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Industrial Hemp Field Day draws a crowd

Industrial hemp variety trials

-Magdalen Lindeberg

Cornell’s first Industrial Hemp Field Day was held August 1 beside the flourishing variety trials on Dryden Road in Ithaca. SIPS Director and project coordinator for Cornell’s New York State Industrial Hemp Program, Chris Smart cited the rapid escalation in hemp related research and grower interest during the past year, facilitated by the efforts of our state government officials and investment by Governor Cuomo.  Eleven Cornell scientists and their lab programs are now engaged in hemp-related research with involvement from twenty nine growers from Lake Erie to Long Island.

Speakers provided updates to the 100+ attendees on a range of issues.  Don Viands and members of his program described performances of different lines in different soil types and planting times, Gary Bergstrom discussed some of the diseases and insect pests expected to be a concern, and Alan Taylor described  strategies for improving the quality and purity of seed lots.   Future research will also include study of optimal cropping systems and the impact of the hemp microbiome in hemp yield and quality.  One of the primary goals is establishment of in-state seed production for varieties suited to New York growing conditions.

Chris Logue and NYS Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (photo: Chris Smart)

Chris Logue from New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, outlined the regulations imposed by New York State and federal agencies and provided recommendations for those interested in growing industrial hemp. Logue and the other speakers fielded more than an hour of questions and comments from audience members on topics ranging from harvesting equipment, potential for grower cooperatives, threats represented by deer and other pests, management of legal issues, and the future of the regulatory environment.

The application period for next year’s industrial hemp permits will open in late August.  The number of permits is not capped but Logue cautioned that all applications need a research component.  New York State has also allocated up to $5 million for the New York State Industrial Hemp Processing Grant Fund to be administered by Empire State Development.

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photo: Forage Breeding Project
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