The glut of rain seen in the Midwest this year has delayed some farmers planting, but there will be a new crop in the soil for many local growers this year.
About 400 throughout Illinois have applied to grow hemp and that includes several in Knox, Warren, and neighboring counties.
12 have applied to grow hemp in Warren County and 9 have applied in Knox County, according to records obtained from the Illinois Department of Agriculture from a Freedom of Information Act request.
Some are planning on growing hemp seed and fiber, but the most popular option is to plant hemp rich is CBD, or cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating compound.
CBD is anecdotally said to aid with things ranging from seizures to inflammation, but it is largely untested by the medical community.
5 of 8 in Knox County indicated their intention to cultivate CBD, and 10 out of 12 in Warren County.
John Sullivan, Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, says the issue that he’s been asked the most about is when farmers will be able to grow hemp, “When I took over, I instructed my staff to do everything they could to ensure that hemp can be planted and grown this year.”
Sullivan says he’s confident that hemp can be a boon to the economy, in rural areas of Illinois, but also urban, “I’ve had a lot of interest from the urban areas of the state as well. You don’t need acres and acres to grow hemp, you can do it on a smaller plot. As a matter of fact, we’re going to have a couple of small plots out on the fairgrounds that we’re going to be planting here before too long – as soon as it dries up. And, we’re going to use that to educate the public as to what hemp is [and] what it looks like.”
Governor J.B. Pritzker calls agriculture a “core pillar” of our state economy, and this new crop will Illinois remain at the “forefront of what it means to be a 21st-century agricultural economy.”