Indiana farmers are harvesting thousands of acres of hemp for the first time in several decades. With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill and Indiana Senate Bill 516, a select group of licensed farmers were approved to grow and harvest a hemp crop in 2019 as part of a research trial.
One of those farmers is Mark Boyer of Converse in Miami County who planted 50 acres of hemp this spring for his edible oil business Healthy Hoosier Oil. Boyer is all finished with hemp harvest this year after a tough growing season.
“It was planted a month later than I would have liked to have had it out and the crop was very short…it did make grain and I was able to harvest that…so, it was semi-successful.”
Boyer says semi-successful because his research crop from 2018 yielded more than this year’s.
In addition to the wet spring keeping him from getting the crop in when he wanted, he also didn’t get the crop out when he would have liked.
“You’ve really got to go get this crop because it’s very prone to shatter. I probably did lose some yield, of course I got busy with cutting soybeans and kind of pushed the hemp harvest to the side just a little bit, and when I got out there to get it, we did have some shatter damage. That was real evident.”
At present, there is no approved herbicide for use on hemp. Boyer said weed pressure was especially bad this year.
“Ideally, you want that plant to get up ahead of the weeds and it’ll canopy. That canopy is the only thing you have to suppress weeds at this point. With the short stature of the crop this year it did not canopy. So, I had a lot of weed pressure. Harvesting was a pretty big challenge because of all that weed pressure. We’re at the point where we really, desperately, need a herbicide. It will come, it’s just going to take some time.”
Boyer says the moral of the story is there are a lot of challenges with growing industrial hemp from an agronomic standpoint and a financial one. He urges his fellow farmers to not put a seed in the ground until you’ve done your research, have a signed contract with a processor, and even then, don’t plant any more than what you can afford to lose.
Boyer is the Indiana Farm Bureau appointee on the newly formed Indiana Hemp Advisory Committee.
Source: Indiana Farm Bureau