Hemp a Crowd Pleaser at Ag Progress Days
On August 26, 2017
ROCK SPRINGS, Pa. — Terry Skelton, a beef farmer in Erie County, was curious about adding hemp to his grazing rotation.
“I would like to rotational graze the hemp, to see if that would be a way to put fat on my animals — a feasible way to build fat on my animals,” he said.
There is quite a bit farmers don’t know about growing hemp, mostly because it’s been illegal to grow for the past 80 years and the growing know-how has been lost to the ages.
That could explain why the Ag Progress Days bus tour to the industrial hemp trials was packed with curious farmers.
They all wanted to know if this new state hemp initiative will bear fruit, or in this case, seeds and fiber.
Greg Roth, a professor of agronomy at Penn State, stood in the sun with his back to several acres of industrial hemp.
The trials at Penn State are focusing on seed production, growing varieties that are much shorter than the varieties used for fiber.
Roth passed around a stalk of hemp that was bursting with seeds that can be pressed into oil or crushed into meal.
Most farmers were curious about the market — how is anybody going to make money growing this crop?