While the USDA and the FDA may be struggling to come up with hemp industry rules, the scientific and research communities have hit the ground running in their quest to develop reliable hemp genetic material that is customized for different geoclimates and end uses. Here are some of the priorities that are driving this research on hemp genetics.
It may be a bit of a stretch to expect the same hemp variety that performs well in Southern Texas to perform well in Northern Montana as well. This is because those two locations are in different climatic zones, and therefore hemp varieties need to be developed for optimum performance in those different locations. Hemp breeders are working round the clock to develop hemp strains suitable for different geoclimatic zones in the country so that farmers are sure that the variety they get will perform well in their microclimate.
Marijuana cultivation has come a long way and autoflowering genetics are now available to enable all-year cultivation. The same is being considered for hemp cultivation.
However, the biggest challenge is that autoflowering varieties can only be developed by modifying the genetics of cannabis ruderalis, a variety which doesn’t have CBD, terpenes and the other desirable compounds for which hemp is grown.
A lot of work will therefore have to be done to ensure that hemp varieties that flower purely based on the number of days they have been growing (rather than on how many daylight hours are available) retain the high CBD and other compounds which make this a plant of economic interest.
Zero THC Content
One of the challenges that is likely to keep farmers awake is the fear that their crop will be tested for THC before harvesting can start and the crop will be found to have more THC than is permitted in industrial hemp.
This fear is real, because many state agricultural officials who are asked about this possibility say that farmers will have to destroy their crop if the THC content is higher than acceptable levels. Plant breeders are working feverishly to develop hemp genetics that contain zero THC so that farmers don’t have to play a dangerous roulette game with their investment.
Currently, the hemp varieties available are selected on the basis of the end-use. For example, some varieties are grown for CBD extraction while others are intended for grain or fiber. Can’t a farmer grow a variety that is good for more than one purpose? This question has attracted a lot of attention from plant breeders and they are working to make it possible for a farmer to grow a variety of hemp which has multiple uses upon harvest.
With all this work going on behind the scenes, experts believe industry actors like Earth Science Tech Inc. (OTCQB: ETST) and Geyser Brands Inc. (TSX.V: GYSR) are confident that the industry will get more profitable as every aspect is optimized.
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