Hoosier farmers invest thousands of acres in hemp crop this season

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LOGANSPORT, Ind. - There's a new crop on Hoosier farms this season. Thousands of acres in Indiana are licensed to grow hemp. It is part of a research trial to help state leaders understand the crop.

For decades, Chuck Stephenson has planted corn and beans on his farm in Logansport. This season, he swapped some out those crops out for hemp. He planted about 450 acres of hemp in June which is half of his production.

"New industry I wanted to get in on the ground floor and maybe help take off and go," he said.

This is the first season Indiana farmers can make a profit on the hemp crop. Stephenson said his crops will be processed into CBD oil. Hemp can also be grown for fiber and grain.

"Just another commodity I can grow and kind of help out with the cash flow situation," he said. "Corn and bean prices have not been the best last couple years."

He said a company out of Kentucky called Third Wave Farms fronted the cost for almost everything. A spokesperson for Third Wave Farms said Stephenson is the only farmer in Indiana they are working with right now but they see opportunity for next season.

Stephenson planted hemp in June and expects to begin harvesting in a few weeks. Then he will find out if the investment was worth it.

"The big deal will be when we go through the extractor and see what the yield is and go through there," he said.

Stephenson said Third Wave Farms has a facility in Kokomo where dryers will dry the hemp to a certain percent. Then he said the company will move the product to Michigan City, Indiana to extract the oils.

According to the Office of Indiana State Chemist, Stephenson is one of 130 growers in Indiana this year with roughly 5,300 acres licensed for outdoor and about 400,000 sq ft indoor.

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