Industrial hemp new to Cummings Valley
October 26, 2019
Canadian grower SunSelect has been successfully producing tomatoes and peppers in their hydroponic greenhouse in Cummings Valley since 2015. Part of the original purchase by SunSelect was an additional 120 acres adjacent to the greenhouses that until 2019 had been leased to another grower. When that grower gave up the property, it became available for another Tehachapi area "first." In June, SunSelect began planting that acreage with industrial hemp. With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp was removed from the controlled substance list as it has less than .3 percent of the THC found in Cannabis. It is now listed as an ordinary agricultural commodity.
Industrial hemp is a main source of CBD oil used for pain and anxiety control and in pet products. SunSelect has a contract with another Canadian company doing business in the United States for processing the hemp.
Short winters and long summers make an ideal climate for hemp. There is only one crop produced a year, planted in June and harvested in October or November. It is cut to the ground and everything is used. The buds and flowers are used to make CBD oil. The leaves and stalks are used to make fabric and hemp rope. Hemp is known to have a very unpleasant taste and anyone who tries to smoke industrial hemp will be in for a very unpleasant surprise.
"This is an experiment for us," said SunSelect President Chad Ianneo. They are using the organic vegetable model for growing, using oils to control pests.
They have hired all new people for the project. "We want to use locals as much as possible," said Ianneo. He feels that domestic hemp production could be a great opportunity for the county and the city. SunSelect is working with Kern County, the City of Tehachapi, the Community of Stallion Springs and local law enforcement on the project. The company provides limited access and onsite security.
"In all, the growing process has been uneventful," said Ianneo. The company decided to install a fence when they discovered that the local deer found the young plants to their liking. The hemp was planted in sections and the company installed bright lights in the last-planted fields to speed up the plant growth; however, some of the neighbors found them disturbing. "We decided it was best to terminate our lighting experiment," said Ianneo.
Ianneo said that harvest is still scheduled for late-October or early November and the decision to plant again next summer will depend primarily on the volume and quality of this year's crop. "So far, we believe Cummings Valley is a great location for this crop," said Ianneo.