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Hemp Farmers Play the Rain Game
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 06/02/2023

Seedlings emerge from the no-till fields of Cedar Meadow Farm in Holtwood, Lancaster County, where Steve Groff has planted 50 acres of fiber hemp.

It’s that time of year again — time to get your hemp seeds in the ground.

On this week’s podcast, we check in with a handful of farmers (and one processor) to hear how things are going. What varieties are they planting, how much acreage, how’s the weather?

First we talk to Herb Grove, farmer and bison rancher in Center County, Pennsylvania, who said he’s looking to put in about 45 acres of grain hemp this year but hasn't planted yet because of the lack of rain.

“I don't think there's much hurry getting it in the ground. It ain't gonna do much till it gets some moisture. So we're going to play the rain game and hit it hard right before an estimated rain shower, I hope,” Grove said.

Lack of rain is also an issue for Katherine Dubansky at Backbone Farm in Garrett County, Maryland, where she grows produce as well as hemp for CBD.

“We decided to go on the real low side this year and grow 300 plants, which is the smallest number we've ever grown,” she said.

She started her seeds in the greenhouse about 10 days ago and expects to get into the field in another 10 days or so.

For Steve Groff in Lancaster County, the lack of precipitation is an issue, but it’s not as bad as it could be, thanks to his cover crops and no-till farming practices.

He direct-seeded 50 acres of fiber hemp the third week of May and has good emergence.

He said he was concerned that there might not be enough moisture to germinate the seeds.

“But I got to mention our regenerative agriculture methods, using cover crops and no-till, which is definitely in our favor. We're able to hold the moisture in that soil,” he said.

For Aaron Templin, operating partner at Dakota Hurd Company in Fargo, North Dakota, things are looking good.


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