Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, received a nearly $1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to study organic hemp production, led by Kevin Gibson, professor of botany and plant pathology. Gibson and his team are interested in learning more about organic methods because there are no legal pesticides that growers can use on hemp. Also, they are interested in understanding how hemp may improve the viability of cover crops, which are difficult to grow in some areas because of late commodity crop harvests.
The Purdue research team will explore supply chains to gain an understanding of how hemp will go from farm fields to consumers, and a hemp extension specialist will help to communicate the results of the research to farmers. “This is a great opportunity to develop organic practices that can reduce the reliance on pesticides for all hemp growers,” says Gibson. “We also want to know how hemp might fit in rotation with other crops, how it might fit into a soil conservation system, and how cultivars and the timing of planting will affect growing success.”