A Purdue University assistant dean believes, although the full potential of industrial hemp production in Indiana is unknown, commercial growth will be part of the state’s economic future. Ron Turco will be part of an event near Lafayette August 25 to discuss what challenges and rewards farmers could face.
Prospective industrial hemp producers in the state would still need federal regulations to change in order to grow the crop, which has been banned since the late-1930s. Last year’s Farm Bill cleared the way for research-based growth.
Turco says, if federal legislators approve industrial hemp production for common, commercial use the key to its success will be finding markets for it. Purdue says the 80-year freeze on its production has left "information gaps" for producers.
Turco says some states that are embracing the possible expanded future of the crop are Kentucky, Tennessee and Colorado.
Researchers at Purdue has planted test crops to look into basics such as expected yields, optimal soil conditions, nutrient application as well as pest and disease management and identification. Beckerman says "what we have learned sometimes conflicts with the ‘conventional wisdom’ found on the Internet, but we invite people to come see for themselves."
Hemp seed uses include oil and animal feed. The plant fibers can be part of textiles or building materials. The rough, lower portion of industrial hemp can be turned into "hempcrete," which is carbon dioxide-absorbent and recyclable.
Turco believes commercial growth will eventually win approval and import/export permits from Canada will also get the green light. Around $38 million in hemp and seed imports from China and Canada enter the country each year.
The Purdue Extension Field Day event is August 25 at the Meigs Farm, which is part of Throckmorton Purdue Agricultural Center, just south of Lafayette.
Turco tells Inside INdiana Business he would like to see the federal government permit production of the highly-regulated plant for industrial uses within a year and a half.: