CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Most Wisconsin farmers could be found in their corn fields today, however several were spotted in a hemp field.
Just off of Highway 178, near lake Wissota, is what’s known as the Chippewa County Farm. More than a dozen variations of industrial hemp were planted there. UW-Madison Extension Chippewa County Division hosted Industrial Hemp Field day to allow others to checkout the crops.
“We’re looking at 18 different varieties from around the world and which ones can maybe produce the best grain or the best for future use if industrial hemp becomes more of a mainstream crop,” UW-Madison Extension Chippewa County Agricultural agent, Jerry Clark, said.
Clark said industrial hemp is considered a new crop in the industry since it has only been legal to plant since 2019. This year the research focus is on grain and fiber produced from the crops.
“Trying to investigate the uses for it, as well as, mainly studying the agronomic side of it,” Clark said. “The field day is to help educate personnel and any farmers that are interested in growing a new crop.”
UW-Madison Extension Buffalo County Agricultural Educator, Carl Duley, says the fiber and grain produced from industrial hemp has many different uses.
“Right now they are approved for human food, not for animal feed at this point, but they are used a lot in health food stores like granola,” Duley said. “There’s a lot of flour made after the oil is squeezed out.”
Overall, Duley says the main goal of the research is to see if the market for fiber and grain can expand.
“We don’t have markets right now, like I mentioned, ” Duley said. “There are some grain markets. Fiber markets are really, really limited to a couple of areas in the country.”
The field day was all about sharing this information with people in the area. Both Duley and Clark offered words of advice for people looking to plant hemp.
“For farmers it’s a niche market right now looking at it, so if there’s something you are thinking about doing, start small,” Clark said.
“Look at the data that we have,” Duley said. “It’s non-bias. It’s replicated in multiple sites, multiple states.”
For more information on the UW-Madison Division of Extension industrial hemp research click here.