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From hops to hemp: Nebraska family's business shifts with changing times

From hops to hemp: Nebraska family's business shifts with changing times

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The Wiles family farm was among 10 in Nebraska that were selected to test the growing of hemp.

Midwest Hop Producers, Nebraska’s largest hop yard, is closing after six years of growing and processing hops.

Bruce and Annette Wiles said they gained a lot of insight introducing hops as a specialty crop in the state, and they’ll be able to capitalize on that experience with hemp.

The Wileses worked with others to develop key standards for the hops industry, creating a growers/brewers conference and hosting the Harvest Ale Festival.

The business had already weathered tornadoes and floods when COVID-19 hit. The challenges caused by the virus led to the decision to stop raising hops.

“We’ve had a great experience,” Annette Wiles said. “What we’ve learned about raising a specialty crop such as hops is invaluable.”

The farm is located on 60 acres just south of Plattsmouth.

The Wiles family farm was among 10 in Nebraska that were selected to test the growing of hemp, which is seen by some as a promising, lucrative crop. Hemp was once widely cultivated in the state.

Congress cleared the way for hemp farming by legalizing it in the 2018 farm bill. That prompted the Nebraska Legislature to pass a law in 2019 allowing cultivation to begin.

By law, hemp must have less than 0.3% THC (the high-inducing chemical in marijuana) to be legal.


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Nancy Gaarder helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow her on Twitter @gaarder. Email: nancy.gaarder@owh.com

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