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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit » Research » Research Project #438474

Research Project: Fostering a Well-rounded and Sustainable Hemp Industry in the United States

Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit

Project Number: 2072-21000-056-003-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2020
End Date: Jun 30, 2023

1) Identify best management practices (BMPs) for grain, fiber, and floral hemp production in a transition zone environment. a. Investigate the role of seed quality/vigor and their interaction with soil, environmental and management factors in crop emergence and establishment. b. Identify economically significant insect pests and develop best management practices for control, including the use of targeted crop protection agents. c. Evaluate cultivars best suited for use in a transition zone and identify key cultivar characteristics for further improvement. d. Investigate fertility and irrigation requirements for hemp. 2) Evaluate the economic potential of hemp grown for fiber, grain, and floral products. a. Develop grower enterprise budgets with realistic assumptions for production costs and product market values. b. Evaluate pricing strategies for hemp products at the farm level. c. Use market research tools to evaluate potential markets and probe consumer preferences for hemp-based products. 3) Evaluate the potential of hemp foliage, grain, and by products for use as animal feed. a. Determine feed value and nutritional components in hemp forage, grain, and by-products such as extracted floral material and seed cake. b. Investigate the potential metabolic impacts of cannabinoids, terpenes, and isoflavones found in hemp on livestock. c. Evaluate the potential for biologically active compounds naturally found in hemp to be introduced into the human food chain through animal production systems.

Hemp has been reported to have many potential uses (fiber, grain, and floral/cannabinoid) and each use has different production requirements. There remains much to be learned about the integration of hemp into modern U.S. Agriculture. Our approach will be multidisciplinary and focus on building the human and institutional capacity to conduct continued research on emerging hemp production systems. There are three main agricultural thrusts for this agreement: 1) Agronomic production practices for different hemp uses, 2) Economic analysis of potential hemp markets and production practices, and 3) Product or by-product utilization in animal-based production systems. An early challenge for broad acre hemp production has been inconsistent establishment from seed in the field, leading to inadequate stands and reduced yields of fiber and grain. Little is known about the appropriate planting date and depth, or the role of seedling vigor in stand establishment for hemp. Experiments will be conducted to determine optimum seed placement, plant populations and evaluate cultivar performance. Results will be used to develop Best Management Practices (BMPs) for different hemp production scenarios. In support of Objective 1b, surveys will be conducted to identify major insect pests and their economic impacts on hemp production systems. The efficacy of recently labelled insecticides for hemp will be evaluated. In support of Objective 2, we will utilize data generated from this project in conjunction with information collected from field trials being conducted nationally to identify BMPs and incorporate the costs and benefits of BMPs into enterprise budgets to be shared with growers. Using information collected from this project and others we will evaluate the cannabinoid, terpene, and THC profiles of different cultivars to evaluate pricing strategies. We will investigate traditional commodity pricing strategies and identify novel pricing strategies that could be implemented for marketing of grain, fiber, and essential oil components. Market research will be used to identify quality characteristics that could be measured to provide growers value added opportunities for hemp. In support of Objective 3, we propose to collect hemp biomass and by-product material from hemp growers and processors for evaluation of the nutritive value of the materials. During collection we will gather data on the growing conditions, harvest methods and processing methods. Multiple regression techniques will be used to determine relationships between chemical constituents and the aforementioned agronomic and processing characteristics with a primary focus on describing the degree of compositional variation and determining the major factors influencing composition of hemp byproducts. We will also utilize in-vitro rumen digestion procedures to evaluate digestibility of primary and secondary hemp components. Finally, we will use cannulated steers to evaluate in-situ digestion of hemp components.