Texas hemp farmers mostly spared from winter storm as other ag segments suffered

Hemp farmers are gearing up to plant their fields only two months right after Texas froze about all through Wintertime Storm Uri – a freak snow and ice storm that prompted extra than $600 million in damages to the state’s agricultural economy.

According to early details from the Texas A&M Extension Provider, other industries these types of as citrus, livestock and horticultural crops were being among the sectors that were being toughest hit.

“Freezing temperatures and ice killed or harmed many of their crops and livestock as perfectly as triggering fiscal hardships and operational setbacks, reported Jeff Hyde, director of the AgriLife Extension Provider at Texas A&M University.

“And the residual charges from the catastrophe could plague a lot of producers for decades to arrive.”

According to AgriLife, some of the state’s most significant agricultural losses by commodity had been:

  • Citrus: At the very least $230 million.
  • Livestock: At least $228 million.
  • Greens: At the very least $150 million.

Hemp dodged a bullet

It is likely that hemp farmers with pursuits in other segments sustained damages.

But when it comes to hemp alone, farmers ended up generally spared, as lots of in the new hemp condition hadn’t planted their crops yet. Texas arrived on the web and allowed for commercial hemp manufacturing for the very first time in 2020.

“Generally right here in South Texas, we won’t be planting right until March or so, but the even further north you go, that will be nearer to June,” explained Noel Garcia, chief operating officer and head crop manufacturing advisor with TPS Lab in Edinburg, Texas.

But hemp may well be tricky plenty of to stand up to snow and it’s possible some chilly, dependent on the meant use of the crop, according to Eric Singular, director of communications and company improvement with Global Hemp, a hemp-genetics supplier dependent in Denver.

Singular stated a Texas farmer who had planted a test plot made up of 1 of the company’s fiber types last drop was checking a volunteer crop that has reseeded to see whether or not it would survive the deep freeze – and so significantly, it appears as even though it has.

“As men and women have often suspected, it is a sturdy crop, and primarily when you get snow, right before you get really minimal temperatures, you have that insulation impact of the snow which is guarding it from going from having too cold. That would seem to be seriously handy,” Singular stated.

He observed the similar factor happen in Colorado previous September, when an early snowstorm blanketed hemp crops prior to the temperatures dropped.

“Once it melted off, they appeared to be protected, whilst crops that experienced to offer with freezing-chilly ice are the ones that did not make it – and it is very unique, from a fiber and grain crop to a cannabinoid crop,” Singular stated.

Another sector that expert substantial losses was the Texas greens market, which consists of 4,000 nursery, greenhouse and similar businesses – some of which are household to younger-plant producers who grow hemp seedlings and clones for farmers and might produce smokable flower indoors.

Texas at present bans the sale but not the output of smokable hemp, though the ban is on hold pending a lawsuit to be heard later on this thirty day period.

In 2020, Texas certified 1,103 hemp farmers with 5,646 outside acres and far more than 15 million sq. feet of indoor production.

Texas’ greenhouse market is nonetheless assessing the damages to greenhouses and nurseries, a method that will likely consider many months.

Most greenhouses, however, are sturdy sufficient to face up to enough snow-hundreds, and young-plant operations are normally significant-tech plenty of to keep backup turbines on hand to preserve a snug setting for seedlings and clones, TPS Labs’ Garcia stated.

Village Farms Global, a single of the greatest producers of greenhouse tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers in North The united states, converted 50 % its 1.3 million-square-foot Texas greenhouse amenities to hemp.

The enterprise reported very last week that operations have ongoing uninterrupted amid the latest energy outages and h2o-offer shortages that a great deal of Texas professional since of the winter storm.

Ready, set, plant!

Planting outdoor is safe and sound now, but Texas farmers will want to transfer fast to get their seeds or younger plants in the ground ahead of Could 20.

Soon after that, the soil temperature receives also heat and seeds will not germinate, reported Troy Owens, a farmer in Bay City, Texas, who grows natural and organic corn and natural and organic hemp.

Past calendar year, he planted 500 acres of hemp for grain and utilized rooster manure fertilizer, only to have rains clean out the crop.

By the time he replanted, the ground temperature was much too very hot and he dropped significantly of his crop.

“I feel relaxed planting immediately after the last freeze, all the way up to May well 20,” Owens said.

Owens reported he waited to plant his corn and designs to sow hempseed this 7 days, even though the fields are however a little bit damp. This year, Owens has scaled again his hemp manufacturing to 150 acres.

Laura Drotleff can be reached at [email protected]