hemp is a versatile agricultural plant which could one day be a valuable crop
option for Pennsylvania farmers. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has taken
some important steps toward making that a reality. Following Governor Wolf’s signing of the Industrial Hemp Research Act, Number 92 in 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
launched the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program for the 2017 growing season.
Pennsylvania’s industrial hemp legislation was sparked by the passage of the
2014 Farm Bill, which gave federal permission for institutions of higher
education or state Departments of Agriculture to research the cultivation and
marketing of industrial hemp. As part of Pennsylvania’s Research Pilot Program,
industrial hemp would once again be legally grown in the Commonwealth for the
first time in 80 years. Through this program, the Department of Agriculture
issued research permits to institutions of higher education and to persons
interested in contracting with the Department to participate in the research of
industrial hemp cultivation and marketing in Pennsylvania. In 2017, fourteen
research permits were issued to twelve researchers, who cultivated industrial
hemp in thirteen different Pennsylvania counties.
of the research focuses that were explored in 2017 were: a study of the effect
of different planting dates, seed planting densities, tillage regimens, and
nitrogen levels on hemp; a survey of insect presence/pressure in hemp; hemp
variety comparison for suitability to PA growing conditions; study of hemp seed
oil processing and marketability; comparison of hemp’s capability for weed
suppression to other crops; evaluation of hemp’s performance for
phytoremediation and erosion control in mine reclamation; determination of
hemp’s antibacterial activity; and evaluations of hemp as an animal feed
ingredient (for both cattle and fish).
The Department has policies and procedures
in place for the commonwealth's hemp research program, which can be found in
the 2018 Pilot Program Parameters. Researchers from institutions of higher
education or growers who would like to be considered for participation in the 2018
program must submit a 2018 PDA Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program Permit
Application prior to the application deadline of January 19, 2018. Researchers
who participated in the 2017 Pilot Program may submit a Permit Renewal form by January
19, 2018 to continue their projects in the 2018 growing season.