CBD down, fiber up, as early signs show U.S. hemp harvest stabilized in 2023

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Early indicators show U.S. hemp farming likely remained flat in 2023, with roughly 19,500 acres having been harvested, according to a recently released Department of Agriculture estimate and trends over the past three years.

The latest indicator is in a report released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (USDA FSA), which said 22,248 acres of total hemp fields were planted across the U.S. in 2023.

USDA; *HempToday Estimates

In the analog FSA estimate from the year previous, the agency reported that 20,711 acres of hemp were planted in 2022. That number was raised by 27% to 28,314 acres in later, more detailed statistics from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) in April 2023.

Of those total final acres planted, NASS reported that 18,251 acres, or 64% of fields planted, were actually harvested in 2022.

Best guess

Applying the same formula to 2023, U.S. hemp farmers would appear to have planted roughly 30,000 acres and harvested approximately 19,500 last year, according to HempToday calculations.

Beyond the USDA numbers, analyst Hemp Benchmarks said its early research showed fiber hemp rebounded in 2023 to exceed 10,000 acres, up from the 6,850 acres reported by USDA in 2022. That would mean hemp fiber farmers surpassed those growing flowers to produce CBD and other cannabinoids for the first time since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp federally.

The analyst did not give a figure for hemp planted for cannabinoids, but said the subsector “saw another significant contraction in production in 2023.” According to the USDA, a total of 7,105 acres of flowers were harvested in 2022.

Acres farmed for grain, which hit 5,000 acres in 2022, were essentially flat in 2023, Hemp Benchmarks also reported.

Top performers

Hemp Benchmarks said the top three states for cannabinoid production in 2023 were Kentucky, Oregon, and California.

Montana, South Dakota, and Idaho were the top producers of both fiber and grain in 2023; the three states combined to account for nearly half of the country’s total fiber acreage, and three-fourths of the national total for grain, according to Hemp Benchmarks.

If the 2023 numbers crunched by HempToday pan out, it will mean that total hemp fields harvested have stabilized at roughly 20,000 acres after a massive fall-off from the peak year 2019, when crops were brought in from nearly 90,000 acres.

Beyond the bust

The early boom in hemp was led by flowers harvested for CBD, a market that was overhyped and fell far short of demand estimates, leaving farmers and investors burned as the biomass needed for production went unsold across the country, and prices plunged by as much as 90%.

The 2023 estimates come after fields harvested plunged by nearly 50% between 2021 and 2022, dropping to just 18,251 acres. American farmers harvested about 33,500 acres in 2021, the first year USDA officially recorded industrial hemp data.

The final 2023 USDA NASS data on hemp production will be released in April.


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