Letter from the Editor: Navigating the Industry's Unpredictable Future

Departments - From the Editor

Much like the weather, the nascent hemp industry can change in an instant. We're here to help you navigate it.

March 10, 2020

Yesterday, it was 53 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny. Tomorrow, it is expected to be 29 degrees Fahrenheit with snow.

I suppose I should be grateful for the mild winter, but I’ve lived in Ohio long enough to know spring weather could still be a ways off.

In many ways, that’s how I feel about the hemp industry’s full realization. We’re close enough to be excited but still far away from the actual promise.

I see you, ready and willing to roll up your sleeves, eager to learn all you can about hemp. But then some new obstacle arises.

I don’t have control of the weather any more than you do—nor do we have direct control of government regulations, hemp genetics or market demand and supply. These are realities we must deal with as an industry. But we can continue to make progress, and this issue is focused on moving forward.

For the cover story, reporter Paul Barbagallo spoke with the people behind the Hemp Mine, a vertically integrated hemp business based in South Carolina. As former ornamental farmers, they had to carve a niche in a crowded landscape. They’ve brought that same problem-solving approach to hemp by working within their constraints to affect change.

Associate Editor Theresa Bennett interviewed Win Phippen, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Agriculture at Western Illinois University, on his latest research project: tracking down feral hemp across Illinois. Phippen’s journey shows how resilient hemp is—and how much we have left to learn about the crop.

Similarly, columnist Marguerite Bolt, hemp extension specialist at Purdue University in the Department of Agronomy, explains that despite our limited knowledge, we do know it’s important to set up hemp for success. That means monitoring soil conditions, heavy metals and pathogens for a fertile harvest.

As the Hemp Mine co-owner M. Travis Higginbotham Jr. says in our Before You Go department, “2020 is going to be a truly defining year for hemp in the U.S. We don’t quite yet understand what the U.S. market is capable of.”

I do, however, know that we are capable of doing great things with hemp. Let’s dive in to improve the industry, together.