Hype builds for industrial hemp
A hemp conference is coming to Little Rock, Arkansas in February.
The goal of the two-day event is to inform farmers about the pros and cons of adding industrial hemp to their crop rotations. Speakers include farmers already growing it, soil scientists, marketers, and regulators. 
The business side of hemp production will get its own session. Most of what's produced in Arkansas right now is primarily processed into CBD oil, but that could change soon.
“Hemp is now being processed economically into construction materials such as ‘hemp wood’ and insulation," says John Workman, president of the Arkansas Hemp Association, which is running the event. "A manufacturing facility has opened up in Kentucky to make hemp wood. That market will require different varieties and different planting methods than what we currently do. It’s a few years off probably.”
VIP tickets to a similar expo in Michigan sold out quickly after the event was announced.
Hemp could be lucrative for farmers. An acre of corn might amount to $300 to $500 in profit, and tobacco up to $3,000, whereas farmers expect some strains of hemp to reach $10,000 or higher.
Some states, including Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Michigan and others, have recently made hemp-growing legal. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from being included under the Controlled Substances Act and began considering it an agricultural product. We can expect interest to keep rising.
Farmers must be careful that their hemp doesn't contain too much THC. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says any hemp containing over 0.3 percent THC must be destroyed. Interested farmers and processors must undergo an FBI background check before they can begin growing.
A story we wrote on Kentucky's HempWood facility was the most visited article on our site throughout the entire year of 2019.
HempWood is a reverse-engineered wood substitute with advantages over traditional oak hardwood, says Fibonacci, the company behind it. Those include a higher availability, a much quicker grow time of six months, and a 20 percent higher density. HempWood can be used in furniture, flooring, and other woodworking projects.

"We're taking something that grows in six months and we're able to able to replicate, if not out perform, a tropical hardwood that grows in 200 years," Wilson said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday. Wilson and Congressman James Comer cut the ribbon at the ceremony, later demonstrating how HempWood logs are manufactured.

HempWood is available in blocks, pre-sawn boards, flooring, and finished products such as cutting boards and skateboards at prices lower than oak.



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About the author
Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected].