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Jan 5, 2021
Auburn University Grant To Cover Hemp Production Research

The Auburn University College of Agriculture’s Production Agriculture Research, or PAR, grants program is working to provide immediate solutions to stakeholder-identified problems in Alabama, including hemp.

Established in 2017, the PAR program already has resulted in significant outcomes, including the development and implementation of new research innovations and increased partnerships with stakeholders, said Henry Fadamiro, associate dean for research for the College of Agriculture and associate director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, or AAES.

One of these projects marks Auburn’s first foray into hemp production research. With the 2014 Farm Bill, many states began producing hemp for fiber, grain or flower. Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill listed hemp as an agricultural commodity, leading to even more states, including Alabama, signing on to grow hemp.

The problem in Alabama and elsewhere is that there has been little to no research conducted on hemp in the last several decades, so available information is limited.

The College of Agriculture’s project is a collaboration between the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, the Department of Horticulture and the Plant Diagnostic Laboratory.

“This is Auburn’s first year conducting research on hemp, so the goals were to examine best agronomic practices for cannabidiol, or CBD, hemp that growers could adopt in Alabama,” said Katelyn Kesheimer, assistant professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. She is conducting the research along with Joe Kemble, professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture.

Local producers have lamented the lack of management recommendations for this “new crop,” Kesheimer said.

“The project grew one acre of CBD hemp at E.V. Smith Research Station with multiple varieties donated from a Southeastern hemp company,” she said. “We examined two variety’s response to differing nitrogen treatments, as well as two varieties at different plant spacing.”

The work will continue through the winter at the Plant Science Research Center in Auburn with phytotoxicity studies, pesticide efficacy work and propagation work.

The grants are administered through the AAES with USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch funding and matching state appropriations. Many of the two-year, $50,000 PAR grants support combined research and Extension projects to address current farming problems in a timely manner through applied research.

To date, 42 projects have been funded with a total initial investment of more than $1.94 million. Results from approved projects have been used to leverage several times the total investment in extramural funding from various sources, including federal agencies, foundations and the agriculture industry.

Twelve projects were funded in 2020 for a total of $569,270.

Source: Paul Hollis, College of Agriculture, Auburn University; Photo at top: The 2020 Auburn University College of Agriculture’s PAR grants program included Auburn’s first foray into hemp production research. Leading that research are Joe Kemble, professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture, and Katelyn Kesheimer, assistant professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.




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