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Prospective Hemp Farmers Visit Central State Research Plots During University's Hemp Field Day

Chris Welter
Central State University Extension (CSUE) Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Leader Dr. Cindy Folck and Ohio Department of Agriculture Hemp Program Executive Director David Miran speak in front of fiber plants at CSU's Hemp Field Day on October 6.

Prospective hemp farmers gathered in Wilberforce last week for Central State’s second annual “Hemp Field Day.” They saw the University’s hemp research plots and listened to experts speak about the licensing process and the challenges of being a grower.

There are three types of hemp crops: grain, fiber and metabolite. Metabolite hemp is grown for its Cannabidiol, or CBD, content.

Chris Welter
Close-up on a variety of metabolite hemp being grown at the CSU Research Farm in Wilberforce

There’s hemp grain, often sold as hemp hearts in grocery stores. And then there’s hemp fiber, which is strong enough to replace metal and glass as a building material.

Central State Professor Craig Schluttenhoffer says it’s possible to turn a profit growing hemp on fewer acres than other crops, like corn and soy, but, “It's a tricky crop. It's not for everyone. There are opportunities, so it's not complete doom and gloom, but it's not the easy cash that people were looking at a couple years ago and thinking this is a get rich quick scheme, saves the family farm. ”

Schluttenhoffer says prices for metabolite hemp are lower than they once were due to overproduction. There’s also significant risk: if Ohio Department of Agriculture tests show that a farmer's hemp has too much THC, the chemical that gives marijuana its “high”, the whole crop must be destroyed.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.