FILE - An industrial hemp plant is displayed at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 19, 2019.

FILE – An industrial hemp plant is displayed at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 19, 2019. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Industrial hemp crop in Utah had fits and starts this growing season

LAYTON — Who knew there are cannabis strains named Merlot, Cherry Blossom, Tokyo, and even Obama and Trump?

Some of Utah’s farmers do, as they planted a few of these varieties during the 2019 growing season after industrial hemp was legalized across the country as a commodity by President Donald Trump last year.

Kerry McFarland grew cloned plants on 8 acres in Weber County to try it out.

“Trump was super aggressive,” McFarland said of his plants, drawing laughter from a crowded room of farmers at Friday’s annual convention of the Utah Farm Bureau at the Davis Conference Center in Layton.

Farmers paid $500 for a license to grow industrial hemp in Utah over the summer, with 290 cultivation licenses issued by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. Of those, 190 were active for a growing season that starts in early summer and a harvest that plays out over September and October.

Industrial hemp is distinguished from psychoactive cannabis if it passes a threshold test of a less than .03% level of THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. Industrial hemp is a source of fiber and oilseed grown in more than 30 nations.

The state agency did 700 tests on this summer’s Utah crops and found 40 samples that came back “hot,” and therefore either have to be destroyed or sent through a state-authorized pipeline for medical cannabis.

Drew Rigby, the Utah agriculture agency’s director of medical cannabis and industrial hemp, said the results were a big surprise for a first-year crop that experienced a lot …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

      

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