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Hemp is All the Rage: The Growing Pains of Growing Hemp

Growing hemp went from being illegal and inefficient to encouraged and lucrative very rapidly. This makes hemp farming attractive to growers and farmers, of course, but it also means the industry is going through some serious growing pains.

Whether you’re already growing hemp or just considering diversifying into hemp or cannabis, you’ll need a plan for how you’ll address these “growing pains” in order to be successful. Agrian wants to help you make that plan and help you execute. Here’s everything you need to know about why growing hemp is a good idea, why it can be so challenging even today, and how Agrian can help make your addition of hemp as painless as possible.

How growing hemp had a resurgence

Hemp farming was federally prohibited in one form or another from 1937 until the passage of the 2018 farm bill. During this time, several natural and synthetic sources replaced it as effective industrial processed fibers. After prominent research found that ingesting or topically applying hemp oils may have a variety of therapeutic effects, however, a whole new market for hemp and its derivatives emerged very quickly.

Obviously, this suddenly made growing hemp commercially a very attractive proposition. As mentioned, some industry experts say that more than 25,000 products can be produced with different hemp varieties. Hemp can be used in everything from construction materials to cannabidiol (CBD) products used to treat various ailments and improve wellbeing.

The Ongoing Challenges of Growing Hemp

“The department of agriculture’s recognition of hemp as an agricultural crop allows it to be eligible for federal monetary support within the scope of federally-based crop insurance programs and research-based funding,” explains Joan Vernon, Global Regulatory Affairs Manager, Agrian. “However, this does not mean that hemp cultivation is all systems go. There are still challenges that are being addressed.”

As Joan Vernon explains, growing hemp can be an exciting and lucrative opportunity, but hemp can be a difficult industry to break into unless you’ve done your research first. We want to help with that. Here are the main challenges you’ll face growing hemp, and how Agrian can help you address each of them.

Challenge #1: Hemp vs. Marijuana & THC Content Tests

For example, while hemp farming is now legal in all states, growing cannabis is still prohibited by most. Obviously, it’s very important to differentiate between the two crops. That can be surprisingly difficult.

A hemp plant and marijuana plant bear such a close resemblance in stature and nature of cultivation that THC content tests are required prior to harvest to determine whether a crop is “true hemp” or “cannabis/marijuana.” If tests come back in excess of 0.3% THC, the hemp crop will be considered cannabis and you’ll have to destroy it. This has created a challenge for growers, who have to source hemp seeds for growing that meet the 0.3% or less THC threshold, sometimes called “true hemp” seeds and provide certainty to farmers that their hemp seeds won’t grow a hemp crop that has to be destroyed, ruining profits.

How Agrian Can Help

Agrian can help growers source hemp seeds for growing that are guaranteed to pass the THC Content tests. All growers need to do is use Agrian’s united ag software functionalities to locate and source the right hemp seeds for their customers.

As the hemp cultivation industry grows, more and more manufacturers and wholesalers are indicating true hemp TCH value of seeds during the growing and harvesting process. Agrian can find and surface this information at the touch of a button, so growers always know exactly how much TCH the hemp crop they’re sourcing will have.

Challenge #2: Limited EPA Approved Pesticides For Hemp

“Another limiting factor is that true hemp has not been commercially cultivated since the 1950s,” Vernon adds, “Since then, conventional pesticide and EPA regulations and pesticide residue tolerances have been established without consideration of hemp crop tolerance levels, whether for dermal or consumptive use. This means that there are very few EPA-approved pesticides for hemp.”

Many U.S. states that are supportive of hemp and even cannabis cultivation have created their own lists of pesticides that are allowable for application on the crop within their respective jurisdictions. These include adjuvants, crop protection tools, biological-based pesticides, and those pesticides that are exempt from EPA residue tolerances, referred to as 25(b) products.

How Agrian Can Help: Finding Products Approved For Hemp

“The pesticide availability challenge is slowly being resolved at the Federal level within the registrant community and at the EPA,” Vernon says. “Agrian is here to assist with the process by displaying the labels and making them searchable and available for viewing through the Agrian Label Center.”

The process of finding the right products for hemp on Agrian’s Label Center is easy: “Each pesticide, adjuvant and nutrient manufacturer/registrant that offers labels for display in the Agrian Label Database have the opportunity and direct say-so to display the scope of intended use for their products,” Vernon says, “Throughout 2019, Agrian has seen many manufacturer/registrants add hemp cultivation and/or cannabis cultivation uses to their list of allowed commodities.” In other words, the manufacturers and registrants actually tell you if you can use their product for growing hemp. You just need to access that information in the Label Center. Luckily, Agrian makes that as easy as possible:

How to use the Agrian Label Center to find EPA-approved pesticides & other products for hemp and cannabis

To find products where manufacturers/registrants have allowed their products to use on hemp or cannabis, search the free Agrian Label Center as you would any other crop or commodity. Note, the commodity search term “Hemp” is used to describe the commodity recognized in the 2018 Farm Bill. “Cannabis” is used to describe a recreational or medicinal use of the commodity. While the Federal government does not recognize the legal cultivation of cannabis as a commodity, some states do allow for the production of the plant variety that exceeds the 0.3% THC content.

How to write recommendations for hemp or cannabis in AGRIAN®

To write a recommendation for hemp or cannabis, first establish which cropping type is taking place in the field or greenhouse. Once that is identified, set up the commodity in the system under the Manage Data tool. Hemp or cannabis commodities are available for selection for users in all states, whether it be in California—with a pesticide permit with the newly split commodity codes of “industrial hemp” or “cannabis”—or outside of California where regulations vary. Be sure to check with your state and local rules prior to planting and/or crop protection application as they can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Proceed to the Recommendation writing interface, select your growing site, and proceed through the steps of recommendation writing, choosing the products of your choice. If no commodities show up in the drop-down menu for commodities, it could mean one of two things: 1) the product is not registered for use on that cannabis or hemp crop, or 2) state or local organizations have deemed the use appropriate for hemp crop and/or cannabis but the manufacturer has chosen to not display this use in the Agrian system.

Agrian is here to help with hemp farming, start to finish

To search a label in Agrian, simply go to Agrian’s Label Lookup tool online now. If you cannot find products that are allowed for use on hemp or cannabis in the Agrian Label Center, contact Agrian’s Regulatory Department directly at or call 559-437-5700. Agrian’s Regulatory department will contact the manufacturer to confirm their position regarding hemp or cannabis label use.

The hemp cultivation industry is growing rapidly. With any rapid growth come growing pains like the idiosyncratic challenges we’ve described here. Don’t let these challenges discourage you! If you have the right knowhow and tools, growing hemp is a great way to expand your crop base and achieve a new vector of profitability.

Agrian is here to provide both the knowhow and the tools you’ll need. If you have any questions or want to get started, get in touch today. We’ll make sure your hemp business grows safely and profitably.

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