A few Oklahoma farmers are harvesting the state's first industrial hemp crops since World War II. Governor Mary Fallin legalized the plant with an emergency order in April, and now one Guthrie farm aims to use their plants to help others.
In a year full of legislative debate, one issue had almost all lawmakers in agreement. There was only one no vote before the governor signed industrial hemp into law.
Representative Mickey Dollens (D-Oklahoma City) says, “There are thousands of different uses for this, and from that comes new small businesses and sales tax, which helps our economy grow.”
Herb's Herbs celebrate their first hemp harvest Thursday afternoon by inviting News 9 into their Guthrie greenhouse of 4,000 plants, but success did not come without some growing pains.
As part of the state's pilot program, Herb's Herbs is working with Langston University to study the best practices for growing before the plant goes mainstream. Co-owner Jesse Tischauser admits their initial yield was not ideal. He says, “You spread 10,000 seeds, or $5,000 worth of seed on your field and only get 30%, that’s not going to make a lot of farmers happy.”
The Guthrie group has improved its product over the months, but is still developing ways to produce more hemp per plant. The purpose of this first harvest is not commercial use. Instead, Herb’s Herbs just wants to educate other farmers who are interested in joining the industry.
“As a business, what we hope to do is be able to supply farmers with starter plants, seedlings, clones and eventually seed,” explains Tischauser.
Farmers have about five months before the next crops are planted, so now is the time to ask questions.
“What they’re trying to do is find a rotational crop that will go in between their winter wheat,” Tischauser says, “and the beauty of hemp is it actually helps rejuvenate the soil.”
Next year, you can expect to see much more from this budding industry. Herb's Herbs is also planning to get into the medical marijuana industry once they perfect their hemp formula.