YORK—Agri-Products, Inc. of York has completed the building phase of its innovative hemp harvester creation.
With the help of the York County Development Corporation and a Value-Added Agriculture Prototype grant in the amount of $18,875, the local business has its from-scratch prototype completed and ready for testing.
Since hemp-farming equipment is primarily unregulated in Nebraska, Agri-Products’ first hemp creation – dubbed “Hempsker 1.0” — is headed to Oregon for testing.
Don Freeman III, designer and sales professional at Agri-Products, said the focus of this project is CBD harvesting. This hemp product — cannabidiol — can be obtained in much of the United States, but to varying degrees. Cannabidiol’s legality usually depends on whether it is derived from hemp or its cousin, marijuana. Some clinical preliminary research has tested CBD’s effect on anxiety, movement disorders and pain.
The product utilizes much of the plant, but requires a great deal of manual labor. A traditional CBD hemp harvester carefully cuts each plant and loads it onto a trailer, in hopes of not damaging plant structure, according CannibisTech.com. Freeman and the crew at Agri-Products hope their creation reduces the need for manual labor, streamlining the hemp harvesting process. The Hempsker will separate the flowers and leaves from the hemp stem; CBD is most concentrated in the flowers.
“Agri-Products Inc. is showing they are positioning themselves for growth by responding to their clients’ needs with innovation,” said York County Development Corporation Executive Director Lisa Hurley.
Fittingly, the idea for developing a hemp harvester came from a trip to Oregon. Freeman visited a friend in Oregon, and saw the state’s booming hemp industry – tens of thousands of acres worth, from over 1,000 licensed growers. Freeman saw an opportunity for his family’s business, and after extensive planning and design, plus a three-week construction phase, the vibrant red Hempsker 1.0 was born.
While the Hempkser’s creators are happy with their product, Freeman said the true test will be in the hands of hemp producers themselves. “There are certain little things that they know,” Freeman said. “It’s their industry.”
After perfecting the harvester, Agri-Products Inc. has hopes of showing off the Hempsker at trade shows and other events, focusing primarily on out-of-state sales – for now. The Hempsker has also played a part in establishing Agri-Products’ latest facet, the Special Ag Division, which concentrates primarily on hops and hemp.
Hurley said Agri-Products’ development of the Hempsker is a boon to the area. “This is a very good thing for York County, and I cannot wait to see the next new product this dynamic team comes up with – it’s exciting times!”
Agri-Products Inc. designer Don Freeman III (center) and vice president of sales Kevin Bonin (far right) explain the workings of the Hempsker 1.0 to Lisa Hurley (far left), York County Development Corporation Executive Director. The product is designed to improve current hemp-harvesting practices.