news early winter storm changed shifted their focus to getting as much produce as possible out of the fields and into the dry areas in the shortest time possible.

In Ledger, hemp farmer Cary Kolstad immediately kickstarted his combine and went on to the fields to cut 150 acres of hemp at the news of the snowstorm. Although Kolstad is used to harvesting late September, he is still rushing to harvest his hemp to avoid his X59 from losing seeds to the snow. 

Hemp is considered to be a superior fiber material due to its durability and strength. Excessive moisture could result in the stalled growth of the crop or worse total crop failure. This is the reason why Montana hemp farmers are gathering volunteers to save their crops. However, with the storage houses already filled to the brim as the drying process is still yet to be staged, farmers have to suffice themselves with what they can only get. 

In contrast, another hemp farmer, Kim Phillips, sees the early snowstorm as an opportunity to conduct an experiment. Phillips, who is growing a variety of fiber in three-quarters of an acre, decided to leave out his crops and see how they will fare in the unrelenting cold. The hemp industry is a reasonably new one following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Hence, no one knows for sure what would freezing weather do to their crops. The early snowstorm can be a possible source of significant insights that could, later on, help in the growth of the industry. 

According to the National Weather Service, the reported snowstorm is predicted to be unforgiving, especially for Western Montana. The incoming snowstorm is set to break records this September with winds at 50 mph. Such speed can lead to blizzard-like conditions and a near-zero visibility environment. 

Managing the Difficulties of Low Temperature in Oregon

Matt Cyrus, president of the Deschutes County Farm Bureau, said that the forecasted lows in the 20s are what worries hemp farmers of Oregon. Farmers in Williamette Valley, in particular, are faced with severe problems of mold given the very wet season. The approaching low temperatures could hasten the crop disease issues due to additional moisture. 

Despite the forecasted cold days, the people of Oregon remain hopeful. Even if the snow falls, they hope that will only last for a few days and thus the following week will proceed as usual. Similar to the hemp farmers of Montana, worried hemp farmers from Oregon are also cutting much of their crop, in preparation for the storm. Oregon farmers recognize that each hemp variant has unique resistance to cold, so they are resolved to sit tight and see the storm through. 

The Growing Hemp Industry

A provision in the 2018 Farm Bill that was passed last December allowed farmers as well as cultivators to grow Cannabis Sativa L then sell them to processors that produce hemp-based products. Hemp-based products are a vast array that includes food, cosmetics, textile, paper, and even building materials. The passage of the bill opens up multiple job opportunities in the fields of agriculture, processing, manufacturing, and many other areas. Although still at its primacy, the industry is projected to reach $2.6 billion in revenues by 2022. 

As a still-budding industry, many aspects regarding the production and the processing of hemp are still unknown. However, nuances that are unique to this newly formed industry will undoubtedly be learned through time, making it even more promising.