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Hundreds Expected for 2019 Industrial Hemp Field Day at Virginia State University

Glenn Rodes, Hemp Field in Shenandoah Valley
Glenn Rodes, Hemp Field in Shenandoah Valley

Hundreds are expected for Virginia State University’s Industrial Hemp Field Day to talk about the future of Virginia’s newest legal cousin to marijuana.

For the first time since it was banned in 1937, commercial hemp is growing in Virginia soil.

“Overall the crop looks good, not perfect, but we are very happy with how it looks.” Glenn Rodes is a Shenandoah Valley farmer and one of the participants in the field day, drawing growers and producers and dealers in what they all hope will be Virginia’s next big money crop.

“We encourage interested growers to start small." Erin Williams is there. She is a senior policy analyst at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “There is a lot where everybody is still learning about the plant, its response to Virginia soil and Virginia climate.”

The number of registered growers has jumped ten times since March, when the General Assembly, following changes in federal law, allowed almost anybody to register to grow industrial hemp.

“In 2018 we had about 80 registered growers, and then in July we had close to 900 registered growers,” said Williams.

“I farm with my family in the Shenandoah Valley, we have dairy, turkeys, cattle and crops, so hemp was kind of thing that was interesting because it’s new and has the potential to add a crop we can farm in our location,” added Rodes.

Commercial hemp fibers can be used in textiles or industrial processes. It can be used for grain. And the flowers are used for an extract known as CBD oil, that is now being widely sold and used to address aches and pains and even mental disorders. And even though much is unproven, the product has caught on.

“Our plan is to sell the seed into the food processing market and also sell the fiber itself into the fiber processing market, as those markets develop.”

It has taken over 80 years for Industrial Hemp to be legally grown again in Virginia, and now, “Our first industrial hemp crop produced commercially, is currently growing.”

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