Person County, N.C. — North Carolina farmers are a hardy bunch, always on the look out for a better, more profitable crop. In Person County this summer, they are experimenting with what could be the next big thing, and they are hoping for a bumper crop.

Jay Foushee believes he has planted the state’s first commercial, industrial hemp.

“We call it Carolina Gold,” he said.

Foushee, a fourth-generation farmer, put in 6,000 more hemp plants on Monday.

He grew up with tobacco, but with acceptance of smoking changing, he’s had to change, too. He grew grain for a few years before considering hemp.

“It has been a huge, huge, learning curve,” he said.

“The potential income we can make on this crop is more than we can make on grain right now.”

Industrial hemp plants contain almost no THC, the compound that makes marijuana so potent. The flowers of Foushee’s plants will be used in the medical field, and the stems will be used for their fiber content, easing the demand on timber.

A change in the law in 2014 made agricultural production of industrial hemp possible. It’s taken until this year for the rules and regulations to be in place.

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