Delaware Public Media

Ag Department launches hemp study ahead of legal production

Mar 14, 2019

The state’s Agriculture Department is working with Delaware State University this summer to study how to best grow hemp.

The 2014 federal Farm Bill made it legal to grow hemp for study purposes and last year’s Farm Bill legalized the plant for commercial production pending regulations from the USDA. 

The state Ag department is taking applications from First State farmers interested in growing up to ten acres of hemp this season for a state-run study to find the best growing methods for the new commodity.

Delaware’s Deputy Ag Secretary Kenny Bounds says growers will take detailed agronomic records to be submitted to DSU. The university will produce an analysis recommending best growing practices to farmers.

“What’s the best combination of seed and fertilizer and irrigation to get the maximum yield on this crop,” said Bounds.

Bounds says he expects DSU to finish its analysis this fall around the same time the USDA finalizes regulations on hemp production for the 2020 growing season. He adds hemp could add a boost to Delaware’s economy starting next year.

“The bottom line is to try to get another crop in Delaware we can make some money to diversify the income,” he said. “We want to make sure people spend as much time on their business planning as their agronomic planning.”

Hemp can be used as a food ingredient. It can also be made into CBD oil which is found in some cosmetics and is a natural remedy for several medical ailments. Hemp fiber can be used for many things like clothing, construction materials and paper.

Bounds says he expects it will be used locally in the poultry industry for bedding material.

Farmers can participate in the study by visiting the Delaware Ag Department website.