Update on Industrial Hemp for Texas—January 2020


Dr. Calvin Trostle, Extension Agronomy, TAMU Soil & Crop Sciences, Lubbock, TX
(806) 723-8432, ctrostle@ag.tamu.edu
January 23, 2020

USDA extended the public comment period by 30 days to conclude in late January. This likely delays final approval of state plans, like Texas, a similar amount.
Additional Information from USDA
There is additional information from USDA. The overall USDA hemp program information is at https://www.farmers.gov/manage/hemp Some topics will not be relevant for Texas in 2020 but will have potentially favorable implications for hemp in Texas in 2021.
Additional information includes crop insurance and safety net provisions. For Texas, Whole-Farm Revenue Protection is available in 2020. AgriLife Extension ag. economists note this type of policy type is largely unused in Texas. It is not a preferred insurance product. Too, individuals entering the production of hemp in 2020 who are not classified as farmers in the past and have not reported ‘farm income’ are not eligible.

USDA is permitting a pilot program for Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) in select counties within 22 other states that have already planted hemp. In this case, actual production history factors into the equation, even if farmer has only one year of production history. Texas farmers could find this favorable—MPCI is a preferred type of crop insurance—after 2020. In fact, some Texas farmers are considering growing small acreages of hemp in 2020 anticipating this established yield history could then make MPCI an option in 2021.

Nursery crop insurance options may also be available to Texas growers in 2021.

Other USDA guidelines include reporting of acreage to the Farm Service Agency, possible eligibility of hemp farmers for different types of farm loans (operating ownership, beginning farmers, farm storage), and conservation programs under the administration of Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Texas Department of Agriculture—Revised Proposed Hemp Rules, FAQs, etc.

TDA withdrew their proposed rules in December to USDA for some updating, then re-issued the rules in the Texas Register (Oct. 10, 2020: 45 TexReg 245-258). A TDA public hearing on proposed rules was held in Waco January 22. According to TDA’s Jim Reaves an audio/video of the comments will be available to the public. Texas A&M AgriLife staff listening at the meeting noted there were only one or two individuals that offered comments that might have been a farmer.

TDA also has a section on their main hemp webpage listing 82 frequently asked questions, see https://www.texasagriculture.gov/RegulatoryPrograms/Hemp.aspx Topics include:

• Applying for a hemp license/permit. (The latest indication I have from TDA is to expect the portal for applications will open the second week of March.)
• Growing a hemp crop.
• Costs of hemp production.
• Hemp crop testing.
• Hemp crop processing.
• Growing hemp in greenhouses.
• Certified hemp seed.
• CBD & consumables. (This is for consumable hemp products including food, drug, device, or cosmetics. A Texas State Dept. of Health Services link is provided for further information. AgriLife has only recently studied the guidelines regarding consumables. We do not have information to offer regarding this topic.)
• Other questions.

Feedback from Recent Texas A&M AgriLife Hemp Mini Workshops

Recent Texas A&M AgriLife hemp programs were in Lubbock, Amarillo, Abilene, Big Spring, San Angelo, Waco, Deleon, Greenville, and Denton. In general, attendees who considered themselves ‘current farmers or growers’ were 20-40%, but about 40-67% were interested at some level in growing hemp. Note there are more people interested in growing hemp than people who farm. I believe the difference is individuals interested in small scale production of two acres or less.

Key concerns among workshop attendees were, in order:

1) How do we make sense of and what are the implications of the major drop in CBD prices paid to growers? The spot market, noted in the RCNL January update (then $1.14 in Colorado) is now less than $1 per 1% per dry pound of material. It was $3.85 last May. Currently the consensus is there’s oversupply, at least for the moment, of CBD (or a backlog of dried material waiting for extraction).
2) How do we identify a reputable buyer for dried hemp for CBD? This is not an easy situation. Currently I am aware of a very few individuals or companies that are offering to partner/purchase 2020 Texas hemp for CBD. I have only been shown one copy of a contract (it was a flat-fee contract to the farmer to lease the land and manage the farming). When you visit with a prospective buyer there should be a contract involved that describes proposed terms and conditions. Prospective hemp growers in Texas should have your own attorney review the document. Likewise, there are numerous instances where Texas A&M AgriLife has heard or talked to individuals and groups that intend to put in a CBD processor. But to our knowledge little if any activity has yet occurred which makes prospects for CBD processing in Texas in 2020 uncertain.
3) How do we identify good quality seed and planting stock? Currently, Texas A&M AgriLife can offer little about companies and their seed offerings. Variety testing in 2020 will be a high AgriLife priority. Currently, TDA rules state that transplants and clones are not permitted to be brought into Texas. (Though there are e-mails even from TDA that say otherwise.) So, seed (‘feminized’, ‘straight run’) is your only planting option for Texas in 2020. Seed buyers should purchase seed as close to the company that bred the seed or grew the seed, or their authorized seed dealers. Typically, we would like assurances of seed purity, seed germination (Fig. 1), free from weed seed and other foreign material, etc. But these criteria are not yet readily achieved in current seed production and marketing for hemp. Avoid seed resellers on the internet or other dealers that appear to have no physical address that you could go visit if you wanted to.

Fig. 1. Poor quality feminized seed with low germination and poor vigor planted early June 2019 in New Mexico under irrigation. Hotter conditions of this late planting may have contributed to poor stand establishment. Target planting would be up to six weeks earlier. Most of the field was not harvested.
A Current Major Texas A&M AgriLife Question on Optimum Hemp Planting Dates

Among hemp varieties for CBD production, most lines are photoperiod sensitive. This means hemp enters the reproductive phase when days shorten. (Actually, it is increasing length of darkness.) There are a few varieties that are ‘indeterminant.’ (‘Autoflower’ to the hemp industry.) These latter lines grow in response to light and heat. Growth will slow or hasten in relation to cool or warm conditions. But PS lines may not be rigidly photoperiod sensitive. Dr. David Baltensperger, Texas A&M Dept. of Soil & Crop Sciences, says PS lines may have other strong factors besides PS genetics that dictate performance in a given region. He suggests we examine the performance of hemp lines in regions with similar latitudes (for South Texas thus southern Alabama & Georgia, Florida, etc.).

We believe this issue of PS vs. indeterminant hemp is a greater issue for South Texas. A strongly PS hemp line would in theory not enter the reproductive phase until darkness lengthens. So, if planted in the field at an otherwise agronomic planting condition, e.g., February for the Lower Rio Grande Valley or early March around Corpus Christi, it could be a long time before floral structures develop. The result is a too-large plant and perhaps lesser CBD concentration in the flower or other biomass. But farmers in South Texas know early planted crops (largely determinant like corn, grain sorghum; upland cotton is predominantly indeterminant) perform better than late-planted crops. Also, early crops do not face tropical storm risks.

I will report on this issue in future updates. Currently, AgriLife Extension with input from hemp farmers in other states believe that the planting window for hemp in Texas begins about the time of your last average 32 F freeze date and extends for a couple of weeks. A light freeze may not injure the crop but to plant earlier is to risk possible damage.

Further Resource for Hemp Pricing

In addition to www.panXchange.com, industry colleagues suggest prospective hemp growers access http://www.hempbenchmarks.com This website is more comprehensive. It provides the opportunity to match buyers and sellers for CBD.
Ongoing Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hemp Resources
Additional videos including updates from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension economist Dr. George Knapek are posted at the agency website for hemp, http://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/hemp Trostle’s comprehensive “First Things” hemp PowerPoint series is AgriLife’s most detailed document to date. It was updated January 2. The next revision will be posted in early February. (Look under ‘Hot Topics & Latest Updates’ on the main page.) Other new material coming soon will be a video of Dr. Tom Isakeit on potential diseases in hemp for Texas. Cotton root rot is Dr. Isakeit’s main concern. He believes hemp is susceptible.
Upcoming Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hemp Programs
February 5, Dumas in the Texas Panhandle. Registration 8:30 AM, program 9:00 AM—12:00 PM, Moore Co. Community Building, East 16th & South Maddox. Speakers Dr. Calvin Trostle, extension agronomist, Dr. Justin Benavidez, ag. economist, and Dr. Dennis Coker, AgriLife Extension agronomy agent for Moore/Sherman/Hartley/Dallam counties. For further information and to pre-register by Feb. 4 call or e-mail the Moore Co. AgriLife Extension office, (806) 935-2594, mhfischbacher@ag.tamu.edu or Coker at dennis.coker@ag.tamu.edu Registration payable at the door ($20).
February 11, Dimmitt in the northern Texas South Plains. Registration 8:30 AM, program 9:00 AM—12:00 PM, Castro Co. Expo Center, 405 Southeast 4th Street, Dimmitt. Speakers Dr. Calvin Trostle, extension agronomist, Dr. Justin Benavidez, ag. economist, and Andrew Dunlap, AgriLife Extension agronomy agent for Castro/Lamb/Hale Counties. For further information and pre-registration by Feb. 10 call or e-mail the Castro Co. AgriLife Extension office, (806) 647-4115, andrew.dunlap@ag.tamu.edu Registration payable at the door ($20).
February 12, Amarillo Civic Center, North Ballroom. “Growing Hemp in Texas” discussion session at the annual symposium of the Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District, Registration 8:30 AM, program 9:00 AM—12:00 PM. This one-hour panel discussion features Dan Hunter, Texas Department of Ag.; Dr. Charles Beall, Ana-Lab (preparing to be a DEA federally approved testing lab), Dr. Calvin Trostle, Texas A&M AgriLife; and Rafe Schroder, far southeast Colorado hemp farmer.

Other AgriLife Hemp Programs in Discussion
• Austin, TX Date not set yet.

“Texas A&M AgriLife Extension provides equal opportunities in its programs and employment to all persons, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating.

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