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