Illinois farmers produced 2.3 million pounds of industrial hemp in the first year of legal cultivation. The Illinois Department of Agriculture began issuing hemp-production permits last Spring after production was legalized. Of 651 licenses granted, 514 planted at least one acre. Nearly three-quarters of the acreage planted was harvested. Hemp was illegal in the state beginning in the 1940s until it was legalized in 2018.
Harvest numbers included biomass, flower, seed and stalk. There were 1.6 million pounds of biomass and 595,000 pounds of flower harvested. Over 65,000 pounds of seed and 15,000 pounds of stalk were also produced. Biomass and flower are the hemp products typically used for their CBD oil, stalks for industrial uses, and seed is planted or used for hemp seed oil. Illinois Ag Director Jerry Costello says that the state is now allowing for some licensed hemp growers to sell products to licensed cannabis cultivators for use in medical and adult-use cannabis products.
Many farmers endured a wet spring and some growing pains in the fall to harvest the crop. 73% of all seed planted was harvested for the year. Many endured unsure markets for the product. Some had to contract their crops individually to both in-state and out-of-state processors causing some unease about the viability of using its usage as a cash crop.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture is currently accepting applications for the 2020 Hemp growing season. To apply for a license, visit agrilicensing.illinois.gov/Industrial_Hemp.