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UF Industrial hemp program promotes industrial partnerships to grow

By Ruth Borger

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida’s pilot research program to explore the potential to grow industrial hemp across the state is advancing, with the engagement of an inaugural private partner.

The initiative was supported and encouraged by the state but was not appropriated any funding. To move forward, the project needs sponsorships from private industry.

Green Roads Inc. has invested $1.3 million to sponsor the first phase of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research program.

The funds will support field trials in three locations: Quincy, Hague and Homestead, Florida. The field trials will focus on testing both varieties of the industrial hemp plant and cropping systems for establishing industrial hemp production in Florida.

Industrial hemp is a Cannabis sativa plant that has been cultivated for 10,000 years as a fiber and grain crop. The crop may have applications for fiber, building materials, forages and medicine.

Industrial hemp is not marijuana as it contains less than 0.3 percent per dry weight of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive chemical that, at higher levels, defines marijuana. Industrial hemp does present the potential to produce and market a compound called CBD (Cannabidiol) which may have medicinal potential for pain and other physiological ailments.

Florida-based Green Roads is a leading company in the CBD space, offering more than 50 products with pharmacist-developed formulas to improve the lives of its customers. Forbes includes Green Roads on its list of Top 10 CBD companies in the nation.

“Hemp is an emerging industry that is going to benefit people in the state of Florida in so many different ways,” said Green Roads Co-founder Arby Barroso. As national hemp and CBD industry expert sources, Green Roads team members also shared their deep and broad knowledge during the three pilot-related farmers’ workshops.

While states such as Kentucky and North Carolina have a head start, “if we do this right, the University of Florida and this pilot program will be able to quickly close that gap,” Barroso said. “That’s why our partnership with UF/IFAS is so important; it will be transformational for so many industries. Because we recognize the exponential potential, we at Green Roads have put our significant commitment, advocacy and sponsorship investment behind a resounding winner.”

Zachary Brym, assistant professor of agronomy at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida and co-director of the program, explained that additional sponsors are needed for the program to grow.

“Ideally, we would like to grow to four more locations across the state and test four additional objectives. But we need the financial support of partners to move forward,” said Brym.

UF/IFAS  researchers would also like to explore propagation trials, which would compare the success of growing plants from seed to growing plants from rooted cuttings, the impact of indoor-growing approaches, testing with varieties that exhibit high CBD values as well as explore the processing and product development of industrial  hemp.

“We are enthused about Green Roads involvement in the project and their insights as we move forward. We hope their leadership will encourage other companies to engage with us as well,” said Brym.

UF/IFAS is looking for additional sponsors. If interested, parties should contact Brym at brymz@ufl.edu to learn more about the opportunities available. Those interested in supporting the program through a donation should contact Cody Helmer, director of UF/IFAS Advancement at Chelmer@ufl.edu.

To visit the Green Roads website, go to: www.greenroadsworld.com.

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Contact: Ruth Hohl Borger, rborger@ufl.edu, 517-803-7631

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

 

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