Georgia’s hemp production is expected to decrease in 2021. Tim Coolong, associate professor in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, believes there are various factors that will contribute to hemp acreage being down compared to last season.
“I think a lot of growers are going more towards, kind of, I’ll say smokable flower. It’s more of a boutique product,” Coolong said. “The flower bud that you’re selling has to have a great appearance; has to have a good smell. In order to do those kinds of products, it’s very hard to do large acreage. It’s very labor intensive. You’re going to be more apt to see people just doing a few acres of that type of market.”
Then there’s overproduction and the impact last year’s oversupply had on market prices.
“You can actually produce quite a bit of CBD from one acre of hemp. When you have hundreds or thousands of hemp planted, that actually equates to a lot of CBD isolates. I think like many things, farmers overproduced,” Coolong said. “We’re very good at growing stuff. We’re excellent at growing a lot of high-yielding crops. I do think we overproduced so people want to cut back to let the market catch up.
“Just like a lot of other veggie crops, if we cut back on acreage a little bit, it’d probably increase the prices.”
Mike Evans, director of plant industries who oversees the hemp program at the Georgia Department of Agriculture, said there were 144 licenses issued in 2020 with 1,450 acres intended for hemp production and 186 greenhouses.
As of mid-March, Coolong said there were about 90 growers who had received licenses to grow hemp in 2021.