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South Dakota poised to become major player in hemp production, processing

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.  — The state of South Dakota ranked number two in the nation for the number of acres planted to hemp in 2021 and is poised for continued expansion of the cash crop. While the cash crop doesn’t come close to matching plantings of established grains like corn and wheat, the newcomer is in the running to become a significant economic driver in states like South Dakota.

Of the 1,737 acres planted in 2021, the state’s Department of Ag and Natural Resource (DANR) reports that 1,674 of those acres were harvested. In 2022, they say 2,674 acres were planted and verified by DANR, 2,530 of which were harvested.

According to a report from South Dakota Industrial Hemp Association (SDIHA), the top states for acres planted in 2021 were Colorado 7,014, Montana 5,833, Tennessee 4,448, Minnesota 2,445 and Texas 2,145.

Those numbers look different in 2022, with the top five being Montana 2,998, South Dakota 2,540, Texas 1,600, Missouri 1,494 and Kentucky 1,328.

Notably, there has been a drop off in overall acres planted, with a considerable difference between Colorado’s 7,000+ in 2021 as compared to Montana’s 2,998 holding the top spot in 2022.

According to SDIHA President Ken Meyer, it’s a direct result from the amount of hemp in 2021 that was grown for CBD. “The market was over-produced for. This year, we’re seeing a correction for that in acres planted.”

Ken Meyer, President, SD Industrial Hemp Association

The 2018 Farm Bill allowed for the growth and sale of industrial hemp in the U.S. but South Dakota only gained access in 2021. Now in its second year, the SDIHA says South Dakota is in a good position despite its late arrival to the game.

“Fiber and grain is what our state is really set up to do,” said Meyer. Interest is high right now for those end products. South Dakota is positioned really well to take advantage of that.”

Derrick Dohmann, vice-president of the SDIHA agrees that South Dakota is finding its footing in the national market, pointing to two processing facilities, owned by Meyer and Peterson, as the means to boost the industry in the state.

According to Dohmann, South Dakota is the only state expected to have two operational fiber processing plants within the next year.

Prior to fiber processing plants coming on line in South Dakota, producers had two options, one in Montana and one in Kansas, to market to.  Transportation costs were a problem for South Dakota growers. Industry leaders says that with facilities located in the state, hemp farmers  will benefit as will the growth of processing capacity as producers in other states ship their hemp to South Dakota for processing.

According to Meyer, the hemp world is looking to South Dakota to be one of the largest producers of industrial hemp because of its located in an ideal growing region for the crop. Additionally, equipment used to plant and harvest other crops that many farmers already have, can be used to plant and harvest hemp, with few modifications.

Add the drought resistant characteristic of hemp, and supporters and growers expect subsequent years to show expansion in hemp production in the state and around the country.

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