Arizona climate blamed for ‘off the charts’ THC failure in first hemp crops

Arizona producers might have geography to blame for joining hemp farmers across the country who have had to destroy their 2019 crops after the plants tested positive for elevated levels of THC.

About 41% of the state’s hemp plants tested above the 0.3% legal THC limit, according to the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Plant Services Division, which oversees the program.

Growers in other states have had issues managing the THC content of hemp plants, with crops from Hawaii to Nebraska also testing too high.

“At 40%, that’s off the charts,” Sully Sullivan, executive director of the Hemp Industry Trade Association of Arizona, said of the state’s THC findings.

“I’m taken aback by that. That’s substantial.”

The state’s agriculture department tested hemp plants for THC levels before harvesting started in late 2019.

State officials attributed the failure rate to variable seed quality and genetic expression for hemp grown in Arizona’s hot and dry climate.

Ryan Treacy, founder and CEO of C4 Laboratories, an Arizona lab that tests hemp and marijuana, said hemp genetics that worked in other areas of the country might not adapt well to Arizona.

“Stressed plants do crazy things,” he said, adding that the new environment might contribute to a plant having a higher THC level.

USDA estimates 20% failure rate in 2020

According to new estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 20% of hemp lots sent in for testing this year will need to be destroyed because the plants exceed the legal THC limit.

In its interim final rule, the USDA said it arrived at this estimate “based on information discussions with states that have a hemp program under the 2014 Farm Bill.”

By federal law, all hemp crops that test hot must be destroyed and can’t be used in any way – even in states that allow both marijuana and hemp production, like Arizona.

– Associated Press and Hemp Industry Daily

9 comments on “Arizona climate blamed for ‘off the charts’ THC failure in first hemp crops
  1. Jay Fleming on

    AGAIN… Outdoor marijuana pollen will screw hemp, and hemp pollen will screw up marijuana.

    Besides if Arizona weather was what increased the THC, wouldn’t we have marijuana with the best THC levels in the country

    • Ryan on

      Most AZ cannabis is grown indoors. So far there has not been many instances of pollination between the two, however I’m sure that will come into play as more farms begin switching to hemp. It’s not just the weather it’s a myriad of contributing factors but what genetics may have worked in more established hemp states are proving not to work well here. Stress is the #1 thing that will cause variability in the epigenetics of a cultivar.

  2. Pam Bosch on

    What constitutes failure? Who decided that .3% is “safe”? What is the THC content of the ditch weed growing all over the midwest? Well over the “failure” rate in Arizona. Are people rushing to smoke it? Prohibition continues with these rules. They are designed to guarantee that no one can afford to grow hemp–except maybe those who want to own all of food production.
    What about corn pollen? Is the answer one GMO variety? If you believe the propaganda you might as well give up.

  3. Scott Smith on

    The .3% testing rule is the fallacy of someone’s poor imagination. Does the government not realize we are talking just trace amounts of THC? It isn’t rocket science, but just over regulation by bureaucrats.

  4. Mick Webb on

    This is why high quality testing CBD is crucial. At present we live in a world of conflict with CBD regarding price and quality. I am based in UK and it is the same here as throughout the globe with inferior products promising much. Anything above 0.3% can cause serious legal issues in many countries and the only safe CBD is that with undetectable levels of THC in it.
    I think it would be naive to think that those producing cheap CBD products can take a crop hit like this. Those in such situations are likely to push a crop through regardless of THC levels because they cannot afford the hit.
    We are still in the pioneering stage, but this article goes to show it is not as easy as simply planting some seeds!

  5. Pat on

    Would a dramatically improved root system with exaggerated feeder root development possibly enable the stressed hemp plant take up more water, and reduce THC levels. Any thoughts or comments?

  6. Tom Kapp on

    I’m curious as to what strains or cultivars of Hemp these companies are using that seem to be affected by the climate when it comes to THC production – does anyone know?

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