The USDA Agricultural Research Service in Geneva, New York is creating the nation’s first hemp seed bank.
Industrial hemp has been used for fiber, oil, and medicinal uses. It is in the cannabis family but has low levels of THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.
Christine Smart, professor in the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology section of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS), said the seed bank will allow plant breeders to develop more resistant varieties. Hemp crops are already showing vulnerability to some insects and diseases.
“We want to enable farmers to grow the crop in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner,” she said, “so they can have an economic profit, and certainly having plants that are resistant to the diseases and insects that we have here is really critical.”