When the Texas Legislature legalized hemp in 2019, state Sen. Charles Perry called hemp “the hot crop” — a drought-resistant lifeline for farmers. It got by the Senate and the House with unanimous votes. It had the backing of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.
This year’s drought was the first serious weather test for Texas’ emerging hemp industry. And by all measures, hemp planted in Texas soil hasn’t been able to withstand the extreme conditions.
“To say this is a drought-tolerant crop is not accurate,” said Bingham, who grows industrial hemp along with grapes on his Meadow farm, southwest of Lubbock. “We can grow dryland cotton on a year like this when you never have any success with the dryland hemp crop.”
The state is seeing its driest year since 2011, with more than 76% of Texas facing drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. It’s had devastating impacts on Texas farmers who are reporting the worst crop losses in the country — yields are down 68%, according to a summer American Farm Bureau Federation survey.
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