Farmers in Wisconsin, whether they focus on livestock and/or crops, are facing more challenges than ever before. Unpredictable weather patterns, unstable commodity prices, trade wars, and politics have made it difficult to turn a reliable profit every year. Diversification in production is key to keeping a farm alive and well, but it’s difficult to shift into a crop that requires investment to facilitate growth.
One potential solution is small scale hemp farming that adds an in-demand crop to the rotation without a lot of investment. Hemp farming is also an excellent cash crop for someone who wants to get involved in the CBD and commercial hemp industry, but doesn’t have the acreage or machinery for a large-scale operation. Here’s all the info you need to know when it comes to hemp farming in Wisconsin: this is hemp farming 101.
Growing Hemp 101: What You Need to Know About Hemp Farming in Wisconsin
Before going ahead and starting a small scale hemp farming operation in Wisconsin, you need to familiarize yourself with the state regulations regarding the growing of hemp. Even though it’s legal to grow hemp in Wisconsin, you need to follow the law in order to legally sell your crop.
Federal and state laws regarding hemp farming in WI
As of October 29, 2020, the Wisconsin Hemp Pilot Research Program was converted to the Hemp Program under the Hemp Emergency Rule. The change stems from Congressional action to give states the authority to operate their hemp pilot research programs until September 30, 2021, and to operate under the 2014 Farm Bill as opposed to the more restrictive 2018 Farm Bill.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection oversees WI hemp production
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) oversees the production of hemp plants for production and operates the Hemp Program. It also accepts applications for and issues licenses for producers who want to legally grow hemp. New applicants who have a felony conviction relating to a controlled substance under state or federal laws within the last 10 years will not be issued a license.
The DATCP approves the varieties of hemp that growers can obtain and cultivate and tests the flower of mature plants for THC content. In the event a crop tests over 0.3% total delta-9 THC, the DATCP will order you to destroy your hemp lot. If the lot tests above 1.0% total delta-9 THC, staff from DATCP will observe the destruction of your plants or destroy the hemp lot on your behalf and send a bill.
Hemp Farming 101: What You Need to Get Started
Wisconsin soil conditions are ideal for growing hemp as a crop. In fact, it was one of Wisconsin’s top crops before it was made illegal to grow by the federal government in 1937. However, the fact that almost 80 years have passed since hemp was grown means there is little-to-no existing cultural capital on the optimal cultivation for hemp.
Your first hemp crop might be tough – but keep persisting!
Many growers are finding that growing hemp has a strong trial-and-error component which can get expensive quickly. The internet makes it easier to find information, but aspiring hemp farmers have to be thorough in their research and be willing to make mistakes.
Know your hemp seed source!
One issue is the fact that hemp seeds, even if the strain is approved for growth by the DATCP, can sometimes contain too much THC and cause the loss of the crop. It can be costly to obtain the approved hemp seeds. So – it’s important to get your hemp seeds from a reliable source!
Consider soil and cultivation when starting a hemp farm
When it comes to soil conditions for hemp, it’s a similar situation to other crops in that the soil needs good drainage. Hemp plants require cultivation, which can be done by machinery, but a small scale hemp farming operation may prefer to save money in its first year and take care of the plants by hand.
Farming Hemp In Wisconsin Is a Viable Option
The challenges involved in starting up a hemp farming operation – while tough – are not insurmountable. A small crop and harvest can provide a good return on investment along with restoring the knowledge of growing hemp to the world at large.