Hemp research is still in its infancy across the Southeast. But as more data is developed and information is processed, an already growing market could continue to explode in popularity.
“If you look around the country, there’s now a Professor of Cannabis position open in Illinois. There’s one in Tennessee. There is money and energy going to research,” said Katelyn Kesheimer, Auburn University Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist.
More Years of Research Needed
More years of data are needed to provide growers the information they need to be successful long term.
“In Alabama, we’ve had one year. It’s going to be a long road,” Kesheimer said. “Once we start working with fiber or grain, I think that’s going to be a whole another set of questions and information we can get out.”
Kesheimer’s Research Focus
Kesheimer said some of the research studies she has been a part of this year include a focus on fertility, plant spacing trials, phytotoxicity and insecticide efficacy research in the greenhouse; and weed control and ant control.
It’s been a difficult growing season for Alabama hemp farmers. Fire ant swarms were a problem throughout the summer and into early fall. Low hemp quality has also been a concern with farmers, who just concluded harvesting their crop.
Kesheimer said between disease, insects and late plantings, they contributed to the crop being less-than-stellar quality.
She expects producers to be more aware and cautious moving forward.
“I think instead of just diving in head first they’re just waiting through and seeing. We don’t have all the answers yet, but I think people realize there are resources and to be more cautiously optimistic than anything, which is good. I hate for people to lose money,” Kesheimer said.