PEKIN, Ill. — “If I grow it, where do I sell it?”
That’s typically among the first questions asked by farmers considering if they should set aside some acres to grow industrial hemp.
Kevin Pilarski, chief commercial officer at Revolution Enterprises, Delavan, Ill., said the company is ready to jump start hemp production in Illinois by contracting farmers for substantial acres for the upcoming growing season.
Revolution produces pharmaceutical-grade cannabis and extracts cannabidiol from medicinal cannabis plants grown at the site for extracts and edibles.
The company produces various CBD formulations in differing ratios of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol for medicinal purposes under Illinois’ medical marijuana program.
Similarly, Revolution will extract CBD from industrial hemp — limited to 0.3 percent THC per dry weight — and used for a myriad of health and wellness products. Fifty percent of all hemp products in the market today are CBD or CBD-related.
Different varieties of hemp can be grown, depending on the end-use for fiber, grain or flower.
Revolution will focus on the floral material for CBD extraction at this point.
“It’s important we have a standard. We have a proposed standard which we call 10-10. It’s 10 percent CBD content with 10 percent moisture and then you can have a discount or a premium for that standard. Obviously that’s going to have to be accepted by the industry but we’d like to start that discussion sooner rather than later,” Pilarski said.
Farmer education and crop advisory advocacy is a key piece of the partnership.
Revolution would provide step by step cultivation instructions from planting to harvest. Crop advisers would conduct educational seminars around the Delavan facility and surrounding counties with local farmers already familiar with the company.
Incentivizing farmers to grow hemp will be an initial challenge with a goal of reaching 200 acres. Revolution has a capacity of 500 acres of hemp production for CBD extraction, according to Pilarski.
“We’ve got to incentivize farmers to try. If you don’t incentivize them you’re not going to get them to try. We’re proposing that we’re going to compensate farmers at a greater rate per acre than they’re currently making with corn at a $1,000 minimum per acre,” he said.
Additionally, some form of discount or premium to a pre-determined yield and CBD concentration will be required.
Compensating farmers with a forward contracted per acre growing fee, held in escrow, will further provide the needed incentive to capture significant acreage and flower production, according to Pilarski.
Revolution also has nearly 500 proprietary genetic varieties, including those that would best match Illinois’ soils and climate.