SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Nat Bradford’s family farm is known for their famous watermelons.
But in 2018, Bradford received a permit to grow industrial hemp.
“I made a mission to myself that if hemp every became legal in South Carolina I wanted to be the first one on board to grow it,” he said.
He was one of 20 farmers who were a part of the pilot program.
“We’re building the genetic base of the future of hemp in South Carolina,” Bradford pointed out.
Bradford and other farmers used different seeds from across the world to see which ones could thrive here.
He said he’s ready to use the lessons he learned in year one. Bradford said the goal of this program is to set a solid foundation for the crop.
“This year, those seeds that we saved and planted have a much higher success rate with those plants. We are around a 90% rate with those plants, because we thinned out all the genetics that didn’t perform in that strain,” Bradford said.
Hemp comes from the same plant species as marijuana but has a different genetic and chemical make up. It can be used for fibers, fuel and CBD oils to name a few things.
“We got to break this mindset that this was something put on Earth as a bad thing,’ Bradford said. “This plant has tremendous usefulness.”
Bradford said he appreciates the methodical approach for phasing the crop back in to the Palmetto State. He’s glad more farmers are being allowed to grow hemp so South Carolina can be competitive across the country.
“We just need people out there now getting their hands on this crop,” Bradford said. “Getting out there and working with it.”