Survey: Farmers Challenged by Issues Beyond Hot Hemp in 2020

Hemp Benchmarks’ recent survey shows while only about 10% of farmers dealt with hot hemp, many were challenged by pests and other issues.

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December 9, 2020

Hemp Benchmarks surveyed hundreds of growers in 38 states and several foreign countries in November. The survey results found 90% of the hemp grown in 2020 was for cannabidiol (CBD) or cannabigerol (CBG). Additionally, more than half of growers cultivated small crops of 10 acres or less.

According to the survey, growers largely avoided problems with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, as only 9% exceeded the 0.3% federal legal threshold.

Growers did face other obstacles, though, including price volatility, according to the survey. However, Adam Koh, Hemp Benchmarks’ editorial director, tells Hemp Grower that this situation is improving. He adds that while a drop in biomass prices did occur after the 2019 harvest, those prices began to stabilize and rebound at the end of this year.

Growers also told Hemp Benchmarks they were surprised by the cost and labor involved with cultivating hemp. In part, Koh says this is due to many farmers’ reliance on manual harvesting and post-harvesting methods, which is more time-consuming and less efficient. Of those surveyed, 77% harvest their crops by hand, and 67% dry their crops by hand post-harvest.

The survey also found that nearly 60% of growers faced problems with pests, with weeds being the biggest concern. The survey found that one of the biggest surprises for growers is how susceptible their crops were to weeds. Growers also said that they faced weather-related problems, including high winds, drought, and fire and ash.

While the hemp industry has come a long way since legalization in 2018, it “still needs more tools and support on various levels,” Koh said. “Growing any crop is already a huge risk, and then doing it without the tools and support that are available to farmers of traditional crops makes it an even bigger risk.”

Koh added that despite growers having limited products available to fight pests, many are skeptical of genetics that addresses these issues. The survey showed that cultivators had questions, for example, about the consistency of genetically modified hemp seeds, including germination rates.