California hemp company sponsored to help research high-CBD cultivars

A California hempseed company and a traditional agriculture biotech firm have been tapped to breed improved industrial hemp cultivars for California.

California Hemp Corp., based in Oakdale, and Benson Hill Biosystems, a Missouri crop-improvement company, have partnered in a sponsored research agreement with the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) to breed improved industrial hemp cultivars, according to a news release.

Terms of the sponsorship were not released.

Desired traits include high CBD and low THC content, as well as suitability for the environmental and soil conditions of Central California.

The intended result of the multi-year initiative will be commercial field-grown hemp varieties cultivated for health and wellness products.

The research will use data analytics from Hungry Planet Intelligence, a Texas agritech firm. It will also use machine-learning capabilities of Benson Hill Biosystems’ computational platform Breed to predict combinations for seed optimization.

Test breeding will begin immediately in Davis and Lemoore, California, with availability of certified seeds expected by May.

“It will be among the first significant hemp breeding programs of its kind, for what may be the most important crop in a generation,” said Edward Charles Brummer, head of the Center for Plant Breeding at UC Davis.