We just legalized hemp! The 2018 Farm Bill made the production of hemp legal in all 50 states, and the USDA is days away from releasing regulations for its cultivation. Not only is CBD derived from hemp, but industrial hemp has a number of uses: from fuel, plastic, concreate, textiles, to animal feed….. Hemp is about to explode in the US!
One problem that the Purdue University sees on the horizon is the fact that there is a rising demand for farmers to grow hemp and very little experts on the subject. Understandably so! It isn’t like farmers could get much practice in hemp cultivation in the past.
The USDA recently awarded a $1 million US Department of Agriculture grant to Purdue University. Kevin Gibson, who is a professor of botany and plant pathology, will lead an effort by the university to explore questions related to organic hemp production.
“There’s certainly tremendous interest and tremendous opportunities, but the reality is that this is a crop we haven’t grown on significant acreage for 70 to 80 years,” Gibson said. “The knowledge base to be successful needs to be developed.”Purdue.edu
It is important to study the best way to grow hemp organically. For instance, we currently don’t have any pesticides that would be considered legal to use on a hemp crop. Chemicals must be developed and approved for specific crops. It would be illegal to use a pesticide used on another crop for hemp.
“This is a great opportunity to develop organic practices that can reduce the reliance on pesticides for all hemp growers, Gibson said. “We also want to know how hemp might fit in rotation with other crops, how it might fit into a soil conservation system, and how cultivars and the timing of planting will affect growing success.”Purdue.edu
Another area of interest for Gibson is how hemp may improve the viability of cover crops. Hemp is capable of revitalising the soil with nutrients that can be helpful for other crops to go. Not to mention that hemp has a shorter growing season than most crops making it a good option as a cover crop. If hemp can work as a cover crop it could save whole other areas of agriculture. For example, the dying citrus industry in Florida.