Hemp takes a foothold in grain, fiber in South Dakota’s first year

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South Dakota farmers are harvesting hemp on 1,600 acres in 2021, and state officials say they expect that number to grow in 2022.

Katie Sieverding, Executive Director of the state’s hemp program, said interest is strong as word about hemp travels the South Dakota farming grapevine in the first year of growing.

“What’s exciting is that people who planted it are getting a lot of interest from neighbor farmers,” Sieverding told radio station KXLG. “Everyone I talked to who planted this year plans to plant next year, and plans to plant more. I think we’re going to see a big increase for next year,” she added.

20 farmers licensed

Roughly 20 farmers were licensed to grow about 2,300 acres in 2021, but Sieverding said some of those licensees decided not to plant hemp in the first year and some fields were lost due to drought.

South Dakota hemp farmers shied away from CBD, overwhelmingly putting in grain and fiber crops, with most of the acres planted in the eastern half of the state. Only 35 acres were dedicated to CBD flower production, the state reported earlier this year.

Three processor licenses are known to have been granted for the eastern part of South Dakota, but officials have said the state still lacks a fiber processing facility.

Potential in food

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources said farmers see promise in producing hemp seed for food products.

South Dakota’s hemp program was established and received U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) clearance last year.

In signs of the growing interest in hemp, State Sen. Josh Klumb of Mt. Vernon put in a hemp crop last spring, and the first hemp farm within a city limit started operating in Fort Pierre; the site is being used primarily for research.

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