In his 18 years at the John C. Pair Horticulture Center, director Jason Griffin has had more calls about hemp in the past two weeks than any other crop in his tenure.
Recently the facility was selected to serve as a research “home base” for industrial hemp growth. After obtaining their license and approval, staff will plant eight to twelve different kinds of approved hemp species in plots, monitor its growth and report back to the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
“First of all, we need to find what varieties grow well in Kansas. We need to find out how to grow them in Kansas. We assume there are gonna be some varieties that are going to do very well, some aren’t going to do very well, and our job, as a research university, is to find out which of those do well and which don’t,” Griffin said.
Planting will take place in early May and harvest will be in late September or early October.
Griffin hopes the research will bring answers for the state’s knowledge and save farmers a lot of possible heartache and coin.
“This is a crop like every other crop and as every experienced farmer knows, there is a risk associated with a crop. Hemp cannot be insured yet, so there’s no insurance on this, so a farmer that invests a significant amount getting industrial hemp in the ground, that’s all on them,” Griffin said.
He jokes with people that his job is to kill plants, so you don’t have to.
Griffin hopes to nail down solid research on industrial hemp practices before the conversation of commercial hemp heats up in a few years.