Living the Dream: Jodie Haines

Jodi Haines

CEO

Alter Farms

Grants Pass, OR

The summer has been beautiful and the skies clear, unlike the last three years where fires have filled the Southern Oregon valleys with smoke. The giant oaks began dropping tons of developed acorns in August, early for this type of oak. This can indicate an early fall and although this will present challenges for cannabis growers, I really wonder how the hemp that’s all over my valley will fare. If rains force early harvesting, this could mean a great loss for many, partly due to inadequate drying space. When driving through Southern Oregon, it feels as though there is a CBD/hemp grow on every inch of available land, from tiny plots to hundreds of acres. I can’t help but question if we have really thought this through.

Last year, many saw the first big impact from hemp on their cannabis farms, with cultivators being seeded by themselves and/or their neighboring farms.

The market felt the hit for sure, and the shortage is palpable. Our farm is situated in a tight valley, and we did not have any hemp within miles of us last season. This year we do, and as I drive by, noticing the males towering over the ladies out in the fields, we know the threat to our farm. We’ve thought, let’s just go knock on the door and ask if they would mind if we pull their males, which of course is not a viable option, especially on the 90 acres that is potentially within the pollination zone.

When the adult-use market became saturated, many recreational cannabis farms turned to hemp to survive. The predicted revenues of this new crop have led to many more farmers and agricultural lands being turned into hemp fields. The surge of these licensed hemp grows put too large of demand on seed producers and, sadly, generated many bad actors and untrustworthy seeds. The lawsuits have started, and the rumors of tighter regulation are flying. It saddens me to see all the plastic mulching everywhere and the once berry fields and orchards removed, now filled with hemp.

If navigating through the cannabis industry doesn’t present enough challenges, let’s add cross contamination from hemp into the equation. As we look for ways to protect our crop, we plan for the worst. But there are larger, potentially more devastating consequences to Southern Oregon. What will come of the feral hemp in the ditches and fields? How will the cannabis growers that have been breeding in our valley for decades maintain genetic isolation and quality? Is the already known name and reputation of the region at risk?

Only time will tell, I guess.

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