Industrial hemp promises to once again be a valuable crop for Tennessee’s agricultural economy. While much of the current interest is focused on production of CBD (cannabidiol), the ultimate appeal of industrial hemp lies in its potential to supply raw material for numerous processes and innovative products. Examples of past and current uses include textiles, fiber-reinforce composites, paper, and healthy phytochemicals. Because it hasn’t been available to Tennessee’s agricultural community for almost 70 years, today’s science and technology tools promises to further expand the versatility and value of hemp, leading to new economic impact.
The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is home to a number of researchers with the necessary skills, analytical tools, and creative ideas to generate the information and insight needed to realize the promise of hemp as a new industrial crop. Importantly, close integration with UT Extension allows that knowledge to be readily provided to Tennessee’s growers. This multi-disciplinary group of researchers and extension specialists are supporting the development of interest through the following:
- Identify the best commercially available hemp varieties to grow in Tennessee conditions, and develop new cultivars that will thrive in Tennessee.
- Identify the best management practices for hemp in Tennessee to maximize product yield and quality.
- Provide science-based solutions to hemp production challenges, including diseases and insect pests.
- Produce fact sheets, grower manuals, and internet resources.
- Compile, analyze and provide meaningful information on markets and end-product value.
- Generate new information on hemp structure and properties, processing behavior, and product performance as a source of chemicals an innovative materials