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Dakota College Campus Conducts Hemp Trials

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Dakota College at Bottineau was awarded $37,553 from the North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission. This grant’s purpose is to “provide necessary assistance to the research and marketing needs of the state by developing new uses for agricultural products, byproducts, and by seeking more efficient systems for processing and marketing agricultural products and byproducts…” This grant ran from June 2020 until November 2021. During this time, hemp trials were conducted in two different environments; Bottineau, ND and Absaraka, ND that include high tunnels and open fields. There are more than 25,000 uses for hemp and will have an increase in demand for producers to keep up with consumer demand. The research will be used to provide growers with information about production in different growing conditions and compare viability of clones as a propagation method.

Twelve CBD cultivars were used in the trials including Grizzlies, Cherry Wine 2, UPMxASP02, ASB, UMP, Meritage, Abacus, Space Force, Mauna Kea 3, Harley, and Cherry Wine. These cultivars were propagated through clones and some were propagated by seed to compare viability between the two techniques. Characteristics related to growth and production were monitored and measured during the growing cycle. Plant nutrient management included soils testing, application of nutrients, cannabinoid testing to record CBD:THC ratio and all seedlings and clones were inspected for uniformity and overall health. Some complications did occur during the trials, however. The Bottineau location experienced a damaging frost on September 9, 2020 which stopped CBD production in all cultivars, which were in the early stages of flowering. The trial was run again in 2021 and the potency testing was performed by Adams Independent Testing which is based out of Fargo, ND. Some cultivars were also unavailable in 2021 as there is a lot of turnover with seed suppliers in the hemp industry. One provider had gone out of business and the second provider no longer had the same cultivars.

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The research found out that the flowering dates were significantly different in the two locations. In Absaraka, ND the flowering date occurred on August 4th while the flowering date for Bottineau, ND was September 6th. Several cultivars proved to have higher CBD percentages and the THC levels were approximately 0.3 %. The top three cultivars were Space Force, Cherry Wine 2 and Meritage which all had a CBD concentration above 9%. It was also found that biomass is a key factor as it has the highest cannabinoid concentration. Other conclusions from the hemp trials showed that cultivars performed differently between the two geographical locations. Cultivars propagated from seed grew taller and there was more variability. The highest CBD levels were found 5-6 weeks after flowering was initiated. According to Keith Knudson, who was the project director of this grant stated, “the industrial hemp industry shows instability of seed providers as more providers are leaving as profitability declines. A few seed producers are investing in genetics to reduce variabilities in production of plant material and potency.”
DCB will run trials again in 2022 to continue identifying stable cultivars. “High performance” cultivars have been cloned and selected from these trials to be used again in the trials next year.