CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) – In the middle of the morning, John Straw starts on his four wheels and goes downhill.
"I try to make a journey through each area every day," he said. "Make sure they have enough water. Make sure they have adequate nutrition."
Straw in charge of all of these hundreds of plants is checked by TruHarvest Farms.
"There's only a lot of attention to detail," he gradually said.
Here they are not growing for ordinary farm products.
"We grow hemp for CBD oil," Straw said.
The rolling hills and large barn can be seen from Interstate 81, and its logo is certainly attractive.
"People see a marijuana leaf and they think, 'Ah, that's marijuana.' But it's not really," said Matt Hagan, owner of the farm.
Here at TruHarvest, it is actually hemp, a genetically modified plant with a high concentration of CBD and low THC.
"You could come out here and try to spend this stuff, but you will not go up. There is nothing to feel from you," Straw explained.
"The public must be aware that we need to be fulfilling .3 percent on THC," assured by Hagan.
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical that produces psychoactive effects.
"There are several threads of 30 percent marijuana. So you are looking at more THC 100x in recreational marijuana," Straw said.
Hemp on the other hand is grown from its fibers and cannabis properties, or CBD.
"This plant has so many healthy benefits for people with fibromyalgia, with joint pain, with inflammation, with sleep disorders which are worrying, the type of things, without the psychoactive effects you get from virginity," Hagan said. .
It was unsuccessful until Virginia Bill 2018 passed that hemp was allowed to grow in the state for purposes other than research.
"I think that an opportunity for commercial production of hemp in Virginia offers another chance for Virginia farmers to supplement their agricultural income," Erin Williams, hemp policy consultant for Virginia Agriculture Department.
And one of the first investors in the plant is to invest on a large scale, Matt Hagan, a race car driver and a cattle farmer.
"They say we're one of the largest in Virginia state and that means we're taking one of the biggest risks in the state of Virginia," he said.
A million dollars risk a multi-million dollar payment could have.
"Everyone says, 'you're going to be on the biggest dumps on the block or champagne bottles will be taking off them.' I don't know," said Hagan laughing.
He said that while it is exciting to look at the monetary potential, it is also a risk investment.
Hemp is commonly grown on the west coast where the climate is much more diverse than the east coast. There is little research on the best ways to grow hemp here in Virginia.
When Hagan looks at his 85 acres of farmland, he sees a lot of hard work.
"They say that this is one of the easiest crops to grow badly and one of the most difficult crops to grow well," he said.
The hemp was never left in Virginia and that is why Hagan enlisted the help of Straw.
It is a top specialty expert, though.
"I never grew a hemp in my life."
-Yeah is learning by the side of Hagan.
Hemp is challenging for various reasons. The first is, the lack of information on top. There is no research on what pesticides are to be used, what variety is best grown, or how to keep the plants from drowning in a wet, damp, Virginia climate.
"We're just doing up as we go," said the straw.
They are working with Virginia Tech and with the state to increase hemp research here in the state.
"We need to work with producers to collect university research but to research what is practical and how we can connect that message to other farmers and to make the whole industry stronger," Kelli Scott, Virginia Cooperative Extension agent, said.
"We want to see what grows best in our area and in our region and what the most CBD content produces and what will grow in the future," Hagan said.
Another challenge is the high price tag to get started.
"From start to finish, it is extremely expensive to grow this thing," explained Straw.
One hemp device could be anywhere from $ 3 to $ 6. They must be planted, inspected individually, and every detail documented.
"We have a dark green color," said Straw looking at one of plants closely. "They are resigning and growing well so far."
However, there are still a lot uncommon.
"We don't know how it will go out," Hagan said. "But without any risk, there's little reward."
Rewards are expected with great time.
"Failure is not a choice," Straw said. "We will do whatever we need to make this crop work."
By mid-June, they were almost planted. When the hemp is ready to remove, each stem will be about six feet high and four feet wide.
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