The United States Department of Agriculture Issues Freshly Published Hemp Handbook in Concurrent Efforts to Reinstate a Seed Repository After Prohibition

The United States Department of Agriculture Issues Freshly Published Hemp Handbook in Concurrent Efforts to Reinstate a Seed Repository After Prohibition

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making strides in rebuilding a government seed bank for hemp, which was destroyed during prohibition. As part of this effort, the agency has released an updated version of its Hemp Descriptor and Phenotyping Handbook. This comprehensive document provides detailed information on the various forms and qualities of hemp, allowing researchers to better differentiate between hemp varieties and select them for specific applications.

The USDA’s genetic repository, managed by the Plant Genetics Resources Unit (PGRU) in Geneva, New York, collects and exchanges hemp samples from domestic and foreign sources. The newly released Hemp Descriptor and Phenotyping Handbook will play a crucial role in cataloging the characteristics of these samples, with the information being made available through the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).

The handbook covers a wide range of traits and characteristics of hemp plants. It includes information on morphology, yield, cannabinoid content, oil production, seed viability, fiber quality, pathogen resistance, and more. By providing robust and reliable data on these phenotypes, researchers and breeders can gain a deeper understanding of hemp genetic diversity and make informed decisions about breeding programs.

In addition to providing detailed information on various traits, the USDA has expanded sections on pathology, seed evaluation, and fiber quality in the latest version of the handbook. The agency has also added new protocols for feral collection, seed threshing, tissue cultures, pollen gathering, and other procedures. These updates reflect the USDA’s commitment to staying up-to-date with emerging methodologies in hemp research.

One notable addition to the USDA’s resources is a video tutorial on how to build and use a backpack vacuum for collecting cannabis pollen. This innovative tool can collect up to 10 grams of pollen in less than a minute. Such resources will contribute to the preservation and distribution of high-quality germplasm for researchers and breeders within the hemp community.

Alongside efforts to rebuild the seed bank and provide resources for hemp research, the USDA has been actively promoting the hemp market. The agency has partnered with state departments of agriculture, hosted educational events for farmers, and offered financial and technical assistance to hemp businesses. By recognizing hemp as a specialty crop and increasing representation for the hemp industry on federal trade advisory panels, the USDA underscores the economic potential and value of cannabis.

Despite these positive developments, the hemp industry faced significant economic challenges in recent years. The value of the crop dropped due to a lack of FDA regulations on marketing hemp derivative products like CBD oil. However, bipartisan lawmakers have introduced bills aimed at reducing regulatory burdens for hemp farmers, offering hope for the future of the industry.

Overall, the USDA’s release of the updated Hemp Descriptor and Phenotyping Handbook marks an important step in rebuilding a post-prohibition seed bank for hemp. By providing detailed information on various hemp varieties and traits, researchers and breeders will be better equipped to select and develop plants suited for different applications. With continued support from the USDA and advancements in regulations, the hemp industry has the potential to thrive and contribute to a bio-based economy.

Dr. Paul Miller, MD

Dr. Miller is committed to finding new and innovative ways to help his patients manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. He has a particular interest in the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis and is passionate about educating both his colleagues and patients on its safe and effective use. He is also committed to continuing his education and staying up-to-date on the latest advances in neurology and cannabis research.

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