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Brief presentations will be given by Purdue Agronomist and Hemp Research Lead, Ron Turco, as well as David King of ISDA's Indiana Grown initiative.
Purdue agronomy professor Ron Turco said, "We considered ourselves successful to get it planted, after 6 months of paperwork - and then it started raining and didn't stop…"
According to the State Climate Office, Indiana set a record for rainfall in the month of June, with a state average of 9.03 inches.
Turco observed that hemp is not a "particularly robust plant" regarding its resiliency, noting, "we lost a lot of plants in the rain."
He did caution that if the hemp had been planted on the more appropriate schedule, the results might have been very different.
Purdue's Ron Turco stated that marijuana and hemp are "exactly the same.
The difference is the THC content is less than .3 in hemp; in marijuana it is greater than .3." THC is the psychoactive element in marijuana.
Turco emphasized, "There is no THC in industrial hemp.
You can smoke the whole field and you'll end up with cancer before you'll get high."
Indiana is subject to the 2013 U.S. Farm Bill, Section 7506, which states that industrial hemp can only be grown or cultivated "for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural program…"
As a member of the Hemp Project, Turco is a licensed hemp grower in the state of Indiana under the aegis of the Indiana Seed Commissioner.
In Indiana, statute is interpreted as allowing university-based research only.
In Kentucky, Turco noted that the ag department of the University of Kentucky has involved numerous farmers in their pilot program.
Farmers and academics in Kentucky share a Memorandum of Understanding, greatly expanding the research opportunities beyond Indiana's current two acres.
Think of the old westerns where almost anyone could be deputized to assist the beleaguered and outnumbered sheriff.
The prospect of growing the program here in Indiana is unlikely, Turco indicated, at least until federal law changes.
Ron Turco noted that overall, in his dealings with state officials, everyone has been good to work with, from the state police to the Indiana Seed Commissioner.
Purdue researchers Janna Beckerman and Ron Turco are growing test plots of hemp so they can offer science-based crop advice to future commercial hemp growers. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)
But that will likely change, said Ron Turco, professor of agronomy and the assistant dean for agricultural and environmental research.
Beckerman and Turco co-led the Purdue effort to obtain federal and state permits to grow hemp for research, as well as import and export permits from Canada, in anticipation of a future market for U.S. hemp.
"Because of Purdue' s long history of working with biobased products, we are really well-positioned to be a leader in helping to craft a market for hemp products," Turco said.
"We don't yet know which varieties grow best or which soil conditions give the highest yields or the issues surrounding oil and fiber production.
A lot of technical details still need to be worked out.
But the fundamental research we're doing will help provide quality information about the production and processing of industrial hemp."
Turco emphasized that while hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species, hemp contains less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannibinol, or THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient chemical in marijuana.
By comparison, marijuana can have THC concentrations of 18 percent to 38 percent.
"We need to eliminate hemp's stigma," he said.
"It's not marijuana.
Ron Turco, 765-494-8077, email@example.comAg Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Ronald Turco has conducted critical research in his 30 years at Purdue University, but his current project is the first to be studied by federal drug agents.
The reason: Hemp.
An agronomist, Turco has spent months clearing hurdles to begin the first legal production of industrial hemp in decades in Indiana.
Facing questions from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was just one of many steps in getting the cannabis seeds into the ground.
"You can't just open up a catalog on the Internet and buy the stuff," he said.
That's why Turco had to wait for a DEA permit before he could order a 50-pound bag of seed from a wholesaler in Canada, where growing hemp is legal.
The cannabis strains that Turco and colleagues will plant, as soon their rain-sogged research field is dry, lacks the punch of the marijuana preferred by potheads.
Levels of THC - the psychoactive chemical in marijuana - will be 0.3 percent or less in their hemp.
The recreational drug sold legally in Colorado has TCH content as high as 35 percent.
"It's become the joke around here: You can try to smoke the entire field, and you'll get cancer before you get high," Turco said.
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