If you lived in Lubbock in the 1990s, you may remember claims about emus becoming “the next red meat”, and that the utilization of emu oil would bring a revolutionary industry. Fast forward two decades, and that is obviously not the case. Naturally, everyone is looking for the next “next big thing“.
Could it be hemp?
During the Texas Legislative Session last year, Governor Abbott signed into law legislation
that would allow for the production of hemp in the Lone Star State. The Texas Department of Agriculture
(TDA) had its proposed hemp rules approved by the US Department of Agriculture
last month. The next step is for TDA to adopt the rules and to start issuing licenses this year.
The question remains: is hemp a viable alternative crop for farmers in West Texas, or will it fade out like the emu excitement of the 90s? The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Center in Lubbock is promoting education and research for any interested parties and encouraging anyone looking to invest in hemp to be knowledgeable about the product and the marketplace before doing so.
Dr. Calvin Trostle with AgriLife
visited the Lubbock Chamber’s Agriculture Committee meeting this week to relay some of the hemp information he has been sharing across the region.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
- Hemp is produced for a variety of reasons; its oils can be used medicinally or for cooking purposes, its fiber can be used for textiles and even construction purposes.
- For hemp to be within the bounds of the law, it must maintain a Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level of less than 0.3%.
- Although hemp is billed as being drought tolerant and requiring less water than cotton, Dr. Trostle warned against that conclusion, saying that more research needed to be conducted before that could be verified.
- Increased heat and drought conditions are what increase the THC level in hemp. So during a dry summer, unless a farmer is prepared to irrigate the crop very liberally, the hemp crop is at risk of increased THC levels and therefore unable to be moved to market.
- The CBD oil market has encouraged hemp production across the country. However, as more and more producers have tried to get in the CBD game, prices at the farm gate have fallen, highlighting that hemp is just as much subjected to the rules of supply and demand as any other crop. Nobody is writing off hemp just yet. But it is clear that those interested in hemp production should be well-informed about the crop itself and what market conditions might look like in the coming years. Given the climate of West Texas, indoor production of hemp may be a viable option.
As always, the Chamber will continue to monitor developments within the agriculture industry, including hemp. We welcome additional research on the topic and will support hemp industry business ventures in West Texas once TDA begins issuing licenses.
For more information about hemp, check out the AgriLife Extension Center’s hemp webpage.