Researchers at Kansas State University are helping hemp farmers by testing samples of their crops to see if they meet the required THC levels to be considered hemp and to help better understand how the new crop grows.
Hemp growers in Kansas can send samples of their crops to the Postharvest Physiology Lab at K-State Olathe to test them for five hemp-based cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. The lab is the only state-licensed testing facility in Kansas aside from the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA). Each hemp farmer needs to have their crop officially tested by the Department of Agriculture, but the lab can help farmers better understand where they’re at with their crop.
“It’s a new crop, so it’s a learning experience for everyone,” said Heather Lansdowne, director of communications for the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
The K-State lab uses the same testing process as the KDA and the lab received a State Educational Institution License from the department as a part of 2019 Kansas Industrial Hemp Research Program. Lab workers dry the plant, remove seeds and stems, grind it, add a liquid mixture and then put it in a machine to test. Results are confidential and sent back to farmers within three to five days.
“We’ve been working closely with the KDA chemists to make sure that our testing methods are identical so that it’s a beneficial service to growers,” said Eleni Pliakoni, director of the Postharvest Physiology Lab. “We help growers check their crop’s THC levels before the regulatory testing is done by the KDA. We also are providing growers with their crop’s CBD levels, which will help them better market their product.”
Changes to the 2018 Farm Bill allowed for farmers to grow hemp as an industrial crop, and earlier this year, the governor of Kansas signed a hemp bill that established a commercial hemp program in the state. This year, farmers are only permitted to grow hemp for research purposes.