Top stories of 2018 in SLV: #7--Hemp future bright

This photo was taken on the Wright-Oakes Farm near Center, owned by Shanan Wright and Dion Oakes, during the 2017 growing season./Courtesy photo

VALLEY — Already becoming a viable alternative crop in the San Luis Valley, hemp received a boost in December with the passage of the Farm Bill, which removes industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. Valley and state elected officials encouraged the move.

Colorado has led the nation in hemp cultivation with more than 10,000 acres of the record 25,000 acres grown in 2017 and 27,000 acres anticipated in 2018 in Colorado alone.

Some of the largest hemp acreage in the state is grown in the San Luis Valley, which has become one of the most important centers of hemp activity in the United States. Hemp seems well suited to the Valley climate, requires less water than other crops, is resilient and relatively disease resistant and appears to have an expanding market, especially in organic markets.

Meeting production challenges, Power Zone has developed equipment specifically for hemp harvesting and production.

Hemp has a variety of uses from food to fabrics and paper to building materials. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

Alamosa County commissioners approved their first special use permit for the installation of a commercial greenhouse for industrial hemp on May 23 on the 1800 block of Eloquent Lane in Mosca. They approved the second industrial hemp greenhouse, to be located at 11350 Lane 12 North in Hooper, during their June 13th meeting.