Amid a growing number of questions flooding into Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service offices, a group of agency personnel recently traveled to Oklahoma and southeastern Colorado on an educational hemp tour.
Danny Nusser, AgriLife Extension regional program leader for agriculture in the North Region serving Amarillo and Lubbock, coordinated the tour to help agents gain a comprehensive understanding of hemp production and to be better equipped to answer producer questions as there has been no industrial hemp grown commercially in Texas since the 1930s.
Members of AgriLife Extension’s Industrial Hemp Education Initiative Team participated in the tour.
“We felt this agent professional development tour was important for two reasons: to address the lack of research-based, factual information available, and particularly in our area, the need to have a basic understanding of the production issues and challenges of growing industrial hemp,” Nusser said.
Industrial hemp production in Texas was approved by House Bill 1325 and signed into law by the Governor, but still requires the establishment of licenses, fees, criminal offenses and civil and administrative penalties.
Hemp refers to the plant Cannabis sativa L., including the seeds and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts and salts of isomers with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry-weight basis. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the most referenced product aligned with hemp production, but non-consumable hemp products include cloth, cordage, fiber, fuel, paint, paper, particleboard and plastics.
The trip allowed the participants to discuss agronomic issues with the farmers such as water use, pest management, disease pressure, planting and harvesting considerations, markets, labor, regulations and much more, Nusser said.
The higher CBD concentrations are achieved in part by excluding any male plants from the field. However, the Springfield, Colorado, area farmer was growing for CBD in a different manner. They planted conventional grain seed at a fraction of the cost, and about 50% of the plants were male.
Nusser said all the information received from hemp growers, seed producers and processing facilities on the tour will provide a foundation for the future for answering questions, making decisions and addressing challenges as this potential crop becomes a reality in Texas.
Through the application of science-based knowledge, AgriLife Extension creates high-quality, relevant continuing education that encourages lasting and effective change.