Local farmers add hemp to acreage

 Jimmy Powell (far right) of H&H Farms in Evergreen follows the tobacco planter now filled with hemp plants.

   H&H Farms of Cobbtown has partnered with Second Century Ag of Ocilla, GA to grow approximately 50,000 hemp plants south of Metter.

 George and Tommy Holland, owners of H&H Farms, are in the process of farming 28 acres of hemp along with their tobacco crop this season. Planting is now underway, with harvest scheduled for roughly 90 days.

 The Hollands will grow, harvest and dry the plants before the buds and leaves are shipped to Second Century Ag for the CBD oil to be extracted.

 Hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant, but hemp varieties contain little or no THC, the compound that gives marijuana users a high. State inspectors will test hemp to ensure it contains less than 0.3% THC.

So what’s the craze? With industries from pharmaceuticals to beauty brands embracing the power of hemp oil, and consumer spending skyrocketing across North America, Georgia farmers may have found “the new cash crop.” Producers in other states that legalized hemp earlier have gotten a head start, but Georgia is well situated to close the gap, having the climate and infrastructure to support the best possible growth.

Hemp grows best in well-draining, loamy soil with abundant organic matter, and South Georgia has the perfect soil with coastal plain marine sediments to enable consistent and fertile growth. And while the summer heat and humidity might feel oppressive to some, it’s ideal for industrial hemp production. 

 The Georgia hemp industry is expected to be highly regulated. The prospects for Georgia to start this year were in doubt until the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the state’s hemp plan this month. The federal government had put Georgia’s plan on hold late last year but gave it the go-ahead when state legislators appropriated $200,000 to regulate the program in this year’s budget and proposed additional funding next fiscal year.

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