Hemp research a win-win for new Midwestern crop

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. 

University of Illinois Extension commercial agriculture educators are working with growers to source field data and provide cutting-edge research through the new Midwestern Hemp Database. Producer applications are now being accepted for the 2021 growing season online at go.illinois.edu/HempDatabase

“The database is an interactive platform, updated weekly, that helps guide 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 the mutually beneficial project, hemp producers submit information about their crop and university staff analyze and share that data with the public. In exchange for their involvement, growers receive discounted cannabinoid testing on samples.

“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 will not only be useful for processors, but also regulators. Data 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 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.”

SOURCE: Phillip Alberti, Commercial Agriculture educator, Illinois Extension
WRITER: Emily Steele, Media Communications Coordinator, Illinois Extension

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