South Dakota hemp backers hopeful about planting this year

Published 6:01 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2021

PIERRE, S.D.  — South Dakota hemp farmers are gearing up for the growing season while lawmakers tinker with a bill that would allow them to plant a crop this year.

A key change to the original bill would permit year-round applications to grow, rather than a 60-day window. Another amendment lowers the entry barrier of five outdoor acres to half an acre and allows for indoor commercial greenhouses.

“The bill has many good changes for the industry,” said Rep. Caleb Finck, of Tripp, who introduced the legislation.

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The House passed the original version 58-11 and the Senate passed the amended version 27-6. Finck is optimistic that the House will approve the changes and that Gov. Kristi Noem will sign it.

The measure contains an emergency clause, which means it goes into effect immediately rather than the usual July 1 start date, the Yankton Press and Dakotan reported.

Derrick Dohmann, sales manager for Horizon Hemp Seeds in Willow Lake and vice president of the South Dakota Industrial Hemp Association, said dropping the 60-day application limit would provide a tremendous boost to the state’s launch of the crop.

“For most farmers, they were a bit rushed,” he said. “They were uncertain or weren’t thinking about planting hemp in December.”

A North Dakota native, Dohmann has been working during the past five years with producers and companies in other states and Canada. The experience, including interactions with growers in North Dakota and Minnesota during the past two growing seasons, has provided valuable knowledge and contacts about the crop and industry, he said.

“We’re working to help more producers understand hemp and get into the business. During this first year, I think many of them are waiting to see how things turn out,” he said. “North Dakota started in 2015, so they have been growing (hemp) for six seasons, and up in Canada, they have been working on it for 20 years.”