July 16, 2019
Garrett College to assist county farmers in an industrial hemp research project
Garrett College is working with a local farmer in an industrial hemp research project authorized within a 2018 state law.
As a result of Maryland House Bill 698, the Maryland Department of Agriculture recently established the Maryland Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. The purpose of the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program is to authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp. This includes any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.
This program requires farmers to partner with institutions of higher education to grow industrial hemp under a research program. Industrial hemp may not presently be grown in Maryland for general commercial activity, only as part of a research project.
While industrial hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species, industrial hemp is cultivated for fiber, seed, and other purposes. Federal and state laws require that the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – must be less than 0.3 percent in industrial hemp.
Products produced from hemp grown in Maryland may be sold as part of the pilot program as long as the THC concentration is below the legal limit. Some early statistics show the annual crop should bring about $25 to $35 per pound. With a yield of about one pound per plant and up to 2,500 plants per acre, that is around $60,000 per acre.
Garrett College is working with University of Maryland Agriculture Extension Educator Willie Lantz and a local farmer on the research project. The information from the project will be used by Lantz and Garrett College to develop continuing education coursework. There are also plans to hold meetings to discuss hemp production in the county which will include local growers participating in the research projects and experts from other areas. The college is also considering created an online course for local farmers based on the research.