Hurricane Florence Updates
Mon., Sept. 17, 2:30 p.m.
We have cut to the chase; listen here:
The summary: If you need them, email them.
Those email addresses are:
Beyond that, as we reported earlier, the annual THC compliance inspections have been postponed due to Hurricane Florence. Farmers participating in the industrial hemp pilot are instructed to first email the NCDA via the above email addresses before harvesting their hemp crops.
Additionally, license application reviews are on pause until operations resume.
Fri., Sept. 14, 2:30 p.m.
“It was two or three days of panic,” says Butler. “I’ve been on the phone for the past few days with farmers across the state. We are rerouting volunteers to help people get their harvests out of the ground.”
“The heavy rains have pressed people,” he says, adding, “We don’t want those plants waterlogged before harvest.”
Butler says the saving grace is that many hemp farmers had already begun their harvests. He also said the farm he’s associated with, Franny’s Farm in Leicester, N.C., was able to harvest its five acres of hemp.
It’s other farmers that Butler’s concerned about. “The guys down east had started their harvest, too,” he says, “but they had so much more than we had. While we have five acres they have more than 50.”
Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a category one hurricane, however the Carolinas and other southern states are preparing for a wet weekend and bracing for potential floods.
Farmers from Appalachian Growers hustle to harvest and process approximately 19,000 hemp plants ahead of Hurricane Florence. Sept. 11, 2018. Video by Grant Baldwin.
Thurs., Sept. 13, 4:30 p.m.
The now-category two hurricane is drenching the coast as I write, and I think everyone is bracing to see what happens next. What we know for sure is we’re about to get a lot of rain.
Hang tight, everyone.
Wed., Sept. 12, 10:30 a.m.
The number is (866) 645-9403. It operates from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
“A jump in strength to a Category 5 hurricane is possible Wednesday to Thursday, before some weakening may take place prior to landfall to end the week,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
Earlier in the week, it was thought Hurricane Florence would make landfall near Wilmington, N.C. More recent predictions suggest Myrtle Beach, S.C. will take the brunt of the storm with inland flooding expected.
View this post on Instagram
Thinking of the hemp farmers in the Carolinas working overtime to harvest their crops ahead of Hurricane Florence. 🌱🌱🌱 This scene is from our visit to @appalachiangrowers yesterday. Turn up the volume to get a sense for how hard it was raining. No one complained. No one paused. And every bit of hemp received star treatment. ✊✊✊ I imagine similar scenes on farms of all kinds across the Carolinas today. Send your local farmers some love and encouragement; they’re busting tail for us. ❤❤❤ #NCfarmers #SCfarmers #HempLife #HempFarms #CannabisCommunity
This video represents 10 seconds from one of several downpours that occurred Tuesday. It was day eight of the farm’s first harvest.
Work on the farm begins at 6:30 a.m. and often stretches past midnight. Hurricane Florence represents yet another challenge during an already challenging first year for the fledgling farm.
“We have to try to save the crown jewels,” farmer Andrew Lipsky, 29, says.
He and Doty, 25, collect the hemp from the field. Doty is seen harvesting via a CCN Instagram post embedded below.
Together, on Tuesday, the two men — the only dads in the crew they’ll have you know — harvested the crowns from 1,000 plants on the farm’s bottoms near the Little Tennessee River.
The rain makes the plants heavier and the work more taxing.
The crew expects the rains from Hurricane Florence to flood the river and the low lying areas of the farm.
The farm’s bottoms contain approximately 5,000 of the 19,000 hemp plants on the farm.
View this post on Instagram
Dody harvesting hemp at @appalachiangrowers today. Each time he tops and tosses the crown of a plant he yells, “Bud!” 🌱🌱🌱 The farm crew is working to clear “the crown jewels” from a lower field near the Little Tennessee River ahead of Hurricane Florence. #NChemp #NCfarmers #HempHarvest #Carolinas #CannabisNews
Mon., Sept. 10, 7 p.m.
The beginning of September is hemp harvest time in the Carolinas, and Hurricane Florence is goofing up everyone’s plans — including the N.C. Department of Agriculture‘s.
Hurricane Florence was upgraded to a category four hurricane this afternoon. It is aimed directly at the North Carolina coast and expected to make landfall later this week. While many are gathering supplies, hemp farmers are attempting to save their crops.
Late in the afternoon on Mon., Sept. 10, 2018, Eastern Agricutural Consultants posted what appears to be an email from the NCDA regarding the 2018 hemp harvest.
Thomas Laundon, of Eastern Agricutural Consultants, was good enough to forward to the email to us, which you can read in its entirety here. He says it was forwarded to him from one of his farming clients.
It seems Hurricane Florence’s timing has impeded the NCDA from testing the hemp plants for cannabidiol (CBD) and terahydrocannabinol (THC) levels. Per state law, hemp plants that contain more than .3 percent THC must be destroyed.
From the NCDA email, as shared by Eastern Agricutural Consultants:
While our intention is to test all growers prior to harvest if possible, we do not wish to do so and cause our farmer’s to lose their crop. Based on our current storm information, NCDA&CS will allow industrial hemp growers with material ready to harvest to move forward with that harvesting process this week to limit losses from the storm.
The email continues:
Our goal will be to resume testing once the storm has passed and conditions are safe across the state. We ask growers to resume your notifications to us once Florence has passed and your crop evaluated.
Carolina Cannabis News is working to independently confirm the information in the email; an after-hours voicemail was not immediately returned.
In 2017, several farmers were forced to destroy crops when their plants were found to have surpassed the .3 percent THC limit. As reported by the Southeast Farm Press at the time:
“You should understand that there are risks involved. Even if you do everything correctly, if your plants test over that 0.3 percent limit, they have to be destroyed,” Febles said. Of the 121 growers who were licensed to grow industrial hemp in North Carolina this year, 10 had to destroy their crops because the THC level went above the 0.3 percent limit. “We are just beginning to learn what causes the THC spikes in North Carolina,” Febles said.
The lack of crop insurance for the fledgling pilot program is a problem. As with the crops that were destroyed in 2017, there isn’t a ‘plan b’ or crop insurance coverage for North Carolina hemp farmers to fall back on. From the N.C. Industrial Hemp Association’s FAQ page regarding crop insurance, “The (N.C. hemp) industry is still in its infancy. The market must establish itself but insurance companies are looking closely at the industry.” Farmers like Bobby Degorter, known on Instagram as JahWorksFarm, posted an image on Monday afternoon of the hemp harvest in progress at Blue Ridge Farms in Asheville, N.C.
Meanwhile, reporters from Carolina Cannabis News are in the Appalachian mountains covering the hemp harvest at a farm there and finding the rain is also gumming up the process.
Stay tuned for more as Hurricane Florence nears the Carolinas.
Image credit: NASA, WikiCommons
BY Rhiannon Fionn
Editor & Publisher
Rhiannon Fionn is an award-winning journalist based in Charlotte, N.C.