PALMER, AK (KTUU)- A small cluster of hemp plants are all that remain in a greenhouse that once held over 1000 samples of various strains: This is the new starting point for Alaska's industrial hemp pilot program.
The Alaska Plant Material Center in Palmer is currently working to restore it's diminished stock of hemp. The original crop was destroyed when budget cuts resulted in the loss of the employees needed to care for the plants.
Rob Carter manages the PMC. He says there's enough left to save the hemp program the trouble of having to restart from scratch.
"We made the decision to cut it down to a few samples of the varieties we had, just in case. Glad we did," Carter told KTUU. "This is an impressive stock that's not been well cared for. We're standing here next to plants that are over 9 feet tall and I don't think I've been in here to touch them in seven days."
The PMC is currently using an in-vitro process to replenish its hemp samples. This allows quick turnaround, turning one plant into five over a 14 to 21-day cycles. It's good news for farmers who are interested in being involved in the test program, which could launch as early as next year. A draft copy of the rules for the pilot were released months ago. Now that the public comment period is over, Carter is optimistic that the agencies involved might reach a final set of regulations by the end of this year.
"I'd love to see it done by them," he said. "We could see our first applications as early as next January and maybe even some indoor crops that spring."
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