Hemp farmers forced to destroy crops

Hemp farmers forced to destroy crops
Nov 27, 2020

The plants contained more THC than allowed at state or federal levels

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Some hemp producers had no choice but to destroy their crops because the plants didn’t meet federal or state regulations.

After the Iowa Hemp Act became law in May 2020, people in the state planted about 680 acres of the crop.

But about 13 percent (88 acres) of the cultivated hemp crop had to be destroyed because the plants contained too much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Federal and state laws dictate hemp can only contain 0.3 percent THC. Levels higher than that mean the plant is considered marijuana and therefore a narcotic.

Prior to harvest in Iowa, the state ag department samples and tests the THC level. If the crop passes, the licensee is given a certificate of crop inspection and may harvest the plants.

If the hemp fails, the department orders the crop to be destroyed, which the licensee has to cover the costs of.

“It was pretty heartbreaking,” Jay Kata, who received a state license to produce hemp on two acres of land, told the Des Moines Register.

THC levels in his plants were about three times above the 0.3 percent threshold. The levels rose because the plants were competing with weeds, he said.

Kata was one of 90 growers to get permission to grow hemp. Under state rules, a grower may only produce about 40 acres of hemp per license he or she has.

Iowa hemp growers weren’t the only ones who had to destroy crops.

In January, about 41 percent of hemp plants in Arizona went unharvested because of elevated THC levels.

Growers there planted about 18,000 acres in 2019, meaning about 7,000 acres of plants were destroyed or disposed of.

“I was very surprised about the reports,” Sully Sullivan, executive director of the Hemp Industry Trade Association of Arizona, told KOLD in January. “It was quite shocking.”

Farms.com has reached out to members of the hemp community to discuss ways of ensuring crops remain within the 0.3 percent THC threshold.

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