ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — On the heels of a record-breaking year of rain, this year is off to a very wet start. And all that rain is threatening one of North Carolina’s most popular and profitable crops — industrial hemp and the CBD it produces.
Far too many of rainy days and rainy nights add up, and all that moisture leads to mold.
The loose flowers are fast becoming the most desirable item. But that’s the growth stage during which the plant takes on the most moisture.
The 2018 season was not good for many farmers.
“We had the heaviest rainfall that we ever had in history, and so mold was a huge issue for all outdoor grows across the entire state,” said Franny Tacy, the first woman to plant as part of the state’s industrial hemp pilot program.
“We were very fortunate, but we did lose about the last 10 percent of our crop because it had just gotten too wet,” Tacy said.
At Franny’s Farmacy, the top seller now is the dense, green bud. Many customers prefer smoking instead of ingesting, or using CBD topically. Some say they feel the non-psychoactive healing effects more quickly by inhaling.
Tacy sends samples of the smokeable form to the lab to be tested for mold levels. But the goal is to catch any problem far before that.
“Mold is an issue all the way down the line, just got to manage it right from the beginning, all the way through the grow, the harvest, the dry, the processing, the packaging,” she said.
It’s once a hemp plant gets to this stage, the bud beginning to come into full flower, that it’s at its most vulnerable.
So is the business of what it brings.
“That plant absorbs water,” Tacy said. “You get microbial spores in the molds that just spread everywhere, and it’s a ruined crop. It is trash, not stash.”
Tacy and many other farmers are hoping for some sunny, warm weather soon. She said her marker for spring planting is Mother’s Day, but Mother Nature will be the one to make that call.