Some hemp growers struggle to get water for their crops.
In Tennessee, hemp farmers have the opposite problem: They must grow a plant – one that doesn’t like soggy roots – in a climate with high humidity and more than 50 inches of rain a year.
It’s been a bumpy road for the emerging hemp industry in Tennessee, where growers are trying to adapt cultivars developed in arid Canadian and northern European markets for the humid southeastern United States.
“I lost 90% of my first crop,” said Harold Jarboe, who left the marijuana industry in Washington state three years ago to try his hand at hemp production in Readyville, southeast of Nashville. “I figured, OK, it can’t be any harder than marijuana. It’s the same plant, minus all the legal headaches.
“But it was harder than marijuana. It was like plopping an Englishman down on the equator – the plants were not happy.”
Still, Tennessee hemp entrepreneurs are