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Wisconsin farmers have high hopes with first hemp harvest

Wednesday, October 10, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tim Elliott, WMTV

Growing was outlawed in the United States in 1957. In 2014, the crop was reinstated. States began allowing farmers to grow the crop and now, 61 years after it was made illegal, the controversial crop is back in Wisconsin fields.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 183 growers planted hemp on 1,850 acres this year.

One of those growers is Janet Gamble. She runs Turtle Creek Farms in Delavan.

"I think the industry has potential and it needs a lot of momentum,” she said.

Gamble is betting big on hemp. Her 100 acre farm started eight years ago, mainly for vegetable production.

"Our mission is to grow nutritionally dense food for the sake of humanity,” she said. "We grow more than 40 types of vegetables.”

But when growing hemp became legal in Wisconsin earlier this year, Gamble jumped on board.

"It’s a really new market and there’s so many different things that you can do with it, so it just was like a new world,” she said.

Steve Tomlins helped grow the hemp at Turtle Creek. They harvested the hemp by hand from the fields last week. He says growing the crop wasn’t easy.

"It was challenging and exciting,” he said. "I have an insatiable desire to learn stuff and if it’s new and can be discovered, I’m going to dig.”

Hemp and marijuana come from the same cannabis family, but there are key differences.

"People think you can get high on it (hemp) and you can’t,” said Gamble.

THC – the component in marijuana that gets you high – is extremely low in hemp. It’s just point 0.3 of one percent. Gamble says when it comes to hemp, the list of health benefits continues to grow, especially when it comes to producing CBD oil.

She says it can work as an anti-inflammatory, help people sleep, act as an anxiety suppressant, and help relieve headaches, among other things.

Gamble and Tomlins planted 400 hemp bushes. The hemp is now hanging in greenhouses to dry before they pull the buds off and ship them off to a lab to be analyzed.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 82 processors registered to convert the crop, mainly into CBD oil. 285 samples have already been sent to DATCAP for testing. 21 have already failed testing meaning they had more than 0.3 percent of one percent THC. Those crops were destroyed.

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