Hemp approved for harvest in south-central Kansas – Pratt Tribune

Melisa Nelson-Baldwin, a co-owner of South Bend Industrial Hemp, is examining her hemp plants before harvesting them on Oct. 14 in Great Bend. [Alice Mannette/HutchNews]

For Melisa Nelson-Baldwin, data is key. And what this trained crop research scientist sees is hemp is a great crop for Kansas farmers.

So much so that Nelson-Baldwin and her partners, husband Aaron Baldwin and brother-in-law Richard Baldwin, are ready to build a hemp fiber manufacturing plant in Great Bend – the first one in Kansas.

“We want to be up and running by the end of the year,” Nelson-Baldwin said.

The Baldwins grow both industrial cannabidiol oil and fiber hemp at their farm, South Bend Industrial Hemp, in Barton and Stafford counties. Aaron and Richard Baldwin are fourth-generation farmers in Great Bend, while Nelson-Baldwin grew up on a farm in Holton. The three work with both forms of industrial hemp on 55 acres of their traditional grain farm.

“My brother and I were looking for other avenues to diversify the farm,” Aaron Baldwin said.

Kansas Grown

Industrial hemp, used for CBD, CBN, rope, fabric and grain, is a variety of the same species of plant as cannabis; however, this crop – industrial hemp – yields low levels of THC at .3%, the chemical known to make humans “high” or place them in an altered state. CBD and other cannabinoids come from a different plant than hemp fiber.

This is the second season industrial hemp is allowed to be grown in Kansas. The state monitors the crop and tests it for THC levels before it is harvested. If the crop has too much THC, it must be burnt, and the farmer loses their crop.

Once the crop is approved for harvest, the farmer must cut their crop within a 10-day window. After the plant is harvested, the Baldwins conduct third-party testing for their CBD crop. They also dry their own plants.