Is growing hemp a viable crop option?

Tony Nye - OSU Extension

The first step toward legalizing hemp in Ohio has been taken.

The USDA recently approved the State of Ohio’s hemp program. Senate Bill 57 was signed into law, decriminalizing hemp and paving the way for the development of a new industry in our state. These decisions now will make it legal for the state’s farmers to grow the crop.

Before you think you are going to jump right into hemp production, you should get the facts.

The first place to start will be the Ohio Department of Agriculture website and check out the rules and regulations that are in place.

One such item of importance is the fact that farmers will have to obtain a license to grow hemp. Licenses will also be required for hemp processors and some research facilities. The licenses are not yet available.

Details on how this process will operate are currently being worked out, along with the rules and regulations regarding the cultivation and processing of hemp. The goal is to have farmers licensed and able to plant the crop by spring of 2020.

As a result of these event, The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will be looking into discovering opportunities in Ohio’s possible new cash crop.

Currently planned is a program titled “Growing Hemp in Ohio: Separating Fact from Fiction,” set for Jan. 24 at the CFAES Wooster campus in Wooster, Ohio.

The event will look at the opportunities and challenges facing Ohio hemp growers. Subjects will include hemp plant basics, growing practices, business considerations, rules, and regulations.

Also offered is an optional program the next day, Jan. 25, featuring six sessions by speakers from national and Ohio hemp-related businesses. Independence-based HempOhio is sponsoring the program.

Hemp, as many of you know, is closely related to marijuana, but lacks its psychoactive component, the chemical THC. Hemp has been found to be useful for making products including health food, paper, clothing, biofuels, bioplastics, and cannabidiol (CBD) oil.

The program on Jan. 24 runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature two tracks of sessions, one called “Industrial Hemp and Cultivation Practices” and the other “The Business of Growing Hemp.”

Sessions and speakers for the “Industrial Hemp and Cultivation Practices” track will include:

“Using Plasticulture, Drip Irrigation, and Fertigation” by Brad Bergefurd, horticulture specialist, CFAES

“Understanding Hemp,” Craig Schluttenhofer, research assistant and professor of natural products, Central State University

“Insect Control,” Luis Canas, associate professor of entomology, CFAES

“Soil Nutrition Fundamentals,” Steve Culman, assistant professor and state specialist in soil fertility, CFAES

“OSU Research Update,” Harold Keener and Bill Bauerle, Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, CFAES; and James Morris, Ohio State University Extension, CFAES

The sessions and speakers for “The Business of Growing Hemp” track will include:

“Ohio Rules and Regulations,” David Miran, Hemp Program, Ohio Department of Agriculture

“Market Perspectives,” Jonathan Cachat, Zativa (Independence, Ohio)

“Protecting Your Investment: Legal Issues,” Peggy Kirk Hall, associate professor and field specialist, agricultural and resource law, CFAES

“Grower’s Perspective,” Steve Ayers, Acela CBD (Maysville, Kentucky)

“Ohio Roundtable: Separating Fact from Fiction,” with Julie Doran, Ohio Hemp Farmer Cooperative, and the track’s previous speakers

According to information provided, the program to be held the following day on January 25 program will feature these topics:

“Media and Fertigation for Hemp Cultivation,” Bill Argo, Blackmore Co. (Belleville, Michigan)

“Machinery for Hemp Cultivation, Harvesting, and Drying,” Yebo Li, HempOhio

“Extraction and Processing of CBD from Hemp,” Ian James, Advanced Extraction (Brighton, Colorado)

“Organic Hemp: Seed to Sale,” Elaine Yu, HempRise (Jeffersonville, Indiana)

“Lab Testing Requirements for Hemp Cultivation and Processing,” Carolyn Friedrich, North Coast Testing Laboratories (Streetsboro, Ohio)

A tour of HempOhio’s nursery and processing facility.

General registration for the workshop, which includes continental breakfast and lunch on Jan. 24 and the optional program on Jan. 25, is $100 by Jan. 10 and $125 after that date. Currently enrolled college student rate is $50. Registration to attend only the Jan. 25 program is $25.

Online registration for the workshop is available at The workshop will be held in Fisher Auditorium on the CFAES Wooster campus, 1680 Madison Ave.

For more information, contact Mary Wicks at [email protected] or 330-202-3533.

Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for over 30 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.

Tony Nye

OSU Extension