By Clint Thompson
Alabama’s hemp meetings this winter generated interest among returning growers and those hoping to produce the crop for the first time.
Katelyn Kesheimer, Auburn University assistant professor and Extension specialist, discussed the state of the industry, which attracted between 10 and 30 growers at five different meetings in January.
“We definitely have a much smaller but more dedicated group of growers. The ones that are in it are really sticking in it,” Kesheimer said. “We also had a lot of people that heard about it and wanted some more information before they got a license and started growing. That was really nice seeing people do research and seeing how it would fit in to their operation. We had a lot of good one-on-one discussions.”
Kesheimer expects acreage to stay comparable to last year. Farmers have reduced production in recent years, growing at least an acre each with some projected to produce as much as five to 10 acres.
“They’ve learned as we’ve learned it’s so hard and so labor intensive that the more acres you have, you’re just asking for problems,” Kesheimer said. “I think we have a very active group of about 75 growers in the state that grow each year. They stay in touch with us on the Extension side and the regulatory side. I think those people are committed and are going to continue to grow.
“We’ve had a lot more interest on the fiber side. A lot of people, if they have land or are looking to diversify their operation, (are thinking) what does it look like for growing fiber and is the infrastructure there? There’s a lot more questions this year than we’ve had in the past on different types of hemp.”
Click here to learn more about hemp production in Alabama.