Oregon State University officials have launched the nation’s largest research center devoted to the study of hemp. Under the leadership of Jay Noller, former head of the Crop and Soil Science Department, the hemp center will coordinate research in Oregon and other parts of the United States and with partners in Europe and China.
For example, researchers will use a $1 million gift from a private company, Oregon CBD, to study hemp genomics. Among the potential benefits are better disease resistance, higher productivity and more predictable product quality.
“We want to understand how to efficiently and sustainably grow hemp. Multiuse hemp is what we are excited about globally,” says Noller. Such uses could include:
• Fiber materials for textiles and construction.
• An alternative to gravel in concrete.
• Hemp oils for health and wellness applications.
• Hemp grain in foods.
OSU is already recognized internationally for expertise in hemp cultivation, says Alan Sams, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “We believe that Oregon State University is uniquely positioned to serve the global need for research-based understanding of hemp as a crop and for its use in new products.”
The decision to create the center follows discussions with state and federal officials and congressional passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which decriminalized hemp cultivation.
BY THE NUMBERS
40 OSU faculty in 19 academic disciplines engaged in hemp research and Extension
1,342 Oregon growers licensed in 2019 to raise hemp
46,219 acres licensed for hemp production in Oregon in 2019
$22 billion: The market for hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) by 2022 (Source, the Brightfield Group)