Purdue held its first ever hemp field day on Friday in Lafayette. Interest in the event was so strong that Marguerite Bolt, Purdue’s first ever hemp specialist, said that registration had to be shut down when they reached 200. Bolt started in the position two months ago and says growers have had a lot of questions that they were hoping to get answered at the field day.
“How do I get a license for next year? Is there a list of certified seeds? How do I, where do I buy clones? Where do I sell it? The whole processing aspect is a huge question of, ‘Well if I want to plant this, where am I going to sell it?’ Then we have questions about production ag and agronomy. So, what are the best soil types? How deep should I plant it? What kind of insects or pathogens am I going to have to deal with?”
And the follow-up to that question is, “Can I spray anything for it?”
Bolt says, “The pesticide question is frequent. It’s an easy answer because there’s nothing labeled, but it’s being asked because other states have a list and we don’t have a list. The state chemist office is working very hard to try to figure out if we can have a list like these other states, but we’re not there for this year. Hopefully, we can try to figure something out for next year before people even put seeds in the ground.
In addition to that, there are no herbicides labeled for use with hemp, making weed pressure a major issue. She said that research is happening at Purdue and other universities now to work on a solution to that problem.
Bolt added that crop conditions around the state have varied. Her plot in Lafayette is incredibly weedy and sits on clay heavy soil that is prone to flooding. But at Purdue’s plot in Southwest Indiana, “Their fiber hemp, and even their grain, looks incredible and they are on sandy, well-drained soil. So, we think that those well drained soils in a wet year like this is going to be exactly what you need because the soil is prone to crusting when it’s wet and the seedlings can’t actually get through the soil crust. When you have fields that have standing water, it just won’t germinate. It makes it more susceptible to some of the seedling pathogens that we’ve found out in the field.”
Hear more from Bolt, including upcoming hemp events, by listening to my full interview below.