4

At $21 a Pound, Roasted Hemp Seeds Look Like a Cash Cow

^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Hemp seeds have started infiltrating grocery-store shelves across America. They're often sold shelled and in bulk quantities, but some producers have also been packaging them as snack items. Roasted and seasoned, they're fine snacks -- they taste nothing like pot and don't get you high, but they're high in protein (nine grams in three tablespoons) and full of omega essential fatty acids.

But when we saw a bag of Ziggy Marley Hemp Rules -- seeds that are USDA certified organic -- selling for $7.99 for six ounces (before tax), we started considering the potential of hemp seeds as a cash crop.

See also: Five of the Best -- and Worst -- Pumpkin Spice Foods This Year

According to a feasibility report released by Oregon State University in 1998, hemp fields dedicated to seed production are typically not seeded as heavily as fields dedicated to hemp used for fiber. (Although a single hemp plant can be used for both, the fiber from fully seeded plants is not as strong and therefore not as useful as fiber from plants that are not allowed to fully seed.) The report states that a typical seed yield using the methods outlined in the study would be about 893 pounds per acre.

That document is obviously outdated, but the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance reports that typical seed yields range from 600 to 800 pounds -- and that the largest yield on record "topped 2,000 pounds."

Ignoring the cost of packaging and marketing those seeds, In a best-case scenario of 2,000 pounds per acre, a producer could harvest $42,613 worth of hemp seeds.

But there's clearly potential for variation. An acre that only produces 600 pounds of seeds, for example, would yield about $12,784 worth of hemp seeds.

By way of contrast, in 2013 an acre of corn was expected to gross about $916 (based on the average price of a bushel of corn and the average yield of bushels per acre), and an acre of soybeans was expected to gross about $648 (based on the same metrics).

You can't ignore the cost of packing and marketing, of course, and there's more overhead to be considered. But even so, it's clear there's money to be made in the hemp industry through more than just fiber production.


Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.