Nearly 2,100 individuals and businesses have applied to grow or process industrial hemp in 2019, according to a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer.

“This is a dramatic increase from last year,” stated Brian Kuhn, director of the department’s Plant Industry Bureau, which houses the hemp program.

Online and emailed applications and renewals by program participants from last year were due by midnight on March 1. However, forms sent through the mail will be accepted as long as they are postmarked by March 1.

To date, 1,405 have applied to grow industrial hemp this year. Of those, 1,244 would be first-time growers.

Industrial hemp was a major crop in Wisconsin in the first half of the 20th Century, mainly harvested for its fiber to make rope. Most growers today are growing either for CBD oil or grain.