Va. hemp numbers overshadow Md., Del.
WASHINGTON — The USDA released its first annual hemp report this month, offering at least a partial snapshot of the country’s fledgling $800 million industry.
The numbers for many states, however, may not represent a complete picture of their growing communities as many farmers were still participating last year in federally-approved pilot programs that didn’t require them to report to the government.
Regionally, Virginia led Delmarva states in production with 350 acres planted during the 2021 growing season. Maryland and Delaware’s totals were paltry in comparison with just 30 and 13 acres respectively.
Last year, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said roughly 9,700 acres were planned in the state, illustrating the difference between the USDA report’s data and the states’.
“The release of this landmark report provides a needed benchmark about hemp production to assist producers, regulatory agencies, state governments, processors and other key industry entities,” said Hubert Hamer, administrator of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. “Not only will these data guide USDA agencies in their support of domestic hemp production, the results can also help inform producers’ decisions about growing, harvesting, and selling hemp as well as the type of hemp they decide to produce. The survey results may also impact policy decisions about the hemp industry.”
Maryland produced about 8,000 pounds of field-grown floral hemp with an average yield of about 330 pounds per acre. The value of that hemp totaled $1.35 million. The value of hemp grown under protection was about $98,000.
Virginia produced about 29,000 pounds of industrial hemp in the open with a value of more than $2 million. Delaware’s numbers were too small to disclose in the report.
Nationally, more than 54,000 acres of industrial hemp were grown in the open, and nearly 34,000 were harvested.
Colorado led all states with more than 10,000 planted (though just about 3,000 harvested).
Producers in the Delmarva region have struggled with the crop. The University of Maryland Extension published a report last year that detailed an oversupplied market crushing the crop’s profitability in the state and nationwide.
“The big kind of stalling factor is that we don’t have someone in the industry buying hemp to process it into a product,” said Kevin Atticks, who manages the Maryland Hemp Coalition. “We have a number of hemp farmers who are extracting CBD and selling their own products made with CBD.”
The vast majority of hemp producers in the country — more than 80 percent — are male. Nearly 60 percent of them are new to farming of any kind, with five years of experience or less. Their average age is 51 and 90 percent are white.