February 01, 2018, Pennsylvania
In an unprecedented move, a university in Pennsylvania has submitted an application to the Department of Agriculture to allow them to move their hemp research facility to Lancaster County. The research program was initially started on a farm near the university campus in 2017.
As per a local news report, Greg Roth, the professor of Agronomy at the Penn State University who is looking over the program, is very hopeful that they will get the approval from the state. If allowed, the university can cultivate commercial hemp at 100 acres of land in Lancaster County. A research facility will also help farmers in the area to learn the new techniques of agronomy.
Lancaster County is the biggest agriculture site in the state of Pennsylvania. University has a plan to invite farmers there to join them during summers to participate in the discussions regarding the scope of farming industrial hemp in the state. They will also be able to witness the trials conducted by the research facility.
Till early 20th century, Hemp was a crucial harvest of the Lancaster County. However, the cult popularity of ‘Reefer Madness’, a 1937 film about the negative effects of marijuana, and subsequent prohibition badly hit the agriculture industry in the state. This gap of several decades stalled the progress on improving the hemp harvest. Now, the new generation of farmers doesn’t have the required skill set to cultivate hemp to its full potential. They are also not well aware of the monetary benefits of growing this crop.
The program from the Penn State University will cover all these aspects which haven’t been touched in the past 80 years. In 2017, hemp was cultivated at an area less than 50 acres at 16 different sites authorized by the department of agriculture.
This year the program has been expanded significantly where around 50 growers and college/university research facilities are allowed to grow up to 100 acres of the strains. The area has a rich history regarding hemp cultivation. William Penn, an English real estate businessman, founded the state of Pennsylvania more than three centuries ago. Wide scale Hemp cultivation was one of his major objectives to establish the economy of this newly formed colony.
Just few years afterwards, the state assembly had started to give subsidy to the farmers growing hemp. Similarly, when Lancaster County was formed in the early 16th century, one of its first communities was called Hempfield Township because of the amount of hemp cultivated there.
At first, hemp was cultivated to get fiber for the manufacturing of fiber and other related articles. But now hemp is grown for a wide range of reasons. From medicines to biofuels and from construction material to food items, hemp has many industrial uses. With so much commercial importance, hemp’s harvesting has a lot of potential for the farmers in the state and all over the US.
It is entirely possible that we might be seeing hemp as one of the biggest cash crop of Pennsylvania in coming years.