Interest in hemp production in Alabama has been growing for several years, initially spurred by the passage of our state’s 2018 Farm Bill that removed it as a controlled substance.
Still, while the legalization of industrial hemp has led many producers to explore the crop for several different products, its production throughout the state remains relatively new. (This year marks the third growing season.) That means researchers still are developing best practices and recommendations.
Additionally, while entirely distinct from industrial hemp, the recent passage of the medical marijuana law that created the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission and started the state down the path to legal medical cannabis, has continued to increase the profile of hemp production.
Katelyn Kesheimer, Alabama Extension entomologist and leader of the hemp action team, said it is important to understand that hemp and marijuana are extremely different. While both are cannabis sativa, the plants have a major difference in chemical composition and have varied end usage.
“Hemp only contains a delta-9 THC concentration of 0.3 percent or less,” she said. “Marijuana has much higher THC levels and is the chemical that produces psychoactive effects when consumed. While the majority of hemp in Alabama is grown for cannabinoids, it can also be grown for grain and fiber.”
Industrial hemp can be used for several popular products that you might find in health food, hardware and clothing stores.
Hemp is used as a sustainable fiber in ropes, clothing, building materials and even carpets.
A food product, “hemp hearts,” actually is a nut that has a great nutty flavor and is quite nutritious. Most well-known are the CBD oils that have become popular for their active cannabidiol components.
Current producers of industrial hemp have to be approved through the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry. Production is strictly regulated to ensure that industrial hemp is grown for industrial purposes.
Right now, a group of Extension and Research faculty is looking for feedback from hemp growers. The survey can be accessed at https://bit.ly/3wvHJOq.
All answers are anonymous and will only be used for research purposes. The survey is designed to let researchers know what diseases and pests are most important to growers.
Please direct any questions to Kesheimer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-844-5072.
If you have any questions about Extension programs, reach out or stop by our office at 3200-A W. Meighan Blvd. in Gadsden, call us at 256-547-7936 or visit us on Facebook at https://bit.ly/3otwUdl or online at https://bit.ly/3yniPCx.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Everyone is welcome! Please let us know if you have accessibility needs.
Eric Wright is extension coordinator for the Etowah County Extension Office.
Read More: A look at industrial hemp as a crop in Alabama