Groundwork for industrial hemp farmers

A large group gathers at the Indiana Farmers Union hemp symposium.

FRANKLIN, Ind. — One hundred farmers will grow industrial hemp for research purposes in Indiana this summer.

The Office of Indiana State Chemist capped the number of applications at 100 for quality control reasons. Most hemp will be planted in April or early May.

The response to the expanded hemp research program has been tremendous. The OISC has received around 400 phone calls, emails or letters.

Don Robison, seed administrator at OISC, discussed the topic at a hemp symposium sponsored by the Hemp Chapter of Indiana Farmers Union.

“We’re trying to make sure we have a great program, not the first program,” Robison said. “Our goal is to keep people out of trouble. There’s been a lot of misinformation about what’s legal and what’s not legal.”

Hemp licensing this year will work basically the same as last year. Growers must be linked to an approved research project.

Research projects may include county Extension educators. Licenses must be issued by the Office of the Indiana State Chemist.

“In 2018, 15 acres of hemp were grown in Indiana for research purposes,” Robison said.

This year, an estimated 2,000 acres will be a part of the program.

Research will focus on fiber production and processing, CBD production and processing, grain production and seed production.

There are no pesticides labeled to use on hemp, so all of this research will be pesticide-free.

Research program participants are expected to follow their approved research proposal. A qualified university researcher is expected to maintain contact and review the on-farm research several times per growing season.

A final report is required at the end of the year to document the research and development of this emerging market.

Here are some other takeaways from the hemp symposium:

Groundwork for industrial hemp farmers

“I started looking for alternative things to grow besides corn and soybeans. Hemp was where I first landed. I’m here to save family farms … There are a whole lot of opportunities that hemp can provide for farmers.”

Groundwork for industrial hemp farmers

“The fact we were able to accept about 100 applications for research this year, as compared to about two last year — we’re pretty proud of that.”

Groundwork for industrial hemp farmers

“I’m really excited. I think 2019 is going to be a banner year for Indiana hemp. I truly believe the rest of the country is waiting for us to come online … We have the best soil for hemp growing, and in my personal opinion, I think we have the best farmers.”

Erica Quinlan can be reached at 800-426-9438, ext. 193, or equinlan@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Quinlan.

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