Hopeful Michigan Hemp grower

Asked July 1, 2019, 7:44 PM EDT

We would like to grow industrial hemp next spring. We would like to start with at least 5-7 acres. We have total 55 plantable acres, but don't know where we would sell it. I have talked with 3 different seed sellers, which had 3 different costs, suggested amount of seeds per-acre, use feminized / don't use feminizes and "consulting fees$$" who do you believe when it comes to purchasing seeds. Who will you sell it to in Michigan. We read a lot of information on the web. One that stands out is plant to the customers specification. We would love to if we knew where to start looking for a customer. Can you help?

St. Clair County Michigan hemp production

1 Response

You are asking all the right questions, and I'm glad you are asking them this early in your plan. Unfortunately, you are not alone in your questioning and in the fog of responses you are receiving. I believe we need to think of industrial hemp as a specialty crop for now, which means finding markets is part of the production model. Perhaps someday seed, fiber and CBD biomass will be able to be marketed more like a commodity. With any new crop like this, it will take time for the industry to develop and for all points along the value chain to become established with necessary quality standards, certifications, etc. I have found the same range of costs and information that you have, and everyone has their own reasoning for their thoughts.

I don't think it is a bad idea to hire a consultant for the first year or two, especially for those who have never grown the crop and perhaps have not produced an agricultural crop before. You will need to exercise due diligence though as anyone who has ever grown industrial hemp can claim to be an "expert" and may try to charge exorbitant consulting fees. Just like anyone else you may hire, you should expect to be provided with a resume that can be fact-checked and a list of past clients/references with contact information. Since you are starting a season ahead, you should have plenty of time to do this legwork and make decisions before the winter.

Having said all this, I do not know of a clearinghouse with a verifiable list of, for example, consultants, processors or buyers. The closest I have come to such a list is the business members list on the iHempMichigan website (https://ihempmichigan.com/). These people have not been vetted to my knowledge, so it is still "buyer beware", but this may give you a place to begin your search. For information, you can bookmark MSU's Hemp Production website (https://www.canr.msu.edu/hemp/) which will be populated with more articles, webinars and research data as we gain more experience with the crop.