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Up-and-coming CBD business gives facility, field tours

AGRICULTURE/NEW BUSINESS

Voice Correspondent

RUSHVILLE - Stoney Branch Ag Ventures gave tours of their facility on Friday and Saturday.

The two and a half acre property in Rushville, Ill. is space that Justin Ward uses to grow hemp plants for CBD production. Ward is the Chief Operating Officer of the farm and one of the Stoney Branch team members who gave tours to the public.

Ward showcased the inside of the greenhouses, both of which he said should be fully operational by the end of the year.

The greenhouses feature vast space ideal for hemp production, along with large water tanks and complex heating and cooling systems.

Additionally, the lighting at the top of the greenhouses is highly efficient and produces much less heat than traditional lighting. There’s also a shading system that keeps plants cool or in a darker environment when necessary.

With control over lighting and shade, Ward said that they can keep plants in a vegetative state for longer periods of time and maximize production. This is especially critical when operating in a state with weather that is often extreme.

Outside in the field, visitors could notice an area

where plants were washed out by the rain. Ward said that significant rainfall can harm plants since they don’t react well to sitting in wet soil.

Factors like sunlight, humidity, and soil also greatly influence these plants in the field, he said.

Hemp is a difficult crop to harvest for those reasons, according to Ward, but there’s also a large financial commitment. He had to order costly equipment from France and Italy months in advance just to break into the industry.

Stoney Branch uses a machine that tests the cannabis in order to give customers the levels of THC and CBD. The machine makes sure that the substance doesn’t contain any psychoactive effects, which are undesired in CBD oil.

Several different types of seeds and clones are present at Stoney Branch, but Ward said that clones will end up being the most ideal and consistent option for farmers.

Given his disapproval of pesticides, Ward prefers to take an organic approach by using minimal inputs in the product.

Ward studied agriculture at Western Illinois University and worked in the cannabis industry for five years, experiences he believes gave him the necessary guidance. Anna, his wife, also went to Western and is Stoney Branch’s Director of Marketing.

Other members of the Stoney Branch team are Lance Ward (Director of Sales), Shelly Martin (Chief Financial Officer), Jack Martin (Chief Executive Officer), and Zach Caywood (Cultivation Manager).

The FFA Alumni Association provided food for the tours and Ward said that he would like to work with FFA students in the future.

Roughly 175 people visited the property for the tours, which were held Friday and Saturday.

Email editor@ mcdonoughvoice. com for comments or questions on this story.

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