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Hemp growers help new industry grow by joining research project

Photo source: Phillip Alberti.

URBANA, Ill. – Industrial hemp is one of the fasting growing crops across Midwestern fields and researchers are recruiting producers in the race to learn more. 

For the second year, University of Illinois Extension commercial agriculture educators are working with growers to source field data that provides producers with cutting-edge research through the Midwestern Hemp Database.

Producers who participate in the 2021 program will receive discounted cannabinoid testing. Applications are available now through July 16. Visit to review eligibility information and fill out the online survey to start the application process. 

“The database is an interactive platform, updated weekly during the growing season that helps provide regional insight for growers,” says Phillip Alberti, an Illinois Extension commercial agriculture educator. “Together, we’re working to understand the performance of production practices and several hundred hemp cultivars used in the Midwest.”

In 2020, more than 130 hemp growers submitted information about their crop. University staff analyzed and share that data with the public through the public database. In exchange for their involvement, growers receive discounted cannabinoid laboratory testing on samples. Results from the 2020 growing season are available at

 “As this is a new crop, we simply do not know what is and is not working in the Midwest,” Alberti says. “This project allows us to learn a lot in a short period of time while allowing growers to conduct their own analysis.”

The database is useful for processors and regulators. Information from the Midwestern Hemp Database was used to support rule changes in the USDA Final Rule.

"The impending adoption of these rules has made 2021 another valuable year to gather information for producers,” Alberti says.

The database is a collaborative project between private laboratories Rock River Laboratory, Inc., Pride Analytics and Consulting and ACT laboratories, and four Midwestern land grant universities: Michigan State, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Purdue University.

“This project puts data from around the Midwest into an easily accessible and interactive format,” Alberti says. “Growers can feel confident using this database to make informed decisions about their operation.”

Anyone interested in participating in this program can contact Alberti at or (217) 300-7392. 

SOURCEPhillip Alberti, Commercial Agriculture educator, Illinois Extension
WRITEREmily Steele, Media Communications Coordinator, Illinois Extension

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