New York State is poised to become a major producer of industrial hemp, providing healthy hempseed oil and grain food products, fiber for textiles, building materials, and other uses, and medicinally active compounds that potentially offer health benefits to people and animals.
The hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) is among the most ancient plants domesticated by humans, and has been used for its fiber, oil and medicinal properties. There are genetically distinct biotypes of Cannabis, and those which have low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, the principal intoxicating agent in marijuana, are classified as industrial hemp. These low-THC hemp biotypes are the focus of our research.
The School of Integrative Plant Science in Cornell CALS has assembled an enthusiastic and multi-disciplinary team of researchers who are collaborating with a team of Cornell Cooperative Extension Specialists to establish a nationally recognized program studying industrial hemp and extending that knowledge to growers and processors. There is tremendous commercial interest in industrial hemp as a new crop that can be sold into multiple markets, and SIPS faculty are leading research in hemp breeding, pathology, entomology, biochemistry, sustainable cropping systems, tissue culture and genome editing, controlled environment agriculture, and food product development.
With strong funding support from New York State, we are actively investigating:
- The best commercially available hemp varieties to grow in New York conditions.
- The development of new cultivars that will thrive in New York.
- Possible barriers to this industry’s development, including seed issues, diseases, and insect pests.