Land under industrial hemp cultivation in Pennsylvania could grow from this year’s less than 50 acres to 5,000 acres in 2018.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced yesterday the state will expand cultivation opportunities for industrial hemp after the success of the 2017 growing season – the state’s first since industrial hemp disappeared from Pennsylvania as a legal crop decades ago.
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said this year’s growing season provided a wealth of information and important lessons on growing and harvesting the crop.
Next year, up to 50 individual growers or institutions of higher education will be permitted to grow up to 100 acres of industrial hemp each. It’s expected the participants in the 2017 season will also apply to renew their permits for 2018.
“Hemp had a long history in Pennsylvania until it disappeared from the landscape half-a-century ago, but now, I’m excited that we’ve brought it back and we’re creating new agricultural opportunities in the process,” said Governor Wolf.
In 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) will also permit research on industrial hemp growth, cultivation, and marketing relevant to the extraction or production of cannabidiol (CBD) compounds; or substances that contain them.
As with this year’s program, all cannabis plant material and products must have tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels of less than 0.3%. Plantings with THC levels higher than 1% (which is still a very low level) will have to be destroyed and there’s the added risk of prosecution by the feds, who will be informed of such instances.
PDA says it will not approve of any growing site located within four miles (around 6 kilometres) of an approved medical marijuana growing or processing facility. This is to avoid contamination of medical marijuana crops by industrial hemp pollen, which can result in seeds producing plants low in THC – a disaster for a medical cannabis grower focused on THC production.
Applications for the 2018 Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program must be submitted by January 19, 2018.
The full guidelines for the 2018 program can be viewed here (PDF).