Articles

Budding industry: Local farm harvests first hemp crop

October 12, 2019


SOME SAY HEMP FARMING AND C- B-D PRODUCTION IS TRANSFORMING THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE IN THE REGION. IN 2015–THERE WERE 49 HEMP GROWER LICENSES ISSUED BY THE TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. THAT NUMBER INCREASED TO 226 IN 2018. ONE OF THE LARGEST LICENSED HEMP GROWERS IN TENNESSEE IS HARVESTING HEMP FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS FALL. JACKIE DEFUSCO JOINS US NOW WITH A CLOSER LOOK AT HOW A FAMILY CATTLE FARM IS TAKING ON A NEW IDENTITY. “FOR YEARS THE MERJ FAMILY FARM HAS SUPPORTED CATTLE, CORN AND ALFALFA, BUT FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS FALL, THEY’RE HARVESTING HEMP.” “IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO HIRE A LOT OF PEOPLE, IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO CONVERT LAND THAT WAS BASICALLY IDOL INTO SOMETHING THAT’S PRODUCTIVE FOR THE COMMUNITY.” SINCE THE 2018 FARM BILL PAVED THE WAY FOR INDUSTRIAL HEMP CULTIVATION… MERJ FARM IN SULLIVAN COUNTY HAS BECOME ONE OF THE LARGEST LICENSED GROWERS IN TENNESSEE. “WE’RE ONE OF THE ONLY GROWERS THAT HAVE OUR OWN EXTRACTION FACILITY SO NOT ONLY DO WE GROW THE HEMP BUT WE ALSO HAVE THE CAPABILITY OF CONVERTING IT INTO A PRODUCT THAT’S SELLABLE.” THAT PRODUCT IS C-B-D OIL… A SISTER TO MARIJUANA… WITH LOWER LEVELS OF THE PSYCHOACTIVE COMPONENT T-H- C. “SO WE’RE LICENSED TO GROW JUST OVER 200 ACRES AND WE’RE GROWING 20 ACRES THIS YEAR.” FOR THEIR FIRST HARVEST… CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER HOWARD BROADFOOT SAYS THEY’RE PRODUCING THREE STRAINS KNOWN TO GROW WELL IN THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES. “FOR OUR FARM, FOR OUR PARTICULAR SOIL, FOR OUR SUNLIGHT FOR OUR IRRIGATION, WE DON’T KNOW WHICH ONE GROWS THE BEST SO WE’RE GROWING ALL THREE THIS YEAR AND THEN WE’LL DECIDE NEXT YEAR WHAT WE GROW, WHETHER IT’S TWO VARIETIES, THREE AGAIN OR MAYBE EVEN A FOURTH VARIETY.” BROADFOOT SAYS THE PLANTS HARVESTED SO FAR ARE BIGGER THAN EXPECTED. SOME STILL NEED A FEW MORE WEEKS IN THE FIELD. “TOWARD THE END OF THE MONTH, FIRST WEEK OF NOVEMBER THIS WILL ALL BE CUT AND HUNG IN THE BARN TO DRY.” BACK AT THE BARN… THE FIRST OF ABOUT 17 THOUSAND PLANTS ARE HANGING TO DRY. THERE THEY’LL STAY FOR A FEW WEEKS BEFORE BEING TRANSFERRED TO MERJ’S 18 THOUSAND SQUARE FOOT PROCESSING FACILITY… TO MAKE A PRODUCT BROADFOOT SAYS WILL BE THE PUREST ON THE MARKET. “IT’S AN EMERGING INDUSTRY. IT’S THE FASTEST GROWING INDUSTRY IN AMERICA RIGHT NOW, THE HEMP INDUSTRY, SO I EXPECT IT’LL BE REVOLUTIONARY FOR THE ECONOMY OF THIS AREA OF THE COUNTRY.” “MERJ CBD PRODUCTS ARE EXPECTED TO BE ON THE SHELVES BY SPRING 2020. FOR NOW, IN SULLIVAN COUNTY, JACKIE DEFUSCO, NEWS CHANNEL 11.” THE SUSPECT CHARGED WITH THE

No Comments

Leave a Reply