Green Point Research, UF/IFAS announce industrial hemp pilot program

Green Point Research, UF/IFAS announce industrial hemp pilot program

The project aims to identify how existing farming equipment and operations can adapt to hemp production.

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According to a press release, Green Point Research (GPR) established a collaborative relationship with University of Florida's Institute of Food and AgriculturalSciences (UF/IFAS) to support an industrial hemp pilot project.

GPR signed a material transfer agreement for the industrial hemp project with UF/IFAS on March 12. Two weeks later, GPR has initially donated 200,000 seeds and 100 living plants, with more to come, which will eventually total more than $250,000 to the university.

"Green Point Research is excited to bring premium phytocannabinoid-rich hemp genetics to the University of Florida," said David Hasenauer, CEO of GPR and president of Hemp Industries Association of Florida. "These seeds produce high-quality hemp plants. Hopefully, they will soon be available to farmers who wish to produce an ecologically-friendly alternative crop."

Hemp plants have been proven in other states to be a viable, profitable, alternative crop due to their low maintenance and high-yield proliferation. Hemp grows faster than corn, but is thought to be ecologically-friendly in requiring less water, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, questions that research will answer.

On April 5, UF/IFAS planted the hemp seeds and began testing with material in preparation for field trials.

Preliminary assessment, including risk mitigation and economic impact analysis, and cropping systems must be established before commercialization to support the future sustainability of the crop. Through the Hemp Pilot Project, UF/IFAS aims to identify the best hemp varieties for the region as well as best measures for growing and reproduction, considering Florida's diverse environment and agronomic conditions. The project also aims to identify how existing farming equipment and operations can adapt to assist in hemp production.

To that effect, GPR also seeded the endowment with UF/IFAS through the Hemp Industries Association of Florida with a donation of $30,000, in addition to the aforementioned genetic material contribution. GPR aims to help conduct a full life-cycle analysis of the hemp plant in Florida, including indoor cloning, propagation, and growth studies, as well as high-CBD field trials.

"We are grateful for the plant material from Green Point Research and the contribution to the endowment. The pilot project needs continued industry support in order to be successful," said Zach Brym, assistant professor of agronomy and UF/IFAS hemp project director.

It is at the moment still illegal to grow hemp in Florida with exceptions only granted to the state's two land-grant universities, UF and Florida A&M University. UF/IFAS obtained special hemp permits to import GPR's hemp materials and to participate in cultivation and research.

GPR and UF/IFAS's Hemp Pilot Project had been under negotiations for the past year and was ultimately made possible by the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which created a state program to administer and oversee hemp production for industrial (non-drug) use.

Hemp has numerous industrial uses, including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food, and fuel.

Field trials are set to begin in May. For more information, visit the UF/IFAS's web page dedicated to the project.