By Karla Arboleda
People in South Carolina looking forward to growing industrial hemp will be able to get research updates from Clemson University.
While hemp pesticides have been approved in South Carolina, growers are still awaiting more regulations to be established by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA). David Dewitt, state coordinator for the Clemson Extension Hemp Program, talked about the hemp research underway.
“This year, we have a researcher in all of our experiment stations,” Dewitt said. “All of our growers for South Carolina are apparently growing for the extraction of CBD (cannabidiol). We’re close to 100 percent in South Carolina of actual acres that will be harvested.”
At the Pee Dee Research and Education Center, researchers are studying different varieties of hemp.
“They’re monitoring different varieties and taking (notes on) plant characteristics throughout the season,” Dewitt said, adding that researchers plan to study more than 50 varieties from all over the country to make comparisons.
Dewitt said when accounting for variable costs, growers may be spending anywhere from $6,000 to $27,000 per acre to grow hemp for CBD extraction.
Although the SCDA originally approved only 40 hemp growers for 2019, there are currently 114 hemp growers licensed in the state after a bill allowing lawmakers to do so passed in March. According to the SCDA, South Carolina hemp growers will have to get their permits renewed for 2020 soon.
“Our anticipation is that there won’t be a limit to the number of permits (and) number of acres,” Dewitt said. “As soon as the USDA starts getting some regulations out, we might start some movement on the 2018 farm bill that was signed in December. Hopefully they’re going to have some regulations out here in the next month.”
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