UC Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers are working to answer hemp questions through two field trials. One study is being conducted at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points, as well as an identical companion study being conducted at the UC Davis farm. The research is looking at planting density based on variety, as well as breeding observations on a wide range of genetics.
“When you’re diving into something that’s relatively new, and there’s a lot of relatively new genetics that’s trying to be incorporated into this, well then some of the genetics are not very stable,” said Bob Hutmacher, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist. “If the stability is related to variance in growth habit, that might not be an issue. If it’s a variance in THC concentration, it’s an enormous issue.”
While there have not been any definitive findings as to what types of pests are going to be an issue in hemp production, Hutmacher explained that various worm species have appears in their research trials. Some of the findings thus far have also shown a link between higher CBD concentrations and THC levels in plants, however, understanding that link will require further study.
“Unlike something that is just like a quality characteristic that would affect the price to the grower, THC content means you can sell it, or you can’t sell it,” said Hutmacher. “So, it’s like the ultimate quality characteristic as far as the growers concerned because it means you may not have a product you can make any money on.”
Further understanding of the crop and development of best practices for its production is going to require additional research. As a relatively new crop, the amount of supportive crop data is fairly minimal when compared to more established commodities that have decades of research available. Hutmacher noted that cooperation among industry partners is going to be necessary to help expedite the process of addressing important hemp questions. “I think a big part of it is going to be to hopefully, just like with a lot of other crops, develop a good working relationship so that you have access to the genetics; either from private breeders, public breeders, or the seed companies with what they think are commercial products,” Hutmacher explained.