Hemp Harvest Underway In Uniontown

Eric Simo inspects hemp plants in his light-controlled indoor growing facility in Uniontown. The small-scale farmer is harvesting his first crop and will sell the CBD oil grown locally in his retail shop.

In 2019, Hoosier farmers harvested the first legal hemp crop in 80 years. Many of those who converted soybean or corn acreage to grow hemp use the same farming techniques they have traditionally used with growing row crops.
But one hemp producer in nearby Uniontown is growing with a different technique and philosophy.
Eric Simo, of Hempin LLC, is harvesting his first small-scale crop at the intersection of I-65 & State Road 250 north of Crothersville.
Simo (pronounced Sigh-mo) said he is growing hemp for its cannabidiol, a popular natural remedy used for many common ailments. Better known as CBD, it is one of the chemical compounds found in hemp and its psychoactive cousin marijuana.
Hemp production in Indiana is regulated by the state and Hoosier hemp can have no more than .3 percent THC, the cause of the “high” associated with marijuana. However, CBD is not psychoactive and that makes it an appealing option for pain relief and other symptoms without the mind-altering effects of cannabis and some prescription drugs.
CBD is mixed with a carrier oil for topical or internal use.
In addition to growing hemp for CBD, the multi-use plant’s fibers can be used for making fabric, rope, and paper…even newsprint.
Among the benefits some users claim with CBD is pain management, reduced anxiety and depression from PTSD sufferers, relief from cancer-related treatment, and, in some instances, it can decrease hypertension.
The United States has lagged on research and testing of the uses of CBD but some countries —Israel in particular— has and continues to conduct studies that indicate that CBD may provide a safe, natural treatment for many health issues.
To grow hemp in Indiana, which became legal in 2018, farmers must get a license through the state chemist’s office at Purdue University. “And there are strict rules that must be followed,” said Simo.
While many Hoosier hemp producers want to farm big and mechanically, Simo said his operation is small; everything from planting, fertilizing, pruning and harvesting, is done by hand.
Think of a corporate beer manufacturer going for the volume compared with a neighborhood craft beer brewer going for quality.
Simo hopes that users of CBD will find his product more beneficial.
“Much of the CBD oil you can buy in convenient store, gas station, and some pharmacies come from overseas where quality regulation may not be at the top of the manufacturer’s priority list,” said Simo. “Here I have a seed-to-shelf product. And while it is not certified, we grow entirely organically.”
Planting and growing includes hand pruning, fertilizing and controlling light for optimum flower production. Hempin LLC uses feminized seed to help ensure the plants’ unpollinated blooms produce a higher quality and quantity of CBD.
After harvesting (which is going on now) plants are hung to dry and cure much like the tobacco crops formerly grown on farms in Indiana and Kentucky.
Simo will transport his cured hemp to an extraction facility north of Indianapolis to be processed and blended into CBD oil.
And, like the small-scale winery or craft beer maker, he intends to sell his 100 percent Hoosier product from his Uniontown location.
The hours of his retail shop are tentative but he said he will start off being open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.