Hemp harvest is under way in Alabama, but quality may not be what farmers had hoped for in their second year of production.
It’s understandable, though, considering the challenges that producers dealt with during the growing season, says Katelyn Kesheimer, Auburn University Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist.
“It’s not fantastic. I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of good quality hemp out there, just between disease, insects and rain and late plantings. I fear that we’re not going to have the quality that a lot had hoped for,” Kesheimer said. “I’ve gotten calls from buyers that are looking for smokable flower grade hemp and they can’t find enough. Folks from Georgia are looking in Alabama and I was like ‘eh’; a lot of it is going to be harvested and extracted but the flower, and quality just isn’t there that I think a lot of the buyers are looking for.”
Kesheimer said the price of CBD oil has dropped significantly, which doesn’t make it economically feasible to extract the oil and then sell. This has forced buyers to consider other options.
Tough Growing Season
Hot and dry conditions highlighted last year’s production season. But it’s been much different this year with the wet environment the hemp has grown in. It’s led to countless battles with plant diseases. Ant swarms were also problematic throughout the season.
“The price of CBD oil has gone down so much and it’s going to cost you to extract that oil and it’s not always economically feasible to pay someone to get the oil out of that plant and then sell it. You can’t afford it. You’re not going to make a profit,” Kesheimer said. “The other option is large quantities of high grade smokable flower, but it can’t be full of bud rot or have caterpillar damage or any other disease. I think some of the large groves didn’t end up with the great quality that some buyers are looking for, and then there are some people that will process it but they won’t buy your end product. We’ve been talking about this for a year but the supply chain, it’s not there yet.”