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LOCATE FINGER LAKES: Industrial hemp demand is rising in New York State

You’re home. Balancing take-out in your arms as you open the door, you toss your keys on a table. The sound of your shoes echos down the hallway as you walk into your kitchen. You put the bag down. Pulling out the plates and plastic silverware, you start setting up the food containers and get ready to dish it out for your family.

What’s the common thread in this scenario? Hemp. The door, table, flooring, bag, containers, plates, even the clothes you’re wearing can be made with hemp. And your house? It can be built with materials derived from hemp, too.

Just a few years ago, this may have sounded like science fiction. What was once made by petrochemicals can soon be replaced with hemp, a sustainable, renewable material. With a massive expansion in the hemp industry and research, we could be living in a future with a reduced carbon footprint much sooner.

Hemp Industry Growth

According to a 2020 report by Grand View Research, industrial hemp, which includes seeds, fiber, and shives, is forecasted to grow to $15.26 billion by 2027. (SOURCE)

Hemp has been used for centuries for making rope and other products. Through research and innovation, hemp is a key component in making sustainable renewable products that can replace petrochemical-derived ones.

Industrial hemp is also grown to accentuate parts that are useful for industrial applications, and not consumable ones. Varieties that are bred for fiber or grain are not useful for smoking. For example, the stalk is important for fiber or rope and the seeds for grain. Focusing on those parts of the plant will take energy away from developing productive flowers, which are traditionally used in smoking.

New York State growers have been growing hemp since 2016. 2020 projections from Hemp Industry Daily predicted that the state would grow 29,777 acres outdoors, surpassing Oregon (29,604 acres), making it the third-highest outdoor hemp production in the country. (SOURCE)

The Finger Lakes has experienced its share of hemp industry news recently. In late 2019, the USDA announced plans to establish an industrial hemp seed bank in Geneva, New York in partnership with Cornell Agritech.

Cornell Hemp Research Program and Cornell Agritech hosted a virtual hemp field day in August 2020. The research program is conducting multidisciplinary research with experts from horticulture, plant science, plant breeding and genetics, controlled environment agriculture, plant pathology, entomology, and other areas.

Field days typically involve tours of plant trials. Due to COVID-19, the field day included a video feed from Geneva. With blue skies above, researchers walked people through the different field trials for CBD, seed, and fiber to show the public the latest research on different varieties they are testing.

Why Grow Hemp in New York State?

“The advantage that we have for hemp is that we typically have more than sufficient rainfall. We don’t typically need to rely on irrigation,” Larry Smart, Cornell University horticulture professor and part of the Cornell Hemp Research team, explains. In addition to our climate, “our combination of rich soils and diverse agriculture make hemp a suitable addition to our crops in New York.”

New York is projected to grow nearly 500% more hemp than in 2019 according to the Hemp Industry Daily projections. With such an immense opportunity for hemp use, we’ll see a need for other infrastructure support too.

Read more from Maureen Ballatori at

Editor’s Note:  The hemp industry is heavily regulated. New York State may submit a regulatory program to USDA for approval or they may not. Make certain you are following New York State Agriculture and Markets for the latest information on hemp regulations in New York State.

This article posted in partnership with Locate Finger Lakes, a Finger Lakes economic development initiative designed to assist and foster collaboration among the established Finger Lakes economic development efforts with targeted, proactive, marketing communications and networking.

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