CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — Hemp production in West Virginia has been a topic of debate over recent years, but despite a seemingly-increasing market for hemp-derived products nationwide, production of said products saw a sharp decline in West Virginia over the past year.

According to a release from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), production of industrial hemp in the open dropped by nearly 50 percent as the total planted area in 2022 totaled at 35 acres, down from 65 acres in 2021. The total area of harvested for all purposes in the open totaled at 30 acres, down from 43 in 2021.

The production of industrial floral hemp also took a massive hit as the USDA reported that floral hemp production dropped 66 percent from an estimated 18,000 pounds in 2021 to an estimated 6,000 pounds in 2022. With this, industrial floral hemp also plummeted in harvest area, crop yield, price per pound, median yield and total value.

Hemp under protection in West Virginia, meaning indoors or otherwise protected by a structure, also took a nosedive in yearly production with total growing area dropping from 21,371 square feet to 5,967 square feet in a year.

Despite the dreadful year for West Virginia hemp production, growers in the Mountain State are not the only ones having issues. Nationwide, the total planting area for industrial hemp in the open dropped by nearly 50% along with the value of hemp production dropping 70% to $212 million.

No official reason for the decline has been released, but a likely reason for the plummet in the industry likely comes from the “hemp boom” ending. Following legislation passed to better regulate the crop and a lack of significant increase in interest, the market was likely forced to adapt, which meant a sharp downturn in yearly production.