US (IA): Growers hoping to cash in with Iowa's first legal hemp crop find hard work and risk

Jay Kata's first hemp crop went up in smoke. The plants grown by him and his farming partners in southeast Iowa were mowed down, windrowed — then set ablaze.

What remained was tilled under after the field became "too hot": The level of THC — tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in cannabis plants like hemp — exceeded state and federal limits.

"It was pretty heartbreaking," said Kata, who was among nearly 90 Iowans this year who set out to produce the state's first government-authorized crop of hemp.

Iowa farmers planted hemp on about 680 acres this year, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Growers are hoping to cash in on a burgeoning market for hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD. The non-psychoactive compound is being added to everything from sparking water and chocolates to body creams and dog treats with the promise that it can relieve a host of maladies.


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