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Hemp Essentials

The current popularity of hemp oil products and products containing Cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp make it a tempting crop, but CBD and hemp oil products are not the whole story. Hemp is a versatile plant radically different than more common agricultural crops. The Hemp Essentials program from Purdue University takes a holistic approach, providing an understanding of the hemp industry beyond just hemp cultivation and production, with the goal of teaching learners how to become a better consultant or grower.

The curriculum covers the plant biology and agronomic aspects of the growth and uses of hemp plant (Cannabis sativa), including its place in history, the implications of historical and modern legal and social issues and the uses and benefits of hemp hearts, hemp seeds and other parts of the hemp plant for food, fiber, building products and health and medical applications. Learners will leave with knowledge of the history and legalities of hemp production, including how to grow and harvest hemp, as well as the many uses of hemp and the economics of its production.

Through this course students will learn the about:

  • Federal and state regulations
  • Agronomic principles
  • Farm economics (including the different hemp crops)
  • Genetics and breeding

By the end of the course the user should have sufficient knowledge to grow or consult growers on producing hemp.

Module Descriptions

This module covers the origin and movement of hemp across the globe and how this ancient plant has played a significant role in history. The legal classification of hemp and cannabis and how it has impacted and changed hemp use, and the modern applications of the plant, are explained. We also cover the current legal standing of hemp and how to understand state and federal laws.

Topics include:

  • From ancient to modern times, the history of hemp
  • Current legal status of hemp production nationally and globally

This module details the basics of hemp genetics and anatomy. This includes, terminology, plant growth stages and plant structures. We also discuss cannabinoid and terpene production and identification of different terpenes

Topics include:

  • Cannabis botany
  • Genetics
  • Basics of hemp anatomy
  • Plant compounds of interest

This module outlines how to choose field sites and production methods for hemp. It specifically details different production methods for grain, fiber and cannabinoids, which can vary greatly. We demonstrate methods of scouting hemp for pathogens, insects, and weeds, and management of these problems.

Topics include:

  • Basics of hemp production
  • Production methods for grain and fiber
  • Production of high cannabinoid hemp
  • Managing weeds, diseases and insects

This module explains the harvest methods of hemp grown for grain, fiber and cannabinoids, as well as details of current products made from hemp. We also cover the different types of processing required to achieve various products.

Topics include:

  • Harvesting, processing the plant for grain and applications
  • Harvesting, processing the plant for fiber and hurd and applications
  • Harvesting, processing the plant for cannabinoids and essential oils applications

This module discusses on-farm economics, from understanding basic principles of growing a crop to more detailed budget models. The economics of hemp varies greatly across the type of crop being grown. The specifics of the current industry in regard to the type of hemp will be outlined. The hemp market is constantly evolving; we cover the changes in the market and what the future of hemp may look like.

Topics include:

  • Understanding basic farm production economics
  • Production models, supply and demand
  • Economic evaluation of the cannabis industry
  • The developing hemp industry, what we can expect for the future
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Meet the Instructor

Marguerite Bolt

Hemp Extension Specialist
Department of Agronomy

Marguerite Bolt is the hemp Extension specialist at Purdue University in the Department of Agronomy. She received her M.S. in Entomology from Purdue University, and her B.S in Entomology from Michigan State University. Bolt’s research has focused on hemp-insect interactions and plant chemistry. She is interested in the secondary compounds that hemp produces and how they affect insect pests. She also focuses on agronomic production questions surrounding hemp. Her position is new to Indiana and she is serving as a catalyst to link growers to production facilities and the research community through online resources, field days and workshops.

Course At A Glance

Modality: Self-paced
Access: 6 months
Starts: Open enrollment

  • In-state: $500
  • Out of state: $550
  • Use code HempEssentials300 to receive $200 off

Prerequisites: None; however, a basic understanding of plants and soil, including an interest in learning about the bio-economy and modern agriculture is recommended.

More information on Purdue’s Hemp Project

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