By Bethany Rodgers
Though he hasn’t sold much of it yet, the Utah County farmer is proud of how his 10-acre experiment turned out. Paging through pre-harvest cellphone photos, he shows off his neatly lined plants, some with stalks soaring above shoulder-height and crowned with what he calls the “filet mignon” of hemp buds.
As part of Utah’s industrial hemp vanguard, he relied mainly on his instinct to coax the temperamental crop into flourishing. Little guidance was available, and there were few examples to follow. He was never sure if he was doing it right or wrong.
“It’s on the fly,” says Harward, who’s been farming sweet corn and hay for decades. “Every day was new.”
Harward holds one of the roughly 220 industrial hemp licenses issued in Utah since last year, when the U.S. government cleared the way for cultivating the nonintoxicating cannabis plant.