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UW provides Wyoming industrial hemp update and 2021 hay outlook

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

On Jan. 26, University of Wyoming (UW) Extension and Utah State University Extension collaboratively hosted the Wyoming-Utah Ag Day at the Historic Roundhouse and Railyards in Evanston.

During the event, UW Research Scientist in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics Brian Lee provided an update on industrial hemp production and offered a hay outlook for 2021.

Industrial hemp production

“Wyoming industrial hemp production is off and running,” stated Lee, noting the summer of 2020 marked the first year of production, following the implementation of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture’s hemp program.

Lee further noted Laramie and Goshen counties saw a successful first year of growing industrial hemp.

“Multiple locations were used by county, state and private entities to grow awareness and begin production,” explained Lee. “Industrial hemp production occurred on irrigated pivots in Wyoming with great success.”

“Hemp was baled for processing with the hemp of Greentree Ag, a private Wyoming company, and the 2020 industrial hemp crop is currently being processed and outlets are being established for finished hemp products,” Lee added. “After the success of this year, acres are expected to increase gradually over the next few years.”

Future research

Although the first year of industrial hemp production in Wyoming went swimmingly, Lee noted Wyoming growers ran into a few issues.

“Seed cost is one area where the most improvement can be gained for the future. Production costs range from $500 to $700 per acre,” he said. “Limited inputs were required for this year’s industrial hemp crop, but part of the reason for this is the lack of herbicides for industrial hemp. Drilling, fertility, manual cultivation and baling/harvesting were the main operations required.” 

Because there is so much more to learn about the crop, Lee said the Wyoming Hemp Association was formed to offer support and information to producers across the state. Additionally, Eastern Wyoming College and UW are collaborating to create educational materials to assist the producers in the industry.

“UW is also planning on developing research on planting population, water and nutrient requirements and soil considerations for hemp,” stated Lee. “Much of the work done on industrial hemp has been done by private entities, leaving some research needs for properly developed research.” 

2021 hay outlook

Following his Wyoming industrial hemp update, Lee also provided attendees with a 2021 hay outlook. 

“Hay is the primary baled feed source throughout the country, totaling 53 million acres, and it is a major livestock input,” stated Lee. “Availability and price of hay will define many livestock production decisions as we move into the fall and winter of 2021.” 

With this in mind, Lee said there are a few factors growers need to consider. 

“There are many moving parts in the hay market right now,” he said. “Many hay producing regions in the U.S. saw a very dry summer and fall in 2020. Little moisture in addition to warmer temperatures is predicted across the Midwest this coming growing season. While this is good for alfalfa production, it is bad for the grass hay outlook.”  

Additionally, Lee noted growers should be aware it is unlikely hay prices will come down this next year. 

Therefore, he suggested producers plan to be flexible this coming year and consider planting alternative crops such as sorghum or oats instead of buying expensive hay. He also suggested producers look into Conservation Reserve Program grazing to determine if it would be a good practice for their particular operation. 

            Hannah Bugas is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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