High THC Levels Cost Hawaii Hemp Farmers their Crop

Officials in Hawaii have revealed that nearly half of all the industrial hemp that was grown in the state last year couldn’t be used because the plants had higher than permitted levels of THC.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture said that 18 crops had to be destroyed because they were found to have elevated THC levels while four crops which tested slightly above the 0.3 THC limit were cleared to be used by processors.

This high rate of crop rejection highlights the challenges that hemp farmers have to contend with as they grow the plants at this time when hemp cultivation is still in its infancy and a lot of experiments are still being done to shed light on how best this lucrative commercial crop can be grown.

Shelly Choy, the hemp program coordinator at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture admitted that it is very hard to grow hemp whose THC level is less than 0.3 percent due to the unique photoperiod (number of daylight hours) and climate of the state.

Choy added that the hemp strains which can produce buds with high CBD concentrations also tend to have relatively higher levels of THC than would be desirable for this crop which walks a legal tightrope in which it is very easy for hemp to be called marijuana on the basis of how much THC is found in the plants.

To reduce these risks, Hawaii approved a variety of industrial hemp seeds that could grow well in the state. However, licensed growers were also allowed to source their own seed and ask the department of agriculture to approve those seeds for cultivation in Hawaii.

It isn’t yet clear whether it is the interstate seed sourced by farmers themselves that resulted in higher than acceptable THC levels or the seed specifically developed for Hawaii which failed THC tests for hemp.

Farmers may need to think hard about the risk of crop destruction due to high THC levels in light of the USDA’s announcement that when federal crop insurance becomes available to farmers under the 2018 Farm Bill, only plants whose THC concentration meets the U.S. legal definition of hemp will qualify for that insurance cover.

Researchers are also hard at work to develop hemp varieties which have zero THC concentration in order to avert the losses such as those that the 18 Hawaii hemp farmers have suffered.

Experts believe industry actors like Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) and Neutra Corp. (OTCQB: NTRR) hope a solution to the THC challenge is found soon by seed developers so that farmers can have a higher chance of earning from their crop.

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