The Delaware Department of Agriculture announced March 26 that it launched the Delaware Hemp Research Pilot Program in partnership with Delaware State University’s College of Agriculture and Related Sciences.

“The research component announced today gives producers an opportunity to see if hemp is a worthwhile product for their farming operation,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “The program also allows our research institutions to determine which hemp varieties will perform well for producing fiber and CBD oil in Delaware — two products in high demand that could further diversify Delaware farming operations.”

The purpose of the Hemp Research Pilot Program, established under section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill and Delaware Senate Bill 266, is to explore an alternative to the traditional row crops grown in Delaware. The legislation authorizes growers to work with permitted institutions of higher education to gain knowledge of any aspect of hemp cultivation, harvesting, processing, marketing or transportation of hemp for agricultural, industrial or commercial purposes.

For the 2019 growing season, a grower must be approved and authorized by the Delaware Department of Agriculture, and affiliated with Delaware State University to grow hemp for research as approved by U.S. Department of Agriculture. Production of hemp for research purposes is limited to 10 acres per approved operation. Hemp may not be grown in Delaware for general commercial activity, only as part of a research program; however, growers participating in the program will be allowed to sell their crop if all research requirements are met.

Individuals interested in being part of the Delaware Hemp Research Pilot Program for 2019, should visit agriculture.delaware.gov/plant-industries/hemp-program for more detailed information and applications.

The department's long-term goal is to establish a permanent program for hemp production to provide additional opportunities for growers to diversify, along with developing products that will support other agricultural industries.