What are those weeds growing in the Decorah North Nest?

By Sherri Elliott

Decorah North Hemp

Eagle Hemp For Victory!

These eagle farmers never stop throwing out surprises to keep us guessing and/or entertained! In July 2017, we watched a cornstalk grow in the nest and at camera maintenance time, we harvested the stalk and one ear of corn. But this year, wild hemp is growing in the rail window boxes!

While Iowa is known for its corn, Iowa farmers grew nearly 48,000 acres of industrial hemp fiber cultivars as part of the war effort back in 1943. Feral hemp, aka ditch weed, descended from these government-sanctioned plants and is a fairly common sight throughout the state. Will it get you high? No. Will it wreck up your weed whipper? Maybe! Weed whipping hemp can create twisted fibers that stop weed whippers from turning. While cattle don’t eat it (the North Hill is a botanical demonstration of plants that cattle and deer won’t eat), passerine birds love its fatty, protein-rich seeds.

RRP Executive Director John Howe: “There are a number of wild hemp plants around the base of the nest tree and in the pastured hillside. When we built the starter platform last summer, we pulled up some compost to fortify the stick base. I have a feeling that a few stowaway seeds got hauled up too.” 

What was the ‘Hemp for Victory’ war effort? Learn more here!