Update on Industrial Hemp for Texas—March 2020
Dr. Calvin Trostle, Extension Agronomy, TAMU Soil & Crop Sciences, Lubbock, TX
(806) 723-8432, firstname.lastname@example.org
March 4, 2020
USDA & Texas Department of Agriculture Rules Updates
Texas Department of Agriculture legal counsel Tim Kleinschmidt was a February 19 guest during a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension webinar. He noted final Texas hemp rules will be published in the Texas Register on March 6. TDA will seek to open the online portal for hemp license applications the second full week of March (March 16-20). Watch the TDA hemp webpage for further details, https://www.texasagriculture.gov/RegulatoryPrograms/Hemp.aspx
Current Hemp Interest & Crop Insurance Considerations for 2021
Overall, my phone calls and e-mails about growing hemp in Texas have declined the past month. I receive few reports of CBD buyers/contractors. The reality of low prospects on CBD prices is a major consideration. I believe some market demand for CBD in 2020 will be met by the 2019 unprocessed crop sitting in storage. Some individuals may plant some hemp apart from economics. Established farmers are evaluating the implications of having 2020 yield history for possible future crop insurance purposes. Yield-based hemp crop insurance is available in at least 21 states in 2020, if a grower has at least one year of yield history. The insurance this year for those growers requires (I believe) at least five acres if for cannabinoid production, at least 20 acres if for grain or fiber.
I do not know if this acreage requirement applies to the first year of production a farmer uses to establish his or her production history. That is a question for a crop insurance agent or your county USDA Farm Service Agency office.
Texas State Seed & Plant Board Approves First Certified Hemp Seed Applications
TDA rules in time will require certified seed. This is being waived for the start of hemp production in Texas for 2020 (at least initially). The Seed & Plant Board consists of five appointed individuals who are most likely university scientists (breeders or geneticists) or commercial seedsmen. In collaborating with TDA they provide the scientific and plant genetics knowledge to evaluate applications to TDA for any crop seed in Texas that seeks certification. Upon approval by the Board companies must complete the certification process which includes submitting a reference seed sample to TDA. To my knowledge it is rare if ever that TDA chooses differently from a recommendation from the Board.
In mid-February the Seed & Plant Board approved the first hemp varieties for certification. They are cannabinoid lines (five CBD, one CBG) from Sunbelt Hemp, Soperton, Georgia. Companies interested in the certification process for hemp varieties should contact Texas Department of Agriculture to learn how to begin the process.
Texas A&M AgriLife Hemp Variety Trials–Updated
We continue to work on the details for how we in AgriLife will offer our public hemp variety trials for Texas in 2020. Trials will include grain, fiber, and cannabinoids, and possibly dual-purpose (CBD & fiber; grain & fiber). There has been little done in other states to implement a thorough crop testing program. Though this will not be a requirement in 2020, in 2021 we should anticipate that any commercially released variety entered in a Texas A&M AgriLife trial must be certified for planting in Texas. If a company has a line that is not yet released, that is, it is not yet marketed as a commercial variety, then those lines can be considered.
The sharp dilemma Texas A&M AgriLife faces with variety testing for industrial hemp is the major cost of conducting the work. It will be far higher than any other crop we test. This includes not only properly evaluating a variety’s yield performance (per acre assessment of fiber, grain, or cannabinoids), but also tracking over time the potential development of THC. Because the Crop Testing Program is required to be self-supporting, we must ensure protocol costs are covered. This is much more than “just growing hemp.” For example, we are anticipating that to properly conduct a scientific evaluation of one hemp variety at one site (four replications), we may have as many as 24 samples to collect, dry, process, then submit for THC testing. (And each sample will be a composite from as many as 10 plants. This will require substantial labor.)
Ongoing Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hemp Resources
We continue adding resources at http://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/hemp Trostle’s comprehensive “First Things” three-part hemp PowerPoint series is AgriLife’s most detailed document to date. Slides that are updated have a colored * so readers can readily recognize updated material from the previous edition. The February 4 editions will be updated the week of March 16th (look under ‘Hot Topics & Latest Updates’ on the main page.)
My staff is helping: we should have a Twitter account readily shortly, anticipate @TexasA&MAgriLifeHemp
Upcoming Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hemp Programs
• March 11, 1:30 p.m. registration, program 2:00-4:30 p.m., East Travis County Service Center, 6011 Blue Bluff Road, Austin. Noel Troxclair, Travis Co. Ag. Extension Agent, (512) 854-9600.
• March 11, 6:00 p.m. registration ($20), program 6:30-9:00 p.m., 100 Wilco Way, Room 226, Georgetown, TX. Gary Pastushok, Williamson Co. Ag. Extension Agent, (512) 943-3300.
• March 12, 2:00 p.m. registration ($20), program 2:30-5:00 p.m., 901 Williamson Road, Buda, TX (between Austin & San Marcos); Jason Mangold, Hays Co. Ag. Extension Agent, (512) 393-2120.
• March 23, 8:30 a.m. registration ($20), program 9:00-11:30 a.m., Ellis County Youth Expo, 2300 W. 287 Bypass, Waxahachie, Texas. Justin Hale, Johnson Co. Ag. Extension Agent, (817) 556-6370, or Mark Arnold, Ellis Co. Ag. Extension Agent, (972) 825-5175.
• March 23, 2:00 p.m. registration ($20), program 2:30-5:00 p.m., Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center,1710 North F.M. 3053, Overton, TX (near Tyler & Longview); (903) 834-6191, or Jamie Sugg, Rusk Co. Ag. Extension Agent, (903) 657-0376.
• May 5, tentative. Hemp seminar tailored to county government and law enforcement staff. Amarillo. Megan Eikner, Potter Co. Ag. Extension Agent, (806) 373-0173, Megan.Eikner@ag.tamu.edu