CBD is booming. But US farmers struggle to keep up with demand

People have been growing hemp illegally for years. Farmers have kept their operations quiet and developed their own techniques that are all a little different, said Christian Cypher, a senior vice president at Pyxus International who is leading the agriculture company’s cannabis work.

“Growing hemp has been more religion than science,” he said.

Most hemp farmers are growing the plant like a tomato, a process that’s expensive and intensive, said David Williams, an agronomist at the University of Kentucky who studies hemp. This model works for marijuana because you want the flower to look and smell nice. For hemp that will be used to extract CBD, this system is incredibly expensive and unnecessary since you only care about what’s inside the flower, Williams said.

“If the molecule is of interest and becomes broadly distributed, it will need to be far more efficient than what we have today,” he said.

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