Industrial Hemp Part of the Focus at A&T Field Day June 15

Greensboro, N.C. (May 24, 2017)  - Gone for about 70 years, industrial hemp is poised to make a comeback in North Carolina.

Farmers and the public are invited to learn more about the state’s industrial hemp pilot program at the 16th annual Small Farms Field Day, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., June 15, at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University Farm, 3136 McConnell Road in Greensboro.

Sponsored by The Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T, the event shows farmers and gardeners how to increase food productivity, maximize income and promote environmental stewardship. The general public is encouraged to attend the free, rain-or-shine event, as well.

Following recent changes to federal and state laws, industrial hemp is again becoming a profitable crop in the U.S. with uses including food, dietary supplements, paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, biofuel and animal feed. The Hemp Industries Association estimates the 2015 U.S. retail market for hemp products was more than $570 million.

“Its potential is huge. Industrial hemp can do a lot of things,” said Dr. Guochen Yang, a professor at N.C. A&T and a member of the Industrial Hemp Commission. “You can grow it for seeds, or you can grow it for fiber.” Yang will be available at Small Farms Field Day to answer questions about what farmers must do to grow industrial hemp.

The N.C. General Assembly in 2015 legalized industrial-hemp production and established a pilot program to help small farmers generate income by growing the crop. The law was updated in 2016 to establish a pilot research program using the faculty expertise at N.C. A&T and N.C. State University, the state’s two land-grant institutions.

In addition to providing information about growing hemp, this year’s Field Day will include demonstrations of:

  • Insect screening and trellising for high-tunnel organics
  • High tunnel ginger production
  • Small-scale organic pecan production
  • Converting agricultural and food wastes into energy
  • Artificial insemination of beef cattle: the basics
  • Pasture pork production and management

Displays and posters will feature information about using multifunctional operations to improve long-term profits, nutrition, staying productive and injury-free after a disability, soil health, pollinator protection, homemade yogurt, food by-products and weight loss, the safety of grape-derived products and shelling eggs safely.

For more information or to register, contact Alexis Gaines at ajgaines@ncat.edu or 336-285-4661.