Robert Mills, owner of Briar View Farms in Callands, began growing small acreages of hemp as part of research with Virginia Tech and Tyton BioSciences in 2017. Soon, he will finish harvesting the 16 acres he grew this year, up from the 6.5 acres he grew last year.
“It’s a high risk crop,” Mills said. “More risk than tobacco. We’re constantly taking samples after it reaches a certain point.”
Testing is the word with growing hemp, as if a state regulator were to perform a test on a grower’s sample and find a THC concentration of higher than 0.3 percent, it would be considered a “hot” crop and not legal to possess.
Mills, like many hoping to expand the U.S. hemp industry, is frustrated by this limit, as maintaining it handicaps CBD production to around 6 to 8 percent, lower than the 10 to 14 percent needed to be profitable for both the growers and the processors.
“We’re having to play within the rules, and it’s really limiting us,” Mills said. “If we could go to one percent, then we could maximize the genetic capability of this plant.”
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