Five industrial hemp projects to begin in the midstate

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Apr 17, 2017 1:58 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Industrial hemp is coming to the midstate.

As the weather warms up, five research projects are set to begin.

The state Department of Agriculture approved the projects in Berks, Dauphin, Mifflin, Perry, and Schuylkill counties.

They'll study different uses of industrial hemp.

While it comes from the same species as marijuana, it's impossible to get high from smoking industrial hemp because its THC content is so low.

At Rodale Institute in Berks County, Ross Duttfield is particularly interested in figuring out if industrial hemp could replace products like Roundup.

"If you could use a crop like hemp to smother weeds and help break up the weed cycle and the germination cycle, I think that farmers would look at that as a potential to help improve their system," says Duttfield. "There's always room for additional tools in a farmer's toolbox, especially when it comes to improving the health of the soil."

Duttfield says industrial hemp is appealing from an environmental perspective, but farmers could also harvest it after the summer and sell its fibers to various industries.

He says Rodale's project will start sometime next month, and early results should be in by the end of the year.

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