Georgia’s first year of commercial hemp production was a success, though, there were some growers who had plants that exceeded the 0.3 THC level required for crop production.
Mike Evans, director of plant industries who oversees the hemp program at the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA), expects a big change next year to come with more frequent testing from the growers throughout the summer.
“One thing I think the growers are looking at, they’re going to do more testing of their crop as the crop progresses and starts getting closer to maturity. Unfortunately, we had 17 disposal orders, where the hemp had been tested and found over the limit,” Evans said. “The retest said the same thing, so that cannabis needed to be disposed of. That was 11 growers, but that was a lower percentage than what several other states had their first year.
“A lot of the growers said they’re going to be testing more frequently.”
Evans said there 144 licenses issued in 2020 with 1,450 acres intended for hemp production and 186 greenhouses.
“Talking with the growers, and I didn’t talk with everyone but a fair number, several of them were planting small acres. There were a lot of one to two acre plots. There were some others that had larger. But a lot of them were of the mindset, ‘I want to figure out how to do this in 2020, and then I’ll decide what I want to do after the season,’” Evans said.
Renewal applications are being accepted now from farmers who grew hemp this year and are interested in producing it again in 2021. The deadline to renew a current license is Dec. 1. The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) will begin accepting new applications for 2021 in January.
“Overall, I think the first year was successful. From our perspective, we were able to issue licenses, and the growers were able to get the licenses and they were able to get a crop in the ground,” Evans said.
According to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, under the authority of the Georgia Hemp Farming Act, the GDA is authorized to regulate the cultivation and processing of hemp in the State of Georgia.