The farmers hope hemp will become the next big cash crop, one that can provide alternative or additional revenue to traditional crops such as tobacco, cotton, grains and the ornamental plants that Averitt sells. “It might stand to be a lot more profitable than the nursery,” Averitt said. “Anything — anything helps.” But first, Averitt and other American farmers have to learn how to grow hemp in commercial quantities and quality. America stopped growing industrial hemp about 60 years ago. The knowledge and skills to do it have faded. North Carolina farmers are in their second year in modern times of legally raising hemp, albeit on a limited and tightly regulated basis. As of late June, 328 farmers in the state were licensed to grow it, up from 124 last year, when state licensing began. American farmers grew 9,770 acres of hemp in 2016 and 25,541 acres in 2017, Johnson reported. Researchers have estimated farmers can gross $21,000 per acre from seeds and $12,500 from stalks, she said. The North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association has told lawmakers that farmers in the state will make an estimated $25,000 to $30,000 per acre this year from hemp flowers. Despite the setbacks and restrictions, farmers including Bob Crumley of the state Industrial Hemp Association have high confidence that the crop will boom in North Carolina. He believes the flower farmers will take in $20 million to $26.4 million this year, which doesn’t include sales of the extracted oils or income from seeds and fiber. The total state economic impact should be well above $100 million, Crumley told lawmakers.