Hemp acreage in Nevada fell by nearly 70% from 2019-2020, dropping from nearly 5,000 acres to roughly 1,600 while the number of licensed hemp growers fell from 213 to 116, according to the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA).
Stakeholders in the state blamed an oversupply of CBD flowers that saw prices plummet drastically – in the USA and around the world, noting that a pound of hemp biomass that once sold for $22 to $25 is now going for less than one dollar, hemp flowers down from $350/lb. to $50/lb., and CBD isolate tumbling from $3,000/kg to $300/kg.
“There was a massive oversupply,” hemp farmer Adrienne Snow of Western States Hemp in Churchill County told Northern Nevada Business Weekly, suggesting early speculators who planted CBD in 2019 left behind unprocessed crops that remain unsold.
Nevada vegetable farmers and ranchers are also reported to have converted acreage to CBD hemp as a cash crop but were left holding their harvests when promised purchases didn’t materialize.
USDA approved Nevada’s hemp plan last May. Among provisions in the state’s program is a requirement for total THC testing at the NDA lab, which is registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Crops that test above the federal THC limit for hemp of 0.3% will be treated under new, less restrictive rules for disposal such as burning or composting.
Of 403 crops sampled in 2019, the NDA said 56 exceeded the 0.3 percent limit to be considered hemp; 28, or 6.5% of all crops tested expressed more than 0.5% THC.
$900 to grow
Grower application fees are $900, while fees for growers producing exclusively nursery stock are $725; indoor grows are licensed at $5 per acre.
Nevada issued 26 growing licenses in 2016, the state’s first year of growing hemp. By 2018 that number had jumped to 115, then nearly doubled to 261 in 2019, when total hemp fields more than quadrupled to reach 4,917, according to the NDA.
Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno Extension in Las Vegas are studying best practices for growing hemp, and which varieties will grow best in the desert state, looking at indoor versus outdoor cultivation and whether the plant can be grown as an alternative to other crops, such as cotton.