Highs and Lows of Growing CBD Hemp

February 27, 2020  |  10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.  |  La Crosse, Wis.



Leah Sandler, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
Patrick McHugh, McHugh Farms
Dylan Bruce, Circadian Organics
Shelby Ellison, University of Wisconsin



  • Genetic selection
  • Pest, mold, and fertility management
  • Processing hemp for CBD oil
  • Marketing Challenges



The robust demand for CBD hemp products is creating opportunities for farmers who grow hemp for CBD. Along with huge potential, this newly reclaimed crop has some challenges. You need solid information from experienced growers to be sure this is the right crop for your farm.

Leah Sandler, the education director and research agronomist at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, has been growing and researching hemp since 2015. She joins farmers Patrick McHugh and Dylan Bruce to explain best practices for CBD hemp from planting through harvest, as well as strategies to manage pests, mold, and fertility. They’ll also talk about processing hemp for CBD oil and accessing the market.

Before you jump into the “green rush,” join this discussion of lessons learned and pick up tips to avoid the pitfalls that can happen when growing CBD hemp.


About the Presenters:

Leah Sandler
Leah is the Education Director/Research Agronomist at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, WI. Her diversified work experiences include the Greenely Research Farm, a 1000 acre research farm in Missouri, vegetable production in Italy, and before undertaking her doctoral degree, a position with AgriCorps in Eastern Ghana working in agricultural development. The last four years Leah has dedicated her work to the agronomics of industrial hemp conducting field research on hemp production and working with farmers to strengthen their understanding of the crop.


Patrick McHugh
Patrick is a transitioning farmer who grows multiple styles of crops for diversity, including organic specialty grains for distilling and hemp. He grew 40 acres of hemp for CBD this year on his certified organic farm outside Onalaska, Wis., which was a focal point at a field day this summer hosted by MOSES and OGRAIN.



Dylan Bruce
Dylan Bruce co-owns Circadian Organics, a fresh market vegetable and seed farm that added CBD hemp seed, biomass and boutique flower to the rotation in 2019. Motivated to help small farmers figure out this new industry, Dylan has implemented an independent hemp fertility trial and organized the 2019 Wisconsin CBD Hemp Field Day. He also works part-time at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, researching organic vegetable production.


Shelby Ellison
Shelby is in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she’s working with a multidisciplinary team of scientists and extension specialists on best production practices for hemp in Wisconsin. She is in charge of CBD variety trialing, cannabinoid testing, and is developing a hemp course for UW-Madison.



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