Cook takes on challenge of new crop
Camden’s first hemp farmer, Crum Cook, is learning more every day as he expands his farm to include this crop.
This year, he joined dozens of famers across the state to plant the first legal hemp crop since 1937 as part of the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program.
Hemp is a cannabis plant, but it has smaller amounts of THC, making it different than marijuana. In Alabama, 180 famers applied for legal licenses to grow hemp. Because this is a new crop for the farmers, the learning process is steep. The first step was investing in seed, which costs around $1,000.
According to Cook, there is a big market for hemp now, and interest in the crop is growing across Alabama. Hemp is popular for making rope, fabric, CBD oil, and more.
Cook said he is investing time and money into this crop and works seven days a week to make sure everything is going smoothly.
For now, he explained that Army worms are the biggest problem as he walked the fields picking off the destructive worms. He said hemp farmers can’t use any kind of repellant on the plants because they must be organic. To help fight off threats, Cook has enlisted the help of ladybugs.
He also created his own water system for the hemp plants that is working well. Cook explained he is not alone in the hemp venture. He has help from Shelly Harris, Camden’s first female hemp farmer, and Robbie Hollinger. Cook described Hollinger as a master grower who “learned everything he knows from Leo Hollinger.”
Cook said he learns more about the hemp crop every day. In addition to his hemp farm, Cook stays busy with his cattle operation.
I enjoyed spending a day on the Cook farm, despite the long hours, as I learned more about hemp and cattle. We started the day early, rounding up three different groups of cows that were set to be shipped off to different locations after they were weighed. I had no idea about the amount of work that went into farming.