By LeeWEpstein

January 22, 2020


Arizona’s fledgling hemp industry is suffering from growing pains because high THC levels are forcing some farmers to destroy the crop instead of harvesting it.

About 41 % of Arizona hemp plants tested for THC. The compound that gives marijuana its high levels, failed, according to the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Plant Services Division, which oversees the program.

Growers in other states in the country have had problems managing the THC content of hemp plants. With crops in Hawaii and Nebraska also tested too high. But not as high as in the early months of Arizona, the Republic of Arizona reported.

Arizona began issuing hemp crop licenses to farmers in 2019 and harvesting began later in the year.

When legislators considered legalizing the cultivation of hemp. Supporters predicted that using the plant to create oil, rope and other CBD products would be an economic boom.

But producers face a challenge in crop management because hemp must be destroyed. Besides unharvested if the THC level is too high.

At 40%, it’s off the charts, said Sully Sullivan, executive director of the Arizona Hemp Industry Trade Association, about the state’s THC performance.It amazes me . It is substantial.

An official from the Plant Services Division had a more moderate assessment.

The failure rate is not a surprise. Based on anecdotal information from across the country about variable seed quality and gene expression for THC content between planted varieties. Said Associate Director John Caravetta in an e-mail.

Arizona farmers have begun having their hemp plants tested by the Department of Agriculture for THC content before harvest begins in late 2019.

Dustin Shill, a chief farmer of the Arizona Hemp Supply Co. Which owns 40 acres (16 hectares) in Yuma. Said although his plants have not yet been tested by the department, he is paid for weekly independent testing. His latest batch of 10 tests cost $12,000.

This is a high-risk business,” Shill said. Right now, it’s just a shot in the dark. It’s crazy.

Not spending the money on tests is too risky. He add, even if the cost of the tests reduces profits.

But if you don’t spend the money and you go in blind, you’re just rolling the dice. You have to know when to reap, Shill said.

THC and CBD go hand in hand,” he said. “When it goes up, the THC goes up, so it’s a fine line to determine when it’s ready.

Ryan Treacy, founder, and CEO of an Arizona lab that tests cannabis and hemp said several factors can contribute to test failure.

According to Treacy, just because a seed of a plant has worked in another part of the country doesn’t mean it will adapt well to Arizona’s hot, dry climate.

Stressed plants do crazy things,” he said, adding that the new environment can contribute to a plant having higher THC levels.

The state’s testing process may be another factor.

Despite the initial problems, Mr. Shill said he was convinced Arizona would one day be one of the best places to grow hemp in the country.

Arizona is going to dominate this market,” Shill said. It’s only after we get it all figured out.

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