The Arkansas Farmer’s Industrial Hemp Conference, a two-day meeting designed to give farmers the pros and cons of adding industrial hemp to their crop rotation will be held Feb. 14 and 15 at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown North Little Rock.
Speakers will include Arkansas farmers who grew industrial hemp this last season, soil scientists, seedsmen, processors, marketers and regulators. The Arkansas farmers will pass on lessons learned regarding varieties, controlling THC levels, pests and the marketing and sale of their crops.
The conference is presented by Green Remedies which operates Indigenous Seeds, Hawgs Hemp Farm and Hawgs Hemp Refinery. Green Remedies co-founder Brad Fausett leads the industrial hemp program at the Northwestern Oklahoma State University and will be speaking about the most common mistakes made by new hemp farmers and best practices for growing hemp.
Shawn Peebles, owner of Peebles Farm, a 1,200 acre organic sweet potato operation in Woodruff County grew five acres of industrial hemp this season and will speak at the conference.
“First, hemp is way over-hyped,” Peebles said.” You are not going to get rich quick, however it can be a very profitable addition to your crop rotation. You have to pay attention in advance as to where you are going to sell it. It is not like selling a commodity crop.”
There will be a session devoted entirely to the business side of hemp production, which differs significantly from business models associated with row crops. Jason Martin, CEO of Tree of Life Seeds, will lead a session on creating a sound business model for industrial hemp farming.
About 90% of industrial hemp grown in Arkansas is processed into CBD oil and products. That may change over the next several years according to John Workman, an England, Ark.-based row crop farmer and president of the Arkansas Hemp Association, who will be speaking.
“Hemp is now being processed economically into construction materials such as ‘hemp wood’ and insulation. A manufacturing facility has opened up in Kentucky to make hemp wood. That market will require different varieties and different planting methods than what we currently do. It’s a few years off probably.”
Workman plans to bring a hemp board to his session.