NC A&T to hold February hemp conference

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North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will host a hemp conference for small farmers from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Alumni-Foundation Event Center, 200 N. Benbow Road, Greensboro.

The conference, organized by A&T’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will provide practical information for small farmers who are growing hemp or considering whether to grow hemp.

Topics include best practices for production, marketing and economics, licensing, the latest research, post-harvest processing and federal and state regulatory issues. “At A&T, we’re always seeking ways to help small farmers,” said Leon Moses, co-chair of the conference and superintendent of the A&T University Farm. “Because hemp is still a new opportunity, small farmers have lots of questions. Our conference will provide research-based answers.”

University experts presenting at the conference will be joined by researchers and officials from N.C. State and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Exhibitors and sponsors will share information about hemp-related products and services.

The versatile hemp plant can be grown for food, rope, dietary supplements, paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, biofuel and animal feed. CBD oil extracted from hemp has shown promise in treating a host of medical conditions, including anxiety, inflammation and insomnia.

“While hemp is promising, it may not be a viable option for every farmer,” said Dr. Sanjun Gu, co-chair of the conference and horticulture specialist with Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T. “Our conference will help farmers decide if they should invest in growing this crop on their farm.”

Since 2016, researchers in the CAES have been exploring hemp’s potential for North Carolina, working to identify the best varieties for CBD production, determine optimal rates of fertilizer application, and investigate hemp’s potential in new energy technologies.

As of December, the state had licensed 1,387 growers of industrial hemp who have been authorized to grow more than 17,000 acres of field space and more than 6.7 million square feet of greenhouse space.

“There’s a hemp craze,” Moses said. “In my experience in agriculture, and I’ve been farming all my life, I haven’t seen any other crop come along that has created so much excitement.”

The cost to attend the conference is $50 for farmers and other members of the public, and $100 for Cooperative Extension agents. Registration, which closes Feb. 4, is available via a link on the conference webpage: http://bit.ly/HempConf2020.

For more information about the conference, contact Victoria Weeks, Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T administrative support associate, at vnweeks@ncat.edu or 336-285-4661.

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