SIU to Roll Out Hemp Research Program
Southern Illinois University has announced plans to clear land to plant a new hemp research field this upcoming spring. It will be part of a new program that is designed to help provide research to the state’s emerging cannabis industry and offer training to students interested in cannabis-related careers.
The program has been in the works for years. Earlier this year, the DEA allowed the university to start work on the 5-acre hemp field.
The field will be divided into a series of individual test plots with a portion set aside for “interdisciplinary collaboration” between agriculture, plant biology, chemistry, engineering and business students.
“We’re getting this request and input from stakeholders, who are reaching out to us, telling us they need the science,” said Karen Midden, interim dean of agricultural sciences. “But we’re also getting it from students — current and potential students — that they would like to have programs to prepare them for work in these areas.”
Given that Gov. Bruce Rauner recently legalized industrial hemp, researchers want to determine if it is feasible to grow the crop in Illinois. As part of the program, they will study how hemp fit in with Southern Illinois’ existing crops, like corn and soy beans.
“We really need science behind this,” said Aldwin Anterola, associate professor in plant biology. “Medical marijuana is in its infancy, and with our expertise at SIU, we could help a lot in terms of quality control and standardization.”