Hemp (or industrial hemp) is one of the most extensive new opportunities for growers in Michigan due to its recent legalization by the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill legalizes industrial hemp and provides a federal framework for industrial hemp production by permitting hemp growers and processors, operating in states, such as Michigan, with hemp legislation, to engage in commercial hemp production.
Hemp is Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) that has less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive component. Hemp is cultivated to produce fiber, grain, biomass, or non-intoxicating medicinal compounds, such as CBD. In addition to these facts, there are six other things you might not know about hemp farming in Michigan that you may find interesting.
1. You Must Obtain A License
If starting a Michigan hemp farm, you need a license to grow or process hemp and they’re available at any point in time. Those interested can download and complete the Hemp Grower and the Hemp Processor-Handler Application online. The cost for the grower license is 100 dollars, and the processor-handler license is 1,350 dollars. There’s no limit on the number of licenses issued or the number of acres grown in Michigan. All State of Michigan hemp licenses expire on November 30 of each year.
Participation in the Hemp Ag Pilot Program requires licensees to be free of drug-related felony charges in the 10 years before the submission of an application.
2. Hemp Signs are Required on the Farms
All growing areas with hemp must be labeled with signs. The signage must include and state the following:
- A statement indicating: “hemp registered with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development”
- Grower name
- Grower registration number
3. All Help Must Test Below the 0.3% THC
All hemp must test below the 0.3 percent THC to be compliant growing it in Michigan. As of October 2019, MDARD’s Geagley Laboratory in East Lansing is testing THC content for growers in the state of Michigan. In some cases, the hemp may test higher than the limit. Public Act 641 allows testing to be completed two additional times. If a third test indicates a THC concentration greater than 0.3%, MDARD shall order the crop destroyed.
4. Most Industrial Hemp Varieties Originate from Europe
Three primary types of hemps originate from Europe, including:
- Dioecious, having male and female flower parts on separate plants
- Monoecious, having male and female flower parts on the same plant
- Female predominant, a dioecious type with 85 percent to 90 percent female plants
Characteristics unique to each variety include seed size, oil content and composition, and fiber quality and yield. Finding cultivars suited to local conditions and purpose (fiber, grain, or cannabinoids) is the key to success. Hemp is day-length sensitive, so flowering is triggered with the onset of shorter days, generally four to five weeks after the summer solstice (June 20 or 21) depending on latitude.
5. You Need the Right Soils & Climate
Hemp is best grown on well-drained, highly fertile soils with ample organic matter. Given adequate fertility and moisture, good hemp also can be grown on sandy soils. Young plants are sensitive to wet or flooded soils during the first three weeks, or until growth reaches the fourth internode. Also, hemp prefers a significant amount of moisture, so continued drought results in low yields of light grain. During the period of vegetative growth, hemp responds to daytime high temperatures of 77°F to 83°F.
6. Profits are Yet to Be Determined
You may quickly assume that it’s profitable to grow hemp in Michigan. However, due to lack of agronomic information and markets that are not well established, there’s no way to tell yet if industrial hemp will be profitable in Michigan. However, the good news is that there are many uses for industrial hemp including fiber, grain, oils, pharmaceutical products and more. Reports show that industrial hemp can have over 25,000 uses. As opportunities become available, it’s recommended that growers should have a contract in place with a reputable buyer of industrial hemp product(s) before planting.
Getting in Touch
Under PA 641, anyone who grows industrial hemp or processes, handles, brokers, or markets industrial hemp in Michigan, must obtain a registration or license from MDARD. Our firm assists persons and businesses who are licensed by the State of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Our practice in this area has two primary focuses; namely, assisting business entities in obtaining operating licenses (medical marijuana facilities, recreational marijuana facilities, hookah lounges, tobacco specialty retail shops/stores etc.). We encourage you to contact FFW today so you can start the process.