Many of the dreams that new farmers had this spring did not come true. Many novice farmers were unable to tackle all of the unforeseen circumstances that growing the crop would yield. As the realization of this loss from mold and other issues came to bear, it sometimes proved too much. At least four suicides were committed this year after their hemp dreams crumbled.
“I think it’s a wakeup call, and that nothing is easy,” Michael Monarch, owner of Oregon Best Hemp LLC, told the press.
Monarch personally knew one of the farmers in Applegate who committed suicide after their crop failed. The loss of their 20-acre crop to mold proved too much for them.
The grower faithfully harvested their crop and put it into plastic bags as recommended. What they neglected to do was to compress the bags to 2,200 psi and push all the oxygen out of the bales to prevent rot. The process is pretty common with hemp growers and is a standard step to keep biomass fresh and free of mold until it gets processed.
“When the buyer showed up, they cut open a bag, and black goo oozed out,” Monarch said. “He thought he made millions, and here he was standing in front of a disaster.”
This was only one of the many sad stories that transpired in Southern Oregon this year.
Jackson county registered 8,500 acres of hemp to be grown in 2019. Less than half of that will be harvested, and roughly half of farmers will not be there to try again next year.
Jackson county is littered with abandoned hemp fields and acres and acres of rotting plants. Many growers set up shop with bright-eyed enthusiasm but abandoned their fields once they ran out of money. The majority of the time, they simply walked away.