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Partners and stakeholders in A-24 Farming, a new company founded by the Roberti family, stand in a field in Sierra Valley that will soon be covered with cannabis hemp plants. Pictured from left: Dr. Glenn Miller from UNR, Dave Roberti, Jane Roberti, Kevin Moats, and Erica Kay. Photos by Carolyn Shipp

Sierra Valley ranchers begin venture with hemp

A recently transplanted hemp plant soaks up some Sierra Valley sun. Though the plants look like marijuana, they have no psychoactive effects and are used for a variety of different purposes, specifically for their fiber and oil.

Sierra Valley drivers might come across a peculiar crop on their way through the valley on A-24. In a few months, over 160 acres of property adjacent to the Roberti Ranch will be covered in a canopy of cannabis plants, However, unlike the typical marijuana plant, this crop has little to no psychoactive effects.

A-24 Farming, a company started by brothers Dave, Rick and Jim Roberti, is paving the way for the growth of hemp as a viable agriculture crop. Hemp is a type of cannabis plant that has very little THC, which is the chemical responsible for marijuana’s effects. To compare, hemp has a THC level of 0.3 percent, while a marijuana plant has a THC level between 15 to 30 percent. The lack of THC makes hemp more useful for its fibrous makeup and CBD oil.

The Robertis will be cultivating hemp and selling it to a manufacturing company who will refine the product to be used in clothing, plastics, oils and skin care products.

On June 11, the Robertis invited members of the media to tour the new developments in an effort to raise awareness about the crop. During a tour around the ranch via a shuttle bus, Dave Roberti explained the strategy behind the new crop.

Roberti said that previously their ranch grew alfalfa in the fields where the hemp will now reside. However, the dairy market, which is the ranch’s main purchaser of its alfalfa, is seeing a steady decline.

“Dairy is collapsing,” said Roberti. “We are very limited in what else we can grow up here.”

Upon seeing the lack in a viable future with alfalfa, the Robertis had to come up with a new crop to grow that could withstand the harsh conditions in Sierra Valley. Not only is the valley at a high altitude, there are also only 40 to 50 frost-free days throughout the year. Roberti said hemp is a very hardy crop that does well at high altitudes and can withstand cold temperatures.

The hemp endeavor is not just meant to make money for the Robertis. It also offers a chance for more research to be done on the cultivation of the plant. The A-24 Farm has teamed up with University of Nevada, Reno’s Natural Resources and Environmental Science program to help expand the college’s research on the plant.

Dr. Glenn Miller, a professor in UNR’s Environmental Science program, said the goals of the research will be to see the effects of large-scale hemp production. The Robertis will be planting at least triple the normal amount of hemp found in a typical hemp plot. Because of that, Miller will be regulating and experimenting on effective spacing for the plant, and theorizes it will use about half the water than an alfalfa field of similar size.

Because hemp is in the cannabis family, it is classified as a Schedule One Controlled Substance. However, the Robertis said that cultivation of hemp is allowed if it is done in partnership with an institution research facility.

After the product is harvested, the Robertis will send the harvest to their partner in Reno, Kevin Moast of Harvest Tek, where it will be refined and sold for product. Some benefits of the plant may be seen locally. Roberti said part of the product may also be used to help add fiber to the diets of the Robertis’ livestock, and the fibrous plant is very effective for biomass energy at the co-gen plant in Loyalton.

“We are very interested in what this crop can do to help others, and want to share what we have learned about industrial hemp with our community,” said Roberti. “We encourage people to ask questions and learn more.”

People interested in learning more about the Robertis hemp project should visit A24farming.com.

11 thoughts on “Sierra Valley ranchers begin venture with hemp

  • I like this in the fact Biodegradable plastics can be made from this product. Oil based plastics have been a major source of pollution for way to long. It is choking the oceans. Good for You.

  • Insane that a plant with almost zero thc content is so highly regulated and is a controlled substance. This country is so backward and ridiculous. Good for A24farming to go through the hassle of growing it!

  • excellent

  • They shouldn’t be allowed grow more then 6 plants on their property like everyone one else. If sheriffs department is enforcing the 6 plant rule for cannabis they need to do the same for hemp. Hemp is still a schedule 1 narcotic just like cannabis.

  • Vote no on B in November

    • Vote Yes on measure B!!!!

      • Yes!! Vote yes on measure B in November. Our county can be progressive at a balanced rate, increase tax revenue and have a moderate approach to both the cannabis and hemp industries.

  • Good for this ranching family. This was a viable crop for years in North America. Environmentally sound idea. Great to see.

  • I don’t think the dairy market has declined there are no less people in the need of dairy products. The Marijuana crops I’m sure pay much more than an Allfalfa crop. Isn’t the cultivation of Marijuana still illegal at the Fedral level ?

  • You are correct Jim, it’s still a federally class 1 narcotic that this local ranch is producing. Will Plumas Bank do anything about it and stop letting them bank with them? Never. This has become a class issue. The Robertis’ are not only growing a crop unregulated by CA, they’re also planning to intrastate transfer, based off their contract with UNR. There’s no legal way of getting hemp seeds, so their seeds should be considered carrying more than .3% of THC, their seeds aren’t even feminized so they have to do visual inspections. The sale of 160acres, untaxable, three times before 2018 ends. I have no clue what 160acres three rows deep profits, but I can guarantee you it’s a good return than their last crop of alfalfa.

  • Whereas Measure B puts a cap on cannabis. Cultivation to only medium and small grows for cannabis. But the County Supervisors are totally fine with an unpermitted class one narcotic this season being grown by one farm at 160 acres all season, whilst placing strict and insane abatement fines on cannabis, which to the DEA, is also hemp….oxymoronic

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