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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Cotton Quality and Innovation Research » Research » Research Project #442260

Research Project: Sustainably Incorporating Hemp at Multiple Scales into Western U.S. Regional Economies along the Rural Route 97 Corridor

Location: Cotton Quality and Innovation Research

Project Number: 6054-44000-080-013-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2021
End Date: Aug 31, 2024

The primary goal of this research is to develop a sustainable agricultural system to integrate hemp production and utilization into regional economies in the western U.S. along the rural Route 97 corridor. Specific objectives for ARS are: 1) Implement a small-scale stalk-fiber conversion system for hemp, 2) Perform characterization of hemp bast fibers produced using the small-scale stalk-fiber conversion system, and 3) Perform miniature-scale textile processing on a sub-set of fiber samples. This work is intended to allow the genotype-phenotype relationship of hemp to be explored.

This research will be conducted in two phases consisting of a period of experiment development followed by a period of routine processing and phenotyping samples. A small-scale retting and decortication system to convert stalk samples into fiber and hurd will be developed and implemented. The retting will be performed in a temperature-controlled bath to accelerate the breakdown of lignin and connective tissues. The decortication process will be based on prior ARS work developed for flax bast fiber conversion at the Cotton Quality Research Station in Clemson, SC. The processed stalk samples will produce both hurd and fiber and the ratio of components will be calculated. Hurd will be sent to another co-PI for analysis and utilization while bast fiber will be retained for further work. Bast fiber will be characterized for length, length distribution, fineness, and tensile properties. Standard and modified cotton fiber testing equipment will be utilized to conduct the phenotyping. Select bast fiber samples will be subjected to miniature-scale textile processing in which approximately 60 grams of fiber will be converted into yarn and fabric for further assessing the fiber quality characteristics. Yarn and fabric will be characterized using standard textile methods. Phenotype information from the hemp fiber will be combined by other investigators with genotype data to allow the genotype-phenotype relationship of hemp to be investigated.