BERRIEN COUNTY — Fall is closer than many of us might like to admit, and that means farmers will start harvesting their crops.
Some of those crops might be different than we’re used to seeing.
Instead of corn and beans, expect leafy greens. There are nearly 65,000 hemp plants growing at a farm in Baroda!
The guys growing them say this is the future of agriculture.
Scott Schmaltz was born and raised on this farm. For most of that time, he’s been growing some pretty familiar crops.
“Primarily corn, soybeans and wheat,” said Schmaltz.
But earlier this spring, Schmaltz met Robert Hamilton who wanted to grow something completely different: hemp.
“It’s got a little subclimate in the area. It’s a really good area to grow things,” said Hamilton.
Schmaltz says Hamilton took five hours to give him the sales pitch.
“We just sat down and hashed it out and decided to move forward,” said Schmaltz.
The past few months haven’t been like other growing seasons.
“It’s just definitely a different type of crop for me,” said Schmaltz.
Between hand-weeding countless rows and maintaining a drip irrigation system, hemp is a little more labor-intensive.
“Corn and soy is more of a ‘set it and forget it,’” said Hamilton.
These fields have been a big change for surrounding farmers, too; hemp looks a lot like marijuana.
“A lot of the neighbors are definitely nosy and they’re wanting to know what’s going on over there,” said Schmaltz.
Hamilton says he just tries to be as open and honest as possible.
“I’ve got educational signs at every spot down the field saying, ‘Here’s what this his, here’s my phone number, call me,'” said Hamilton.
When those calls come in, Schmaltz and Hamilton explain there’s nothing in these fields to get high on. Hemp can be used to make anything from animal feed to paper.
That crop will then be turned into CBD oil.
“A little education and people are usually pretty good with it,” said Schmaltz.
Schmaltz also said that hemp crops aren’t affected by the current tariff war with China, things like corn and soy are.