Former Clemson Football Coach Danny Ford is now mastering a different kind of field.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done to tell you the truth,” Ford said.
Even harder than coaching a national championship college football team, but the former coach says the new field he’s working is just as rewarding.
“We started growing this and learning about the positive affects on people and the oil that we’re going to make and will be used for medicine,” Ford said.
He has more than 170 rows of a hemp crop. Coach Ford, his son Lee, and grandson Jordan are part of a team and research pilot program to grow hemp for South Carolina.
“There’s some techniques to it, it’s just like coaching or raising cattle or corn or anything else,” Ford said.
Right now 20 farmers throughout the state have permits to grow hemp.
“We know that if hemp can be successful, it can bring not only a new crop diversity, a new success in the way of crops for our farmers, but also and ultimately some new economic development in rural counties,” Sally McKay said.
She’s the director of communications with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. She says it’s important to understand these aren’t marijuana growers and hemp contains less than one percent of THC, which is the mind-altering ingredient found in marijuana.
“The level of THC in industrial hemp by law has to be less than .03 percent,” McKay said.
She says the department vetted growers who had to present a letter of intent from a processor or manufacturer to explain the intent behind growing hemp, like to extract CBD oil.
“You kinda just walk through and see, you know is there any yellowing,” Lee Ford said.
He says they planted 54,000 hemp seeds.
“Hopefully next year we’ll have the different phenotypes that we want that are putting out the percentages of oil and we will clone everything from that one plant,” he said.”Trying to get the best thing that we can offer South Carolina this year.’
The Fords say it will take a team effort.