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dir="ltr">Illinois farmers completed their first hemp harvest in recent history.
The passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 opened the door for legalized hemp production in all 50 states, with farmers in the Prairie State planting the crop within the past year.
Chris Berry, chief of operations for the Illinois Hemp Growers Association, said the harvest was what those who had a realistic perspective on cultivating hemp thought it would be.
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“A lot of farmers that started growing hemp were growing hemp as the first crop they’ve ever grown,” he said. “Even one that has experience in farming didn’t know what to expect.”
Some farmers did really well while others had a lot to learn, he said. He added that the harvest was a success from a numbers standpoint.
“Even if the yield were low, the amount of what was produced in the first year of the hemp production program was pretty impressive,” he said.
Hemp production was largely impossible as recently as half a decade ago when the substance was criminalized. Illinois joined several of its Midwestern neighbors in permitting its farmers to grow hemp following state regulations.
Illinois’ hemp harvest overwhelmed some farmers..
A number of farmers reported that they grew so much that they couldn’t harvest it all. Another problem in such a new industry is that farmers also have to figure out where to sell it, Berry said.
“It’s a blessing and a burden at the same time,” he said.
Berry said he projected that 1,000 pounds of cannabidiol, or CBD, biomass will bring in close to $70,000. He said luck was part of the surprise success of the inaugural season.
“This year, farmers got lucky because Illinois was so lenient with the process,” Berry said.