TUMALO, OR -- Severe thunderstorms brought golf ball-sized hail last weekend, and devastated acres of growing hemp. Matt Cyrus, of Triple C Farms says that hail storm could cost farmers millions. "In lost production value, my best estimate is that there were somewhere between 4 and 500 acres that were affected by the storm, of hemp. My guess is it's somewhere between 20 and 25 million dollars in lost value at what they would have harvested."
According to Cyrus, hemp is the number one crop in Oregon, bringing in over a Billion dollars in income. "Dollars and cents-wise, hemp is an expensive crop to raise, and so those who've got complete losses are going to have a significant total loss, certainly on their income side, and outright cost of production." He says that means money that Central Oregonians won't see. "Currently, there's 60,000 registered acres in Oregon, and the total value of the hemp industry in Oregon is expected to top a billion, probably closer to 1.5 billion."
Hail is so destructive because it strips the leaves off the plants, and Cyrus says hemp relies on numerous leaves to contribute to the plants' biomass.
Cyrus is the President of the Deschutes County Farm Bureau. He says he and the Deschutes County Sheriff's office emergency management division are working together to bring in disaster relief funds for the affected farmers.