Industrial hemp research will soon begin at the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill, which has been granted permission by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
The upcoming growing season will have the college join a select group of researchers conducting trials since they were legalized in New York in 2015. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State included a proposal to establish the state as an industrial leader in industrial hemp research, production and processing, and the U.S. Senate agriculture and food policy legislation known as the Farm Bill passed on June 28 includes provisions to legalize the plant’s cultivation, processing and sale.
The term “industrial hemp” includes the plant Cannabis sativa and any derivative of it, such as fiber and seed, that is used exclusively for industrial purposes. These plants must have a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent. THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis.
The crop has not been grown in the area for abouty 100 years, noted Cobleskill Provost Dr. Susan Zimmerman, and the college’s investigations will work to improve agronomic outcomes for farmers.
“I think that what farmers are becoming increasingly aware of is the versatility of the crop,” Zimmerman said. Industrial hemp can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, clothing, textiles, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food and animal feed.
Zimmerman said the college hopes to include undergraduate students studying plant science and biotechnology in the research this fall. An initial focus is investigating the incidences and impact of diseases on the plant, while also looking at the effects of different spacing and soils. All seed and harvested plant material will be stored in a secured location on campus with locked doors and limited access.
Erin Jerome, staff writer, may be reached at (607) 441-7221, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_ErinJ .