Tennessee hemp fields slashed after 2015 disaster

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Hemp growing that started with high hopes in Tennessee last year left most who farmed the crop disappointed, throwing a major wrench in the state’s nascent efforts to revive the crop.

With an April 1 deadline approaching, so far only about 12 farmers have applied to the state Dept. of Agriculture to grow hemp this year. In 2015, 48 farmers across the state planted about 1,600 acres, the Tennessee Hemp Industries Association (TNHIA) reported to HempToday last summer.

“We were planning to expand a lot this year, if everything would’ve went well, I would not have cared at all to plant 300 or 400 acres,” Chuck Mason of Happy Holler Hemp Farms in Parrottsville, TN, recently told WBIR TV, Knoxville.

Delays in delivery of seeds to Tennessee’s hemp program meant planting didn’t happen until last July, which Mason admitted was late. Those delays were caused by legal hangups at the Canadian/US border, TNHIA said at the time.

Weather also did not cooperate in Tennessee in 2015. The combination meant Johnson Grass overtook most of the Tennessee hemp fields planted, leading to disaster for the farmers, and a major blow to the TNHIA, which had pushed farmers to plant the crop.

“I’m just not willing to take that chance this year,” Mason said.

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