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Upcoming virtual conference to focus on uses of hemp

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Online conference

PLATTSMOUTH – It’s a pretty incredible plant.

That what Annette Wiles said about hemp.

“There are over 50,000 uses,” she said.

Annette and her husband, Bruce, own a large chunk of land north of Plattsmouth on which lies their business, The Hop Yard, a destination beverage tasting room.

They began growing hemp in 2019 as one of 10 statewide growers in a pilot program involving this plant.

They’ve started off small, but hope to grow the plant on a much larger scale.

They would like other ag growers to become interested in this plant and its potential.

That’s why they are co-hosting with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln the upcoming inaugural Nebraska Hemp Conference in support of hemp education.

The many uses for this plant run, well, into the tens of thousands, as Annette said.

For example, hemp can be made into industrial textiles like rope, twine, canvas, tarps and carpets to name a few.

Paper uses include printing paper, newsprint and cardboard/packaging.

Hemp can be turned into food supplements like margarine and salad or cooking oils.

Personal hygiene items like soap, shampoo, bath gels and cosmetics can be made with hemp.

Then there are consumer goods like apparel, diapers, handbags, denim, shoes and fine fabrics.

The agricultural benefits include weed suppression, pollen isolation and soil improvement in crop rotation, plus there’s less need for pesticides than most crops.

In fact, one acre of hemp has the ability to produce as much fiber as two to three acres of cotton, plus a single acre of hemp can produce as much paper as two to four acres of trees, according to Annette. It’s also sturdier and requires fewer chemical inputs in its manufacture.

“Hemp has been proven to remediate soil that was contaminated,” Annette added.

It can also be used to make a substance similar to steel, but is stronger and lighter, she said.

The two-day virtual conference, which will focus on growing the hemp industry in the Midwest, will be on March 25 and 26.

“We believe our extensive lineup of speakers will have much to offer for those interested in this budding industry in the state,” Annette said.

It will feature industry experts who will provide proven agronomic practices and insights to help growers make the best decisions for their farms. Several prominent speakers from around the country will be on-hand to discuss different types of hemp (CBD/floral, fiber and grain), market trends across the U.S., legal and banking considerations, and policy news. They will also outline several funding opportunities to growers and processors who are looking to expand their business in the state.

The conference will also include a “Grower’s Panel” during which several Nebraska hemp farmers will relay their experiences growing this new crop during the last season. They will also provide insight as to growing practices, pest and disease control, nutrient management, harvesting processes and more.

In addition, a networking segment, “Building the Hemp Supply-Chain in Nebraska,” will provide an opportunity for growers, suppliers, processors, brokers, local businesses and area organizations to connect with one another.

Bruce offered this tip that interested growers may not realize.

“You have to work it backwards. You need to find a market or a processing plant first and then grow it accordingly,” he said. “You have to market it first before you grow it.”

Tickets for this conference are $100 with a limited number available. To register or for more information, go to www.grownebraskahemp.com.

Proceeds will benefit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in support of hemp education.

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