While the first full year of America’s federally restored domestic hemp industry began with U.S. farmers energized by enthusiasm for seemingly limitless commercial possibilities, by its end a host of practical realities had dampened many of their outlooks.
Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill the previous year motivated unprecedented cultivation: Nationwide, awarded licenses for hemp cultivation in 2019 surpassed a half-million acres (i.e., 200,000 hectares), or some 450% beyond total acreage in 2018. Unfortunately, many neophytes were stung by logistical barriers characterized by a lack of mature infrastructure (i.e., a lack of testing labs and processing facilities, etc.) which resulted in ruinous bottlenecks along the supply chain.
Other farmers found their crops afflicted by a more traditional nemesis: mold.
Though hemp is more resistant to pests and disease than other crops, it is not immune to them. Risks of mold are particularly keen for hemp cultivated solely for CBD extraction, since those plants’ cultivated buds can easily absorb and retain moisture. For example, in Oregon last year, a bout of late-season rainfall caused an outbreak of mold which resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of damage to crops.