The pains of the hemp industry have been known since its legalization. After the Farm Bill of 2018 removed the plant from the list of controlled substances in the United States, many people jumped onto the hemp wagon—some without having dealt with this type of crop before.
However, this year has been one of the roughest. 2019 saw the plantation of around 230,000 acres, an increase from 2018 that led to unprecedented overproduction. Many surplus products were stored over the winter to be sold this year, bringing prices down. Combining that with the COVID-19 pandemic and general uncertainty about regulations, 2020 saw a decrease in hemp licensed acreages since 2014, when the Farm Bill pilot program began.
This fact does not seem to stop the industry, though. Many states have entered the hemp race for the first time this year. According to a report made by hempindustrydaily.com, more states are producing hemp in 2020 than ever before. The "2020 US Hemp Harvest Outlook: Top Hemp-Producing States" report points to these next states as the top growers and details their current outlook.
Michigan presents many opportunities for farmers to sell their products, but some hurdles have stopped the state from growing. With 13,225 planted acres and 553 licensed growers, producers haven't been able to form a network since the state doesn't list its industry participants publicly. Still, there's no explicit law against smokable hemp, and farmers are allowed to sell to licensed marijuana processors, so there's room to grow.
Florida seems to be one of the most promising states in the union in regards to hemp growing. After many losses in different agricultural areas, the state has stepped up its CBD regulation game. Agricultural officials are visiting crops in consumers' interest, and these regulations give the advantage to farmers against other states. The 16,000 licensed acres are destined to grow in upcoming years.
With a tradition in growing tobacco, the state of North Carolina was already equipped for the hemp boom that came after legalization. There are 16,433 licensed acres, and many farmers focus on the production of CBD oil and smokable hemp. The latter product survived an attempt to prohibit it by regulators, thanks to the hemp growing community's pressure.
The agricultural industry in Illinois prepared its farmers to receive the hemp industry with open arms. And they got to work—with 26,264 planted acres, the state aims to become one of the biggest growers. Still, they're not exempt from difficulties thanks to the overproduction of last year. Because of this, the state loosened regulations on the selling to marijuana processors and the usage of CBD oil in food items.
Inexperienced hemp growers in Oregon added to the overproduction of 2019, a result of farmers' great enthusiasm. The state had legalized marijuana, so it had a robust industry when hemp came. Many growers diversified, and Oregon has 29,604 planted acres to prove it. Without many restrictive regulations –except for CBD additives in alcohol– it seems business will continue to grow despite recent challenges.
New York was building itself up to be one of the biggest hemp-growing states in 2019. Unfortunately, the coronavirus crisis plus the glut from last year forced farmers to slow down production. New York is also late in the regulatory game, since no clear regulations have been imposed, adding uncertainty on the rules about manufacturing and distribution. Still, the groundwork is there with 29,777 planted acres.
The Bluegrass State has been one of the leaders in the hemp boom after 2018's Farm Bill. With 32,000 planted acres, the state has proven to be a big player. This is not to affirm that they are without difficulties. The lack of regulation has slowed down production. Farmers who were harvesting specifically for CBD are now looking to grow for grain and fiber, which are still more profitable than corn and soy.
The state has slept in its laurels regarding CBD regulations. There still isn't a legal framework for CBD food additives, and there's a worry about cross-pollination with the legal marijuana crops. However, with 32,504 planted acres, California is just waiting to explode in the hemp business, honoring its long agricultural tradition.
The 34,000 planted acres in Arizona are a showcase of the state's ability to grow hemp in different seasons, not just one. However, farmers are still looking for the right plant's genetics that could adapt perfectly to Arizona's climate. Farmers are not hindered from restrictive CBD regulations since they are inexistent. Still, they've had to learn to coexist with fellow legal marijuana growers.
Colorado has maintained its leadership as the biggest hemp-growing state with 40,391 planted acres. The state had pushed hemp production even before the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program was introduced. Farmers have the benefits of a robust regulatory framework, and CBD products are legal for consumption as food additives. Even with the hurdles brought by the coronavirus pandemic, producers continue to see demand.