Growers in Alabama are now able to plant hemp seeds and be among the first in the Southeast to be a part of this budding industry. AgNet Media’s Randall Weiseman recently spoke with Hassey Brooks, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries’ deputy commissioner, about the new Alabama hemp pilot program.
According to Brooks, the department allowed growers to begin submitting license applications back in January, then it entered into license agreements with growers, processors and universities in April. A total of 157 growers, five universities and about 59 processors received licenses. “So, as of today (June 27) we have growers in the state that are planting their first hemp crop,” Brooks explained.
Since the crop is so new in the state, a big part of the pilot program will be figuring out how well hemp grows in Alabama and examining its production challenges. “We’re going to learn across the state about our different soil conditions and weather challenges that we face in the summer,” Brooks said. “(We will) see how this crop can handle Alabama humidity.”
Since the department has issued licenses to processors, the harvested crop will not have to cross state lines to be processed. Brooks is hopeful that the processing plants will be finished for the first Alabama hemp harvest.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture still has yet to collect and review state plans for an industrial hemp industry (http://vscnews.com/hemp-regulations-still-in-the-works/), but until then the Alabama industry will continue to grow. “We’re taking a good approach to this…and we hope that this can be an alternative crop to some producers,” Brooks said.
For now, Brooks is cautiously optimistic that the crop will be successful.
Hear Brooks’ full interview with Weiseman:
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