A United States industrial hemp seed distributor has joined a collaborative research and development initiative.
On Wednesday, Denver, Colorado-based International Hemp announced it had joined the Hemp Research Consortium (HRC).
Funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), HRC is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar initiative to develop new hemp fiber and grain cultivars.
Cornell University, North Carolina State University, and the University of Kentucky have also joined HRC.
Advancing Hemp Research
According to a press release, HRC will advance hemp cultivation and agronomy research in addition to developing and commercializing U.S.-bred industrial cultivars.
Cornell University has been researching hemp and working with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service since 2016.
Together, they launched an industrial hemp germplasm repository at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York.
According to the release, Cornell researchers have studied the role genetics play in determining THC levels in hemp and developed molecular markers to speed-up hemp breeding.
Researchers have used the markers to develop new fiber and grain cultivars for the final testing stages.
Through HRC, Cornell and International Hemp will work together to breed new hemp fiber and grain cultivars.
“We have some of the highest-yielding fiber and grain varieties for northern latitudes, and we recently started domestic certified seed production on two Italian fiber varieties for fiber growers in the southern United States,” says International Hemp CEO Derek Montgomery. “The U.S. hemp market needs high-yielding, certified varieties for fiber and grain, and we want to send the message that reliable, high-yielding, stable industrial hemp varieties bred by leading American universities are on the way.”
International Hemp says it was the United States’ largest producer of industrial hemp seed in 2021 under the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies’ (AOSCA) guidelines.
The company says it has supplied the nation’s hemp growers with enough certified seed to plan tens of thousands of acres for fiber and grain production.
According to the release, the material will serve as feedstock in the market development of hemp as a nutritious, plant-based protein ingredient and renewable building material.
International Hemp plans to dramatically increase domestic production in summer 2022, moving all of its certified seed production from Europe to North America.
Over a three-year period, International Hemp will contribute $1 million to the FFAR HRC.
The release states that FFAR will match International Hemp’s contributions and dispense $2 million in research grants to university members.
Research priorities include developing new hemp fiber and grain cultivars, improving harvesting techniques, and managing plant pests and diseases.
Cornell School of Integrative Plant Science professor Dr. Larry Smart, who has led the university’s hemp research and extension team, expressed his enthusiasm about collaborating with International Hemp.
“We couldn’t ask for a more committed, long-term partner in bringing our new fiber and grain cultivars to market for U.S. farmers,” says Dr. Smart.
HRC plans to research, publish, and share proper planting dates, soil fertility, harvesting efficiency, sustainable pest management, and improved testing technologies with the hemp cultivation community.