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Kansas farmers begin planting hemp

Posted at 5:16 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 08:42:12-04

DE SOTO, Kan. — It's a new era for Kansas farmers, as hemp is being planted for the first time in decades.

After months of anticipation, farmers like Bobby Gabriel can start plowing the land to grow hemp on 80 acres of land.

"This is something new right here, this whole hemp deal is something brand new," Gabriel said.

On Monday, Gabriel and many other surrounding farmers got together to weigh how many hemp seeds can go into each bin on the tractor before the planting began.

The bag Gabriel used cost $200,000, adding to the pressure to make sure everything is counted and used correctly.

"It’s been a lot of stress because the seed being so expensive," he said.

Others, like Margit Kaltenekker-Hall, decided to plant in a greenhouse rather than the field.

"Just try and experiment on the one hand, right, but the good news is it grows naturally here, so it’s conducive to the hot climate. It will be fine. I imagine it will be a good crop," Kaltenekker-Hall said.

Both Kaltenekker-Hall and Gabriel have suffered through the hardships of being in the agriculture industry.

"The way crop prices are and everything, I mean, the potential of hemp is huge compared to corn and soy beans. There is a lot of risk involved in hemp," Gabriel said.

It's a risk they're willing to gamble on to keep the farms in the family.

"Hopefully we won’t get any bad storms or anything like that. With agriculture though, you get to work with nature. It's just the nature of it," Kaltenekker-Hall said.

"Hopefully, we got the buyers already in place, so we’re excited about that. We just got to make it happen now," Gabriel said.

Because it's so new to all of the farmers, they are making this a trial year to see what they did wrong or right so that next season, they can know what to do.