USDA grants nearly $1 million for organic hemp production research

Plant scientists at Purdue University have been selected to study organic production of hemp, a concern for most producers considering a lack of crop protection resources labeled for hemp production.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted nearly $1 million for researchers to:
  • Develop organic practices for hemp production.
  • Assess the integration of hemp into cropping systems that include cover crops and no-till practices.
  • Determine the effect of location and planting date on the performance of multiple hemp cultivars.

“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,” botany and plant pathology professor Kevin Gibson said in a university statement announcing the grant.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t yet approved legal pesticides for farmers to use on hemp, which makes understanding organic practices especially important, according to Gibson.

The research will examine issues related to soils, soil microbial communities, pests, pollinators and economics while also addressing information needs within the supply chain.

The research team at Indiana-based Purdue will also work in partnership with the Rodale Institute, a Pennsylvania nonprofit, to learn about how hemp can contribute to regenerative agriculture.

The USDA announced earlier this month that it has awarded $500,000 to researchers at Virginia Tech University to look at the path of hemp and switchgrass pollens.

For more information about the USDA grant on organic farming practices, click here.