ROCKTON, Ill (WIFR) -- Rockton farmer Eddie Freedlund grows corn and soy beans on the Freedlund Farm. In 2019 he added Hemp to the list. "It's a lot more interesting than corn, and soy beans, and wheat and alfalfa," he explains. "Thought it'd be fun to grow something that I use."
Courtesy Eddie Freedlund
In 2018 Hemp became legal to grow. In April 2019 farmers obtained licenses. "It was kind of a learning year," says Freedlund. "This year we were starting plants in May, and not getting them into the ground until June or even July. This year we should have a big jump start on that."
He says the season had a late start, but with licenses in place 2020 should run smoother. Freedlund says it's tricky to tackle Hemp.
"It's definitely different than traditional row crops," he explains to 23 News. "They are susceptible to a lot of different insects, moisture, either too much water or not enough water, wind especially toward harvest, they get a little top heavy."
He uses natural remedies like garlic or lemon oil to get rid of the insects, and greenhouses to protect against high wind and rain. Freedlund grew two acres worth of Hemp last year, which totals 2,000 plants. He sends his product to be extracted and processed into oil for profit.
"I think the numbers will go up on the amount of growers licenses this year," he says. Hemp can be used to replace plastic, paper and building materials. Many use it for medicinal purposes, or as dietary supplements.
According to Freedlund, last year banks would not lend for Hemp related businesses. He says this year a few credit unions will allow it. He also says there was not crop insurance for industrial Hemp, which he anticipates will change to expand businesses.