In November of 2018 Tina Walker, the president of an Oklahoma-primarily based industrial hemp organization referred to as Botanic announced the harvest of 104 acres of hemp two weeks prior – the initially legal hemp crop grown in the state in generations.
The strain was referred to as Yuma Crossbow and it fired the initially arrow in the race to make industrial hemp one particular of the state’s major money crops.
The industrial hemp legislation had been signed into law by Governor Mary Fallen in April of that year and farmers have been eager to get began on this brand new chance. It was reported that 445 acres have been grown in the state correct off the bat.
It seemed like a thing brand new however it had a familiar really feel to it, like it had been right here just before and this was a return to our roots, the identical way it feels in each and every location exactly where hemp is re-introduced.
Absolutely everyone knows about the history of hemp in Kentucky. Books have been written about the hemp business in old Virginia. Pennsylvania hemp history is popular. We know it grew extensively in all of the original 13 colonies. Missouri is effectively recognized for hemp as is Wisconsin and Minnesota. All more than America we see histories of hemp. But Oklahoma? They grew hemp in Oklahoma? The answer is yes. How do you feel they roped these dogies? With excellent old hemp rope.
There have been hints of the old business. In many components of the state there have been vigorous stands of wild hemp, remnants of the previous.
Ryan Early, the CEO of Hempyre Genetics set about on a mission to uncover and gather seeds from wild hemp increasing on farms and woods to determine and create strains of hemp specifically adapted to the soil and climate of Oklahoma.
The history of hemp in Oklahoma has been speculated and hinted at but not a lot of facts are readily readily available. Some hemp was grown in the state but it was generally hoped that it would someday create into a substantially additional comprehensive business.
Lands have been initially opened up in Oklahoma for settlement in 1889 although some European-Americans had staked claims on Indian lands just before the official date. Settlements elevated more than the subsequent 20 years and in 1907 Oklahoma was officially recognized as our 45th state.
In the years of 1889 to 1907, through the days of the early improvement of Oklahoma hemp was a forgotten crop in most of America. There have been pockets of particular places of the nation exactly where hemp was nonetheless becoming grown commercially and quite a few farmers grew it on a little scale for non-industrial purposes but for the most component hemp was dead. For the most component anyway.
The year Oklahoma became a state hemp was undergoing a revival of some sorts in many components of America. Regions that had previously abandoned the crop have been returning to their roots. The USDA was performing comprehensive hemp study beneath the guidance of Lyster Dewey.
On April 24, 1908 The Chickasha Every day Express published an write-up referred to as “Urge Farmers to Develop Hemp”. The write-up stated:
“The farmers of Oklahoma must turn their consideration to the increasing of hemp,” stated F. S. White, agricultural commissioner of the Rock Island-Frisco lines, who was in the city now.
“Last year this nation imported $50,000,000 dollars worth of fiber to make binder twine, rope and other merchandise,” he continued. “We could possibly just as effectively and much better maintain this revenue at house. Hemp can be raised in practically any section of the nation and with the modern day machinery for harvesting and breaking it the crop is a quite lucrative one particular. From 1,000 to two,000 pounds of fiber per acre can be grown and it is now promoting at from six to eight cents a pound. It is conveniently and cheaply raised, requiring small labor and matures in 90 days. The Universal Fiber organization of Chicago and other organizations will furnish seed, contract for the complete crop and exactly where 500 acres are raised in a neighborhood will furnish a machine for breaking it.”
“We employed to raise a considerable quantity of hemp in this nation but the crop was progressively abandoned. With the invention of new machinery for harvesting and breaking it, the business is becoming revived. The biggest quantity is now raised in Kentucky. Missouri and Nebraska are also raising it. A quantity of farmers in the panhandle nation are also effectively increasing it. It will do effectively in Oklahoma. As quickly as farmers take hold of the crop and commence to raise it in enough quantities, factories for the manufacture of twine must be established at house. There is no necessity of sending it to the east to be worked up.”
Mr. White, who is a recognized authority on agriculture and horticulture, will be right here on Monday with a unique vehicle of exhibits and will give free of charge lectures to farmers and all who are interested in these subjects.
In January of 1912 the Haskel News wrote:
In 1913 The Every day Oklahoman published an alarming write-up that stated more than the prior 30 years the bird population of the state had drastically declined and have been threatened with extinction. They urged farmers to develop strips of many seed crops to bring back “our feathered friends”. They wanted to model the efforts of the popular Henry Ford in Michigan. Study the write-up here
In 1916 The Oklahoma City Instances published the following write-up:
Hemp Recommended as Washita Valley Crop
Chikasha, Okla., April 27 – (Specific) – That southern capitalists are interested in Grady county land is shown by a letter which was received this week by the mayor from a firm in Lexington. Ky., asking if it would be achievable for them to safe at least 200 acres of land lying in between this city and Anadarko to be employed for the objective of increasing hemp.
On July 20 of 1916 although the excitement mounted as Major news was announced in the Muskogee-Instances Democrat.
HEMP GROWERS TO INTRODUCE A Terrific Market
Experiment on a Major Scale Is a Good results, Says H.B. Nelson, River Farmer.
Significant MUSKOGEE ACREAGE IS PREDICTED
Organization of Regional Association Is Began – Soil Like the Popular Hemp-Developing Area of Kentucky
Following a two years’ test proving that hemp can be grown in the wealthy bottoms of eastern Oklahoma with terrific profit, farmers of Muskogee county are speaking a Hemp Growers association. The program is to conduct a systematic campaign to make hemp the staple crop of this section.
H.B. Nelson, who two years ago introduced hemp from Kentucky on his Arkansas river bottom farm 4 miles north of the city, says the regional soil and climate are excellent for the crop. He realized additional profit on 3 and one particular-half acres of hemp final year than on one particular hundred acres of oats adjoining. He believes the basic introduction of hemp raising will make Muskogee the richest agricultural county in the state.
The initially hemp ever grown in Oklahoma ,so far as recognized was that on the Nelson farm final year. The seed sold at $12 per bushel and the fiber brought a fancy cost on the eastern industry. This year Mr. Nelson has forty acres planted in hemp. The crop is in exceptional shape in spite of the drought and promises wealthy returns when it is harvested in August.
Oklahoma’s pioneer hemp farmer is enthusiastic. He says the crop will yield larger returns per acre than something that can be grown. The soil of the wealthy Arkansas river bottom, he describes as quite equivalent to that of the Kentucky bottoms, the greatest hemp area in the planet.
Mr. Nelson has on show in the window of the American National bank, Third and Broadway, a bundle of the extended, green-stemmed plant. The stalks are eight or nine feet in length and of quite rank development. They are a fair sample of the forty acre crop practically prepared for harvest.
Not a Social Post.
“Hemp,” stated Mr. Nelson discussing his hobby now, “is the salvation of Muskogee county. I do not imply the hempen rope for social purposes but the agricultural solution. Corn looked excellent but is withering in the hot winds. Cotton is either quoted at a low figure or the crop is a failure. Experiments have convinced me that hemp can be grown right here with results in either wet or dry climate. The crop never ever fails and the cost is generally excellent.
“The final legislature made a industry for hemp correct at house when it appropriated $125,000 to make a cordage mill at McAlester. If we do not furnish the raw solution Kentucky and the east will. Hemp in Kentucky is now promoting for $200 per ton and land suited for its development rents for $20 per acre.
Applied by Navy.
“The demand for hemp is generally far in excess of the provide, insuring a industry at fancy costs for years to come. The Navy needs the higher component of the Kentucky crop for use on ships, the rigging and cordage becoming created of hempen strand. Ropes, ship rigging, marline, carpet yarn and quite a few other industrial merchandise are created from hemp.
“The Kentucky experimental station has analyzed a number of samples of Muskogee county hemp and says the fiber is of the finest. Hemp is sown in the early spring like wheat and reduce with a mower in August. It is ready for industry by separating the fiber from the stalk. The former is baled like cotton and sent to industry. The latter is employed for forage.
Lots of Labor.
“The greatest expense connected with the crop is the labor in breaking it out. This expense does not come till you know you have a crop. The abundance of negro labor in the river bottoms will make it simple to perform the fields and the expense will be far much less than that expected for either corn or cotton.
“We are busy laying preliminary plans for a Muskogee County Hemp Growers’ association. The program is to get a particular quantity of farmers to pledge themselves to develop hemp subsequent year. If this is performed hemp will quickly develop into Muskogee’s most significant and richest crop, farmland will enhance quickly in worth, and prosperity such as we have never ever dreamed of will greet the Arkansas river bottoms”.
So essentially, Oklahoma of 1916 was at the precise identical stage as Oklahoma 102 and 103 years later. Hemp is becoming greeted with the identical expectations and excitement.
So did hemp actually take off as anticipated in 1916? Far more study is necessary to ascertain the extent of the business but the wild hemp reported in quite a few sections of the state offer you us a clue that additional hemp was grown in the state than could possibly be realized.
This is an abbreviated write-up. Remain tuned for a additional expansive appear at the history of hemp in Oklahoma coming quickly!
~Les Stark, Hemp Historian and NHA Contributor