The 2020 hemp season was a challenging one for growers in the US state of Illinois, reflected in recently released harvest statistics.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) final harvest numbers for the 2020 hemp growing season indicate 2,734 acres of hemp was planted, with 2,392 acres harvested. Last year, the total acreage harvested was 2,800 – so a significant drop that has been put down to COVID-19 and market related issues along with some processing problems initially.
“Despite these challenges, the Illinois hemp industry continued to demonstrate resilience and strength. IDOA remains committed to being a good partner to the industry, and we look forward to the 2021 growing season,” said IDOA’s David Lakeman.
In terms of what the harvest produced:
- 1,278,00 pounds of flower
- 39,000 pounds of seed
- 8,500 pounds of grain
- 48,000 pounds of fiber
IDOA issued 802 Hemp Growers licenses for the 2020 season, compared to 651 for 2019’s. In the 2019 season, 137 licensees failed to put in a crop, but there were no figures mentioned in this regard for 2020.
In 2015, the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program came into effect. This was followed then-Governor Bruce Rauner signing the state’s Industrial Hemp Act into law in 2018, saying the legislation just made good sense. His successor, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, has also been bullish on hemp’s future in Illinois, stating in 2019:
“Industrial hemp is a potentially billion-dollar industry that Illinois will now take part in. From farming and processing to sales and exports, this will have a massive impact on our state’s economy.”
In October last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the approval of Illinois’ plans under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program.
As in other states, Illinois farmers have faced the challenge of a hemp surplus on the market after the explosion of interest in cultivating the crop across most of the USA. As part of providing more opportunities for hemp growers, in 2020, IDOA developed a policy that enables licensed hemp growers to sell their crops to licensed cannabis cultivators for use in medical and adult-use cannabis products.