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These young hemp plants were started in a UT AgResearch greenhouse prior to planting in the field. The field trials will help scientists assess which plants perform best under similar agronomic conditions, such as soil type and weather. Photo by G. Rowsey, courtesy UTIA.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Blühen Botanicals and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture are pleased to announce an agreement to conduct hemp production research. This collaborative new program is a four-year commitment for graduate-level research focused on agronomic practices for hemp production in Tennessee. The ultimate benefactors are the hemp farmers in Tennessee and the southeastern United States.

This innovative partnership, which will benefit both UTIA and Blühen Botanicals, includes a grant from Blühen valued at more than $350,000. The grant will help UTIA fund multiple graduate-level agronomists and other scientists whose studies will strongly support the emerging hemp industry throughout the state and region. Neal Eash, professor of soil science in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, will serve as the UTIA project leader.

UT AgResearch is currently researching hemp production and utilization, including genetics, variety trials, fertility requirements, plant populations, production model evaluations, pest management and plant compounds and materials. The work is occurring on campus and at several of the ten AgResearch and Education Centers across the state. The 2018 USDA Farm Bill legalized and authorized industrial hemp as a crop. This legislation opens the door for strategic partnerships between public and private entities. Industrial hemp differs from marijuana because of its low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) — the principal psychoactive chemical of the cannabis plant. The UTIA/Blühen Hemp Agronomic Research Program will generate much needed research data that will enhance the success of farmers choosing to grow the crop.

As both UTIA and Blühen Botanicals are based in Knoxville, Tennessee, the hometown partnership should also generate synergies for expanding the success of the hemp industry as a whole in Tennessee and the region. “This research collaboration is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for both parties and for regional hemp growers,” said Don Fowlkes, chief agronomist at Blühen Botanicals.
Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu.