Article by Sam Riches, Growth Op
Coleman Hemphill, president of the Texas Hemp Industry Association, believes that hemp grown in the state could be worth “tens of billions of dollars.”
“I feel confident that Texas could be one of the largest hemp fibre-producing states, similar to how it’s the largest fibre-producing state for cotton,” Hemphill told the Austin Chronicle. “A lot of the attributes of Texas weather [are] advantageous, both for fibre production and cannabinoids because it’s a dry state, allowing more stress on the plants, which makes the valuable attributes of that crop more expressed.”
Texas legalized the production of hemp in June 2019 and this fall, farmers across the state legally harvested the crop for the first time in 80 years. And though they’ve been quick to embrace hemp, many farmers view it as a warm-up, and preparation for when the state eventually legalizes cannabis, a crop with even higher revenue potential.
The majority of hemp grown in the state is for CBD. Though the applications for industrial hemp are nearly endless — Hemphill points to hempcrete, a mould-resistant material made from the hemp’s inner stalk, that could be useful for shoring up housing and public infrastructure in Texas’ flood-prone areas — but the cost of processing hemp fibre remains a barrier.
“The reality is smoking and ingesting hemp is the current thing,” said Zachary Maxwell, president of Texas Hemp Growers, who added that farmers approached the crop modestly in year one.
“We’ve mostly seen less than five acres,” he said. “The idea was, ‘Start small, don’t try to grow 20 to 40 acres without experience,’ though we do have members who did 20 acres and there’s a collective in the Lubbock area that did 40 acres apiece. Up there, they’re trying to row-crop it and harvest with machines.”
Farmers are also trying their hands at different strains of CBD-heavy hemp, with Maxwell noting that Goliath and Cherry Wine are two strains that are particularly popular with Texas farmers.
“They both have a lot of buyer interest, and Cherry Wine tends to perform well in a lot of different environments because of how long it’s been bred,” he said. “Newer strains that come into the market are the ones that can have an issue. I’ve talked to farmers that have had problems with CBG varieties going into flower immediately. If you could imagine a nugget of cannabis growing straight out of the ground, that’s what it looked like.”