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Hype or Hope? CCE Podcast Cuts Through the Hemp Haze

Delve into the hemp industry in New York State (and nationwide) with the latest episodes of Extension Out Loud, the podcast from Cornell Cooperative Extension.

larry smart hemp

Larry Smart (faculty) examining hemp plants in the greenhouse at Cornell AgriTech.
Credit: Justin James Muir / CALS

A versatile crop, hemp has many uses post-harvest from fiber for biocomposites (potentially a replacement for fiberglass), to extracting cannabidiol to using the protein for plant-based foods. Production has been tripling annually for the last three years, and it is estimated there are 8,000 to 10,000 acres in production in NYS — up from 2,400 acres last year. 

The first two parts of this podcast series are with Larry Smart, professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the associate director of Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY. Smart walks the listener through the technicalities of producing and selling hemp within New York. For example, access to pesticides — primarily to combat the European corn borer — for hemp growers was challenging since hemp was federally illegal. Until recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could not register any pesticides for use on hemp.

In fact, last week EPA announced that they are in review of 10 applications for pesticide products for use on hemp and New York state, DC, just in the last few days has published a list of products that they have approved for use on hemp for pest and disease management,” Smart said. 

Other legal issues were addressed by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo in part three of the series. Lupardo said that the process for approval for growing hemp in NYS — following the 2014 Farm Bill permitting the growth of hemp — had fewer speed bumps than expected, as the different levels of state government all worked together to get this passed. Lupardo also mentions that the support of Cornell University, SUNY Morrisville, and the Binghamton School of Pharmacy as willing research partners combined for a statewide effort to jumpstart the industry. 

Both Smart and Lupardo emphasized the importance of interested growers participating in research. Hemp is demanding of nitrogen and phosphate, similar to corn, and requires healthy soil so the hemp does not leach old chemicals in the soil. Proper licensing is required by the NYS Department of Ag & Markets and a proper business plan is necessary to apply. Smart and Lupardo recommend speaking with your local cooperative extension specialist to analyze your farmland and soil and to learn the technicalities of the legal aspects before starting your endeavor in hemp. 

These podcasts offer new insight into the ever-changing hemp industry in New York. Learn more about hemp breeding, worries over cross-pollination, United States Department of Agriculture maintained germplasm bank at Cornell AgriTech, market regulations and more in this three part series: Hype or Hope? Cutting through the Hemp Haze

Kelsie Raucher

Kelsie Raucher

Kelsie is from southwest Missouri and grew up on a 150-acre farm helping her family buy and sell horses and cattle. She credits FFA for finding her passion for agriculture and food issues and desiring a career as an “agvocate.” Since coming to Cornell, she has gained interest in local production, global food issues, and environmental impacts of and on agriculture. She joined the Cornell Small Farms Program in May of 2018 and is excited to gain experience to complement coursework in the Agricultural Sciences major and Communication major.
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