Grown Here at Home: Where hemp research stands in our neck of the woods
2019 was the first year farmers were legally allowed to start producing hemp here in the Commonwealth. Virginia Tech and the Virginia Cooperative Extension are working together to conduct research.
"Where the marketplace is today in 2020 is around cannabinoid production, which is what you see behind me. And many of the farmers in Virginia, that's what they're investing in," said Kelli Scott with the Virginia Cooperative Extension:
Here are the rules for Virginia farmers.
"If you want to grow hemp in Virginia, then you need to get a permit through the Virginia Department of Agriculture. And they have their regulations of what it means to grow hemp. Not only in Virginia, but the federal regulation means the THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in the plant, has to be at .3% or lower. Anything above .3% is classified as marijuana. And so that's where the biggest regulation is, is making sure that farmers are compliant within those means," Scott said.
The first growing season for farmers hasn't shown a clear-cut way to do that.
"Generally good, sound research out of any university is going to take a minimum of three years. And with us only being a year or two of us being legally able to handle the crop, we really don't have that sound replicated research to say these are the best practices for a farm to follow," explained Scott.
However, farmers are required to test their plants through the Virginia Department of Agriculture or private labs to monitor THC levels in the plants.
"When the plant gets above the .3%, then it's defined as hot or uncompliant and they know they have to harvest," Scott said.
With the first growing season out of the way, the question remains, is there a future in all this, or is it just a fad?
"That's something that we really need some time to see really see where it's going to go," Scott said.