EL RENO, Okla. — The roots of Oklahoma’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program are in the process of being planted.
Redlands Community College is taking the reins and launching a project to help lay the program’s foundation. From the seeds to the stalk, leaves and roots; hemp is touted as a wonder crop with over 50,000 different uses.
“Automobile industry, plastics industry, you know food and beverage industry; it’s just, it’s unbelievable the opportunities industrial hemp can provide for farmers for outlets for their market,” said Redlands President Jack Bryant.
Over the next year, students and staff at Redlands will be working with select farmers in different regions of the state to study the science and agriculture associated with hemp.
“In this case, farmers are going to have to understand what type of soil grows best, what type of machinery do they need, what is the harvest process, what are the markets that are out there,” said Bryant.
This understanding will eventually be gained using seeds supplied by Botanac. Botanac President Tina Walker says the first round of seeds provided will only produce hemp fiber, grain and cannabidiol (CBD).
“We have to take baby steps; we have to learn to crawl, then learn to walk and then we can run with it,” Walker said. “And so, as long as we take it step-by-step, I think we can have a long-lasting viable crop for the state.”
The state’s industrial hemp pilot program was made possible with the passage of House Bill 2913, which was signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin in April. It’s important to note that hemp is not the same as marijuana; both are part of the cannabis family, but they have very different chemical structures and uses.