(Above) Senator Joni Ernst visited the Nicholas Hemp Farm Tuesday to find out about their expertise with rising industrial hemp. Ernst is pictured with Greg Nicholas and his father, Greg, who have been among the many first Iowa farmers to develop a hemp crop.-Reporter photograph by Chris Barragy.
Fiber is the long run, says Greg Nicholas
by Marianne Gasaway
Rarely a day goes by that Greg Nicholas says he isn’t requested about his “pot farm.” Some are joking, however as a rule, they consider Nicholas is rising marijuana on his hemp farm outdoors of Clear Lake.
“Hemp is nowhere near the same as marijuana. They are related— it looks, smells and feels like marijuana, but it is definitely not the same,” defined Nicholas. “It’s like field corn versus sweet corn. It’s just going to take education for people to understand what hemp is and what it’s potential is.”
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) made a cease at Nicholas’ hemp farm Tuesday as a part of her 99 County Tour for 2021. During the cease Nicholas hoped to teach Ernst about his operation and push for a discount in rules which he says are stifling manufacturing of a possible tremendous crop.
“I honestly believe fiber is the future,” stated Nicholas, noting hemp is already in 25,000 merchandise, starting from meals and water, to clothes, magnificence and skincare and even cars. “My grandpa recalls when people were asking what soybeans were when he was starting to plant them. It’s the same thing with farmers starting to grow hemp.”
In Iowa, 2020 was the primary 12 months it was doable to develop hemp legally in Iowa. Eighty-two licenses to develop and market hemp have been issued within the state, together with one to Nicholas.
Admittedly the primary 12 months was a studying course of, nevertheless it was additionally largely profitable.
“I knew I could get it in the ground and make it grow, but we didn’t anticipate Iowa soils are so much more productive than Colorado. We ended up growing seven to eight-foot trees,” stated Nicholas.
The labor wanted to reap, in addition to weeding the non-genetically modified crop, have been sudden challenges.
To simplify issues this 12 months, Nicholas stated he’ll plant simply 5 acres of hemp this June, versus the 15 acres he dedicated to his preliminary crop.
“We had to weed by hand last year and it was a lot of work all summer long— an absolute bear— sometimes on our hands and knees. Like organic corn, you can’t just put a herbicide down. It’s all done by hand, so it’s a chore.”
Drying the crop was one other problem, however the buy of a specialised grain drying system from the Shivvers firm in Des Moines, proved to be an excellent funding. The system was the primary of its variety and it labored very effectively. Most growers have been hanging hemp in buildings to dry for a month or extra, however Nicholas was capable of scale back the drying time to hours, somewhat than days.
Again this 12 months, Nicholas will proceed to deal with promoting his hemp for the cannabidiol market (CBD). It’s a product he believes in.
“I take CBD every single day. It helps my attitude and energy. I encourage people to try it,” he stated. “Yes, it’s expensive, but what’s your health— and mental health worth? There is research going on now to determine if CBD could potentially help with COVID. The benefits of CBD and help are many.”
Nicholas stated he appeared ahead to discussing methods lawmakers may make it much less dangerous for growers to offer hemp a attempt.
Currently, guidelines state the plant can have not more than 0.3 p.c THC (a cannabinoid molecule in marijuana (cannabis) that’s lengthy been acknowledged as the primary psychoactive ingredient). When the crop is able to harvest, the grower has to contact the state and the state takes samples. If the THC stage is just too excessive, the farmer has to plow the crop underneath. If the degrees are OK the farmer has precisely 15 days to reap the crop.
“The 0.3 is an arbitrary number that someone attached to it many years ago. The THC level is so low, that to hold to that level is very difficult,” stated Nicholas. “The farmer is taking a big risk. It’s a difficult industry to get in to and if the crop goes hot (higher that 0.3 percent THC) you’re out. There is no crop insurance. You’re just out. We need to dial in these regulations. Education is key.”