Remembering when hemp was king in Wisconsin

During the heyday of the industrial hemp industry during World War I and II, Wisconsin was home to over 70 percent of the hemp mills in the U.S.

Quite a feat for an industry that was largely unknown in the Badger State in 1912.

One of the oldest cultivated fiber plants in the world, hemp seed was brought to the U.S. by the pilgrims in 1620. The early settlers used the fiber from the woody stalk to produce twine, thread and rope.

According to state archives, six acres of hemp were grown on the asylum farm at Mendota and three acres as the Wisconsin State Prison farm in 1908, by the Agronomy Department of the Wisconsin Experiment State in cooperation with the Office of Fiber Investigations of the USDA.

The results appeared promising and more experimental crops were planted in fields in Fond du Lac, Green Lake and Dodge counties....

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