Industrial hemp continues to grow even during drought conditions

BISMARCK, N.D. - Farmers and Ranchers in the western half of North Dakota have been looking to the sky, begging for rain for months. Producers of one crop, however, aren't sweating as hard as the rest.

Industrial hemp may look like marijuana, but it has none of the ingredients that give smokers a high. It should also give a big boost to some farmers check books this year.

As Clarence Laub inspects his field of industrial hemp, he's doing something farmers of other crops in the state couldn't dream of. He's staring down a better crop than last year.

"There's still a lot of hope for it. It should be one of the last things not to make it," said Laub.

In his second year, Laub says he changed up his seeding technique, which is producing better results.

"This is also a very new crop too. We just grew it, last year was the first year, so this year is new and also with the dryer conditions that's new with it too," said Laub.

Even though it may appear short now, Laub says it only takes about a third of the water as other cash crops. In fact, if he got about an inch of rain, he could see between eight-to-12 inches of growth within a week.

"The next couple weeks could be very important as we get into mid-July without any rain," said Laub.

Hemp is also one of the few crops with relatively high commodity prices.

"It probably has the ability to make some people some money. Other than that, on every farmer's balance sheet, I don't think there's a crop showing it would make money this year," said Laub.

"If this crop does pan out this year, I think it's going to give a lot of positivity to a lot of growers. Hopefully, we end this year a lot wetter than we started it," said Laub.

As Laub drives off back to take care of his cattle and other crops, all he can do is hope and wait.

Industrial hemp is heavily regulated, making it harder to sell across state lines. It's components are used for ropes, oils, protein powder and more.