Hands-on experience: students growing hemp plants for science


EL PASO - New Mexico State University says students in the greenhouse management course are getting hands-on experience with hemp.

NMSU says two years ago, Geno Picchioni, plant and environmental sciences professor in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at NMSU, added a greenhouse hydroponic hemp cultivation module to his course, and students in his fall 2022 class delved into the topic. 

The university says the four-hour course focuses on the principles and practices involved in greenhouse structures and construction, site considerations, heating and cooling systems, greenhouse crop production techniques and sustainability practices. 

While hemp and marijuana come from the same cannabis plant, hemp doesn’t have the psychoactive effects associated with tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. Hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC levels, while marijuana can contain more than 15%. 

Hemp production was legalized in 2018 but it still comes with a set of challenges. NMSU says producers have to apply for a growing license through the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, and Picchioni added that taxonomy is another obstacle. 

For centuries, hemp has been used in textile production. Modern uses of hemp span from fuels to plastics, but the majority of the hemp market is based on the production of cannabidiol, also known as CBD. 

Region: New Mexico