WAAY 31 got a closer look at North Alabama’s first industrial hemp crop.On Wednesday, we took a tour of five high-tech farms including one of the few industrial hemp crops being grown in the state.
The tour kicked off at the Alabama Agricultural Research Station, where this year they are growing industrial hemp for the first time. Dr. Ernst Cebert is heading up the growing program at Alabama A&M. He said they got a late start to growing the hemp this year because the state didn't issue permits until around March.
Because of this, he said the hemp isn't as tall as it should be so it's a little bit harder for them to determine how well hemp is grown in Alabama's climate. He says next growing season, they'll get their permits months earlier.
"The next season will be definitely a real vision of what can happen in the hemp industry," Cebert said.
The tour also stopped by a farm's irrigation lake that provides water to the crops within a half mile distance of the farm, so even in times of drought,they'll still have enough water supplied to them.
The Madison County Soil and Conservation District provides assistance to all private and public land owners. They've been hosting these tours for about 18 years, and said each year they highlight different types of farming operations and crops in different parts of the county.
"It's very important that people know just how important ... big agriculture is in our community," Laurie Gibson, who works for the soil and conservation district in Jackson County said.
The conservation district says it wants to continue doing these bus tours for years to come. They said whenever they decide to do another one people can contact them directly in order to sign up.