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Ag Round Table Discussion on Industrial Hemp in Illinois

At the latest Ag Round Table, State Representative Dan Swanson talked about the latest addition to Illinois agriculture, industrial hemp.

The state of Illinois has begun accepting applications to grow industrial hemp since May of this year, after former Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation allowing for the cultivation of industrial hemp.

Industrial hemp plants are used in one of two ways, extracting CBD, a byproduct of the hemp plant that can be used for medicinal purposes like pain relief, and utilizing the fibrous material of the plant that can be used for paper, clothing, and plastics.

Guidelines for the growth of the plant have been outlined, with plants with a THC threshold of above 0.04% required to be destroyed, as well as plants grown with chemical pesticides.

Industrial hemp is also a target of the corn borer pest, a moth that feeds on grain, particularly corn. This insect has seen low populations in Illinois in recent years, but farmers who plan to grow industrial hemp are advised to watch corn borer population levels closely.

Representative Swanson outlines where these new farms are cropping up in Illinois…

“Hemp production predominately appears to be north of Springfield, kind of the northern part of the state, but we can also see several farms in southern Illinois too, though it is a little more scattered out. It certainly is an interesting new crop for farmers.”

In just the last year alone, over 22,000 acres have been approved for the growth of industrial hemp in the state of Illinois, with 600 of 900 applications to grow the plant approved.

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