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Hemp Twilight Meeting Welcomes Record Crowd
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 08/23/2019

A record crowd showed up for Penn State's Industrial Hemp twilight meeting was held at the Southeast Research and Extension Center (SEAREC) located in Manheim.

Over 350 hemp enthusiasts attended the event, which was over twice the number who attended last year. Attendees came from almost every county within the state and from 10 surrounding states to see grain, fiber and CBD varieties of hemp. Dr. Greg Roth, retired Agronomy Professor, served as the host. Dr. Roth also announced the launch of the Penn State Hemp Website. Much of the information presented at the field day can be found on this growing site.

The program kicked off with a discussion of the legal and regulatory issues growers here in Pennsylvania must navigate. All fields of hemp, no matter what intended use must be tested to ensure that the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level is below 0.3%. Of particular concern was the testing method which is used to determine this value. State requirements currently are: "...all permit holders are responsible for locating a private laboratory for the purpose of testing the floral material of all hemp varieties grown on their farm for percentage THC. The laboratory must supply the Department with a Certificate of Analysis (COA) with the total delta-9 THC % for each hemp variety planted." Sarah Pickle, PDA Hemp Program, and Erica McBride, president of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council, led the discussion.

The remainder of the evening was spent discussing the various aspects of growing and harvesting mainly hemp for CBD extraction. Most hemp for CBD is currently grown on a black plastic mulch with trickle irrigation lines to supply water and essential nutrients. Dr. Alyssa Collins moderated a panel of producers who showcased their production systems and answered grower questions.

In addition to THC testing, many buyers will want certificates of testing for CBD and other cannabinoid levels which will vary with varieties, environment, maturity, and culture. Processors may also require you to test for foreign substances such as pesticides and heavy metals. Krystal Snyder, Penn State Extension Horticulture Educator in Northampton County, discussed sample collection and testing options.

Many growers are still figuring out their harvesting and drying methodology for high quality CBD extraction. A producer panel, with Steve Groff, Keystone Hemp, and Ben Davies, Wildfox Provisions, discussed what they are planning to do as well as harvest timing, harvest machinery, drying conditions and storage issues.

As the evening wrapped up, a brief discussion of marketing issues was led by moderator Alicia Anderson, Penn State Extension. Identifying a market and assessing the cost and income potential are essential before ordering your seeds or transplants. The meeting ended with a Q & A session, followed by a field tour of the hemp varieties and plots located on the research farm.

For more information on hemp, be sure to register for Penn State's free webinar series. Upcoming webinars will cover harvest and post-harvest handling for fiber and grain (Sept. 9) and CBD production (Sept. 23). Register at https://extension.psu.edu/hemp-webinar-series.

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