ROSEVILLE, Illinois -- According to Andy Huston, American Hemp Research founder, there were 400 hemp permits issued in Illinois since the application process began in April. The permit allows the growth, production, and selling of hemp or hemp products.
Huston was the first hemp farmer in the state in 2018, growing his plant with a research permit. In December 2018, hemp production became legal in every state. Even though Huston wasn't knew to farming this particular crop, it's still a learning process for him too.
"We're doing different population tests, different tillage practices, and emergence rates," Huston said.
Huston and his team of nine farmers are planting 15 acres of hemp. This year they are using two different hemp fields.
"We are basically going back to the way we farmed corn 100 years ago," Huston said.
On one field they are direct seeding. The other field they are using a transfer field, where they will use drip line hoses and plastic to transfer greenhouse grown hemp into the field.
"This is almost bulletproof," Huston said about the transfer field. "It's almost 100% guarantee we will get a good crop out of this."
"As of right now, the direct seeding process seems to be a lot simpler," Huston said. "Then the transfer field has been a lot of work and a lot more expensive to do it with the plastic and irrigation line."
Each field will be pesticide free, which is different then your typical corn and soybean techniques.
"For the most part, I think this is going to be a pesticide free crop," Huston said. "Once we have the plastic and the irrigation down and plants out here, there wont be a lot of labor involved. With the direct seeding, you're going to have to be weeding."
Huston said a lot of hemp farming is trail and error.
"I like coming out here first thing in the morning and seeing how they grew over night," he said. "These rows are about 325 ft long and what we've been doing is going down here and taking counts every week. Just walking the fields is the best way."
Huston owns 900 acres of land in Roseville, Illinois and is a 6th generation farmer. He is using similar techniques to farming corn, soybeans, and vegetables in his hemp growing.
"The tillage practice that we use here is the same tillage practice that we use on corn and soybeans," he said. "We're going to cut the plants down like you would hay."
Huston will be growing and testing four different strains in the ground and five different strains in a greenhouse, all to extract his own CBD oil.
"I dont know how many people have come to me in the last three months and told me how CBD has helped them." Huston said.
Huston says he has sold hemp seeds to about 80 other new hemp farmers in the state. You can contact him here if you are interested in purchasing seeds or farming hemp.
He is also growing corn and soybeans for this planting season.