Hemp business seems to be to fibers for potential money crop

By Nathan Vickers

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DESOTO, Kansas (KCTV) – As the hemp industry gains momentum in the Midwest, industry players are investigating the plant’s commercial uses.

Shelli Hornberger, COO of America’s Hemp Academy in De Soto, believes the plant has incredible potential.

The academy trains breeders and newcomers to the industry in planting, harvesting and marketing the plants.

They are also researching possible products and uses for hemp.

“There are endless possibilities,” says Hornberger. “We’re launching a hemp food line with cookie dough and pizza and protein bites.”

Allen Wolf teaches in a laboratory about the extraction of oil, the processing of hemp flour and the use of the actual fibers of the plant.

“I think the focus will be more and more on industrial hemp, where we can get more hemp fiber,” said Wolf.

Hemp fibers can be mixed with lime to make “hemp concrete,” blocks of sturdy, fire-resistant material that are suitable for insulation and, depending on the mix, strong enough to be used as the main material. Hempcrete houses are becoming increasingly popular as expensive building materials push builders to alternatives.

The fiber can also be compressed into a fibreboard material. Hornberger sees potential in this as a more sustainable product than conventional sawn timber.

“You can produce the amount of hemp in a year that trees could produce,” she said.

Hornberger said the biggest problem facing the hemp industry in Kan. and Mo. is the lack of growers, buyers and processors.

“It’s not a traditional row culture,” she said. “It takes extra time and effort.”

Both states once produced more hemp than any other region in the United States. Today the industry is still thriving, but stakeholders believe the harvest will one day have potential.

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