DE SOTO, KS (KCTV) — As the hemp industry starts to take off in the Midwest, stakeholders in the industry are researching commercial uses for the crop.
Shelli Hornberger, the COO of America’s Hemp Academy in De Soto, believes the crop holds an incredible potential.
The academy educates growers and industry newcomers about planting, harvesting and marketing the crop.
They also research possible products and uses for hemp.
“There are endless possibilities,” Hornberger said. “We’re launching a hemp foods line with cookie dough and pizza and protein bites.”
Allen Wolf teaches classes in a lab on extracting oil, processing hemp flour and using the actual fibers of the plant.
“I think more and more of the emphasis will turn to industrial hemp where we can get more of the hemp fiber,” Wolf said.
Hemp fiber can be mixed with lime to make “hempcrete,” blocks of sturdy, fire resistant material useful for insulation and, depending on the mixture, strong enough to use as a primary material. Hempcrete houses are emerging as more popular choices as expensive construction materials drive builders to alternatives.
The fiber can also be compressed into a fiberboard material. Hornberger believes it has potential as a more sustainable product than traditional lumber.
“You can do the amount of hemp in a year that could take years for trees,” she explained.
Hornberger said the biggest problem with the hemp industry in Kan. and Mo. is a lack of growers, buyers and processors.
“It’s not a traditional row crop,” she said. “It takes extra time and extra effort.”
Both states once produced more hemp than any region in the US. Today, the industry is still sprouting, but stakeholders believe the harvest will one day have potential.
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