Farmers pour time, money and aspirations into hemp with harvest season underway

For the first time since the 1950s, Wisconsin farmers are harvesting hemp plants. About 1,850 acres were planted this year.

News 3 brought you the story of John Eichorst in May as he was getting ready to plant hemp seeds. He started harvesting the plants the first weekend in October.

“It was fun working the greenhouse. They just grow so fast,” Eichorst said.

He and his wife, Kattia Jimenez, started Mount Horeb Hemp. They planted a half-acre, which started as 600 seeds in the greenhouse.

“I’m just really happy with it so far. I mean, we’ve had our issues, but some people’s got wiped out with all the flooding and the winds,” Eichorst said.

A number of farmers agree it hasn’t been the best year to grow a new crop, with historic rainfall and flooding in the area.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection tested the farmers’ plants to make sure they had less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.

Some other farmers across the state are growing hemp on a larger scale. Mark Hubbard, of GroHub Farm in Monroe, planted 35 acres. Unfortunately, he lost much of the crop due to wet weather

“We’ve been doing this for three weeks — harvesting 14 hours a day, seven days a week,” Hubbard said. “You have to tend to these like it’s a vegetable garden.”

He moved to Wisconsin this year, after the state’s hemp pilot program was created. He said hemp has the potential to create numerous jobs and be life-changing for a number of people.

.@widatcp gave me the latest numbers today on the #hemp pilot program in Wisconsin today. About 1,850 acres were planted this year in our state. #news3 pic.twitter.com/3zojgjp8R7

— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) October 17, 2018

“This is all personal money. There are no bankers investing in companies to do this, so these individuals definitely put all of their hard work and sometimes all of their life savings into this, to making this happen and to having this vision,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard has a license to both grow and process the hemp. He said he bought a processing facility and will work with five farmers to process their hemp into cannabidiol, or CBD, products.

“They’re going to be used for lotions and different products in the marketplace,” Hubbard said.

He said people in Wisconsin could start to see the products on shelves in stores in Wisconsin as soon as January. In a few years, he said, consumers could even start to see the prices decrease on CBD products because, right now, local stores are shipping their products in from other states.

“It’s supply and demand,” he added.