Many farmers jumped into hemp, with the expectation that they would quickly find riches. Now many of them are facing ruin after over-extending.
The glut of farmers jumping on the opportunity is crashing prices, and that is for the lucky few who were savvy enough to bring their plants to harvest. Many first time farmers sunk everything they had into their plants, only to see them fail to produce, according to the Northern Kentucky Tribune.
The estimate is that around 500,00 acres of hemp were licensed to plant this year in the U.S. It’s estimated that half of that never got planted this spring, and only about half of what did will end up being harvested.
Farmers were dealing with a crop that isn’t fully understood, along with bad streaks of weather, mold, disease, and pests.
In parts of the country, corn earworms took to the plant voraciously. With no pesticides to combat them, some desperate farmers went to the expense of hiring laborers to walk the rows, picking the leaves clean by hand.
Bipolaris leaf spot and Southern Blight also decimated crops in different parts of the country.
The pressure isn’t just on the farmers either, processors and dryers are having a hard time keeping up with demand and finding the money to keep their operations running. Some processors are scrambling to find the funds to pay the farmers they signed contracts with in the spring. This leaves even those with a seemingly secure contract hanging in the wind. Without a firm buyer, many farmers are having trouble finding a way to sell their crops.