Editors' Picks: The HG Team Selects Their Favorite Stories from 2021

Editors' Picks: The HG Team Selects Their Favorite Stories from 2021

We're reflecting on the articles we liked best this year.

Subscribe
December 23, 2021

Each year brings all sorts of new challenges and opportunities to the fledgling hemp industry, and this past year was no different. Here, the HG editors provide some thoughts on their favorite stories of 2021. 

 

Hemp is a diverse crop, and that’s not new news. This article illustrates how market saturation for cannabinoid hemp in 2019 led Minnesota farmers to shift their focus to grain in 2020. It’s also a reminder about the youthfulness of the federally legal industry. When the 2018 Farm Bill passed, the industrial craze throughout the U.S. was centered on the CBD market—the pot of gold many farmers were chasing in 2019. As U.S. farmers made the rush to meet the hyped demand of a $4.2-billion CBD retail market, prices for hemp biomass plunged, resulting in warehouses and barns full of unsold supply throughout the country. In Minnesota, 74.4% of hemp acres planted in 2019 were meant for CBD extraction. Responding the following year, Minnesotans shifted their focus to grain, 48% of acres planted, fiber, 9% of acres, and cannabigerol (CBG), 5% of acres.  

-Tony Lange, Associate Editor 

 

I liked this May 2021 cover story from Jodi Helmer, which takes a more conceptual route in place of our usual business profiles. Here, Jodi addresses perhaps the most serious issue facing hemp farmers: the out-of-whack supply and demand curves driving (or hampering) this industry. Oversupply is a major issue, and yet the answer to this problem is not so simple as just dialing back the size of your crop. Jodi talks to experts across the market and lands on six frameworks for thinking about supply on a micro and macro level. “All through my hemp career, I’ve been encouraging people to make sure that they have a home for their product, whether it is grain or fiber or CBD,” Jeff Kostuik, director of agronomy support for Hemp Genetics International and HPS Food and Ingredients says. “More producers are aware of that moving in. [Growers] aren’t just throwing in hemp because it’s cool and thinking, ‘hemp’s legalized, let’s plant it and then figure out what to do with it.’ Now, their thinking is, ‘OK, what are we going to do with it if we plant?’”  

-Eric Sandy, Digital Editor 

 

This cover story on emerging cannabinoids, including delta-8 THC, illustrates the lack of knowledge that exists about cannabinoids beyond delta-9 THC, CBD and more than a handful of other minor cannabinoids. (“When it comes to all the cannabinoids Cannabis sativa can produce, which [Dr. Ethan] Russo[, M.D.] puts near 150, he says the surface is barely scratched,” the article reads.) It highlights the vast potential as we begin to dig deeper beyond the surface, but also some of the dangers that go along with that widespread ignorance.  

-Noelle Skodzinski, Editorial Director

Adding to the supply chain infrastructure headaches of the hemp industry is the lack of laboratories with proper credentialing to test for THC potency. In this feature article reported by Patrick Williams in the April 2021 issue of Hemp Grower, growers and lab operators weigh in on the USDA final rule requirement for hemp plants to be tested by a DEA-registered lab by 2023. Currently 30 states have one or more DEA-registered lab. “Analytical testing has been one area that has been a real challenge for a lot of the processors and the growers because [it hasn’t] been very consistent,” said Garrett Bain, president of grower/processor EcoGen Biosciences. “I think the methodology has progressed significantly over the past several years, but we need to get to a point where we’re all working off the same playbook, where the methodology and the accreditations are standardized.”  

-Cassie Tomaselli, Contributing Editor 

Hemp Grower's March cover story features Puerto Rican farmer Luis Vega. Through battling Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis at a young age, Vega said he found cannabis when he was 16 years old. "It gave me back my quality of life. I knew then that it was my plant for the rest of my life," Vega said. What started as a passion for cannabis turned into a Connecticut-based farm-to-store hemp business, ¡WEPA! Farms. In 2019, Vega cashed out his 401(k) to "invest in myself." He purchased land and seed and became one of 109 growers awarded a Connecticut hemp cultivation license. Now, Vega manages 270 acres of hemp farmland and ¡WEPA! Farms works with growers and agricultural businesses across Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. - Associate Editor, Andriana Ruscitto 

 

Cheese or pepperoni? Frozen or on the rocks? Yankees or Red Sox? These are the types of debates that have raged on for longer than we’ve been alive. For hemp growers, a preference of seeds versus clones, or vice versa, can spark a dispute, but it doesn’t have to. Take a new partnership between The Hemp Mine, a vertically integrated South Carolina grower, and Davis Hemp Farms, a seed breeding and production company out of Oregon. “The goal,” associate editor Andriana Ruscitto writes, is to analyze seed lines and “identify plants that have a 35:1 cannabidiol (CBD) to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ratio, along with water resistance and field hardiness, desirable terpene or flavonoid profiles, and natural pest resistance.” The Hemp Mine pheno-hunted the plants that it germinated and transplanted from Davis Hemp Farms’ seeds—keeping in mind that a well-rounded plant is fit to be a good mother. What else will come out of the partnership remains to be seen, though the CEOs of both companies plan to continue working together in some way. 

-Patrick Williams, Managing Editor 

 

It’s hard to resist a good two-for-one deal. And while few U.S. farmers are taking advantage of hemp’s fullest potential to reap at least two different products from one harvest—mostly because of the many barriers that still exist to do so in the country—that doesn’t mean they can't start examining the possibility. In our July issue, Purdue researcher and regular HG columnist Marguerite Bolt outlines how growers can cultivate a dual-purpose hemp crop for grain and fiber to increase profits and reduce waste. While grain and fiber markets are still developing, along with the infrastructure to process them, Marguerite details recent advancements that have been made in both dual-purpose hemp genetics and processing infrastructure to make this model a reality. She also provides insights into the potential economic benefits of dual-purpose production and equipment that can be used to achieve it. Many growers utilize dual-purpose hemp production in Europe, where these markets are more developed, and I’m excited for it to start to take shape in our corner of the world.  

-Theresa Bennett, Editor