Green Roads and UF Partner to Research Industrial Hemp in Florida

Green Roads is proud to announce it is bringing the benefits of industrial hemp research to fruition through a pilot program in partnership with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

Although the program found support and encouragement from lawmakers in Tallahassee, no state funding was appropriated for this initiative. Instead, public/private partnerships are the primary means of facilitating hemp research under the Farm Bill of 2014. This law, which removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act definition of marijuana, creates a legal framework in which industrial hemp market research can be conducted under the auspices of a state university or department of agriculture.

This is why Green Roads has invested $1.3 million into the first phase of research funding the facilities, materials, and human resources needed to begin cultivating and conducting research on industrial hemp cultivars in three locations throughout the state. The study, which will take place in Quincy, Hague, and Homestead, will focus primarily on two areas of hemp science.

First, the research will consider different varieties of hemp, and the characteristics that make a given strain useful for various industrial applications, from construction materials to medicine.

Second, the research will consider the cropping systems that most effectively produce different varieties of the plant, to establish commercial best practices for cultivating hemp plants with specific characteristics for specific end-uses.

Industrial hemp refers to all varieties of Cannabis sativa which contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. This means that hemp, and its derivatives, are incapable of producing the high synonymous with marijuana. Nonetheless, hemp plants offer their unique array of benefits, owing to the exceptionally strong stalk of the plant, and the nutritional value within its seeds.

“Hemp is an emerging industry that is going to benefit the people of Florida in so many ways,” according to Green Roads Co-founder Arby Barroso. “We recognize the potential, and we at Green Roads have put our commitment, advocacy, and sponsorship behind a resounding winner.”

Zachary Brym, assistant professor of agronomy at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, and co-director of the hemp research pilot program is also enthusiastic about the future of hemp in Florida. According to Brym, UF/IFAS would like to add “four more locations across the state and test four additional objectives. But we need the financial support of partners to move forward.”

In addition to strain differences and cultivation practices, researchers also want to explore hemp propagation which refers to the different ways that hemp plants can be grown. For example, planting a seed and letting it grow to maturity or planting a seed and letting it sprout and then transplanting that seedling into a new environment where the remainder of its maturation will take place.

Other areas of research will include the benefits of hydroponic and indoor growing techniques, hemp cultivars that exhibit high levels of CBD, and cultivars that exhibit properties beneficial to other industrial applications like paper and biofuels production. This research will be done with the ultimate goal of enabling the creation of commercially viable hemp-derived products with applications in many industries, not just hemp-derived CBD.

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

As part of its mission, UF/IFAS strives 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.” Since its inception, Green Roads has been dedicated to improving quality of life for all people, and together with UF/IFAS, we are well on our way to creating a better future for Florida through hemp.