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Extreme weather events have been a large part of the daily news cycle throughout 2020 — which is saying a lot considering what has happened this year.
The visceral impact of climate change and global warming has arrived on people’s front doorsteps. In the second half of August 2020, more than a million acres of land in California burned on account of widespread wildfires. The air quality of the state has been reaching levels of toxicity never before seen, and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes.
The recent extreme weather events have had an impact on our agriculture, including domestic industrial hemp cultivation. So, what has happened in the last couple of weeks and months, and what can consumers expect moving forward? Also — is there any way to help out?
Weather conditions that pose an immediate risk to agriculture in the United States, and more specifically to hemp cultivation are wildfires, extreme temperature fluctuations, droughts, and flooding.
As the wildfires rage in Northern California, Southern California, and Oregon, thousands of acres of cannabis crops are at high risk of being destroyed. Many industrial hemp farmers are worried about having to evacuate their properties and leave their harvests to be engulfed by flames.
If the region’s hemp crops aren’t directly being damaged by the fire, they also must endure the hazardous conditions that large wildfires produce. This includes low sunlight penetration, airborne ash and debris, poor air quality, and an inability for farmers to attend crops with as much attention due to dangerous conditions.
Hemp — through which CBD is extracted — is harvested throughout most of the United States, from California to North Dakota to North Carolina. Montana, Colorado, and Kentucky produced the most hemp in 2019, with Oregon rounding out the top 5 hemp-producing states in 2019.
According to data from the Department of Agriculture, over 7,100 acres produced hemp in Oregon in 2019. In 7 major counties in Northern California starting from Marin and up, there are roughly 2,000 acres of produced hemp. Meanwhile, just to the east, Colorado was the nation’s second-largest producer at over 20,000 acres.
While growers in Oregon and California have been battling flames, Colorado growers have been seeing weather problems of their own recently that could impact their harvests.
A recent weather trend that has hit the mountain states in the last couple of weeks are abnormal drops in temperature. These “flash freezes,” in which the temperatures can make a 70-degree swing in one day, is incredibly damaging to hemp harvest.
Colorado hemp farmers have very little time to prepare their outdoor crops for such drastic temperature changes, especially if it’s accompanied by 9 inches of snow that can break plant stems and crush branches.
Loss of industrial hemp farmland and farming due to wildfires is not only tragic for the farmers — it’s also bad for consumers who depend on CBD production. A year with less crop yield could end up leading to higher product pricing and shorter supply.
So, what does this all mean for consumers? It’s hard to say with definitive authority that costs of hemp-derived goods like CBD will rise, but it is very likely it will be the case. When the fires begin to subside, we’ll have a more accurate reading just to how many acres were lost.
Marijuana Business Daily interviewed one cannabis distributor who said that even for those plants that make it through the fires, their quality will still be up in the air.
“It’s really hard to tell until the crop is finished and then it’s been tested, as to whether it’s had any impact,” said Amanda Reiman. “I’m knocking on all the wood.”
For now, general speculation suggests there will be less high-quality CBD flower to cultivate when the dust settles. This is on top of CBD emerging as — literally — a growing industry. It is poised to grow $3.5 billion from 2020 – 2024 after years of rapid growth.
“We expect that the market for demand of this quality to be steadily increasing as it has been,” said Jared Fizek, Cannessentials CEO. “But accordingly, the price for specific products may increase with more limited availability this season.”
Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center will be releasing information later this month about some impacts the industry may see.
For now, supply and stock of quality CBD products are readily available in our online store.
The situation is hard to comprehend, and sadly it will not be an isolated case of bad circumstances, but rather the new normal if our environmental protection regulations and carbon output do not subside.
We can all do more to help reduce our carbon footprint and treat the planet in a better way. Some organizations like the American Farmland Trust have created an initiative called “Farmers Combat Climate Change.” This initiative is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by spreading regenerative agriculture practices and permanently protecting farmland.
As the impact of climate change continues to be studied, we all must support each other and help our agricultural industries adapt to new and challenging circumstances.
Please contact us with any questions regarding sustainable hemp and CBD cultivation.