Join Jerry Clark, UW -Madison Agriculture Extension Agent for Chippewa County, as he discusses the University of Wisconsin industrial hemp trials being conducted in Chippewa County, WI.
Jerry Clark, JASON FISCHBACH
JASON FISCHBACH 00:00
This is a podcast about new crops. You’re gonna love it. Join us on ‘The Cutting Edge’, a podcast in search of new crops for Wisconsin. (Music) Welcome to ‘The Cutting Edge’ a podcast in search of new crops for Wisconsin. I’m Jason Fischbach, the agriculture agent, Ashland & Bayfield. Counties, and today’s host and today we’ve got a special episode we’re actually going to head out in the field with Jerry Clark. And Jerry, can you introduce yourself?
Jerry Clark 00:47
Yeah. Jason Jerry Clark. I’m the Chippewa County Agriculture Agent here with the Division of Extension with UW Madison.
JASON FISCHBACH 00:56
Jerry obviously has been a host number of times and also a guest before I believe.
Jerry Clark 01:00
Yeah. Well, yeah, I was see one of the guests on the wildlife plots. I believe that we did, talked about soils and soil testing and that kind of stuff.
JASON FISCHBACH 01:10
Yeah. Well, Jerry, I think what we’ll do, let’s just head on out to the field and see you in action with you’re working today on I believe it’s a hemp plots, right?
Jerry Clark 01:21
JASON FISCHBACH 01:21
Or hemp research?
Jerry Clark 01:22
Yes, we plant, participate in plant hemp, industrial hemp, basically, the grain and fiber research is what we do here at the Chippewa County Farm. And we provide that it’s a partnership with the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin, and work primarily with Dr. Shelby Ellison, but this project has been a couple years going this will be our third year of evaluating varieties, as well as some of the fertilizer recommendations. So we’re doing a little fertilization study that goes along with it as well.
JASON FISCHBACH 01:59
Wait, so say it again, the county has a farm?
Jerry Clark 02:02
Yeah, we have. Yeah, Chippewa County, I think, well, probably decades or years ago, I think many counties had had farmer had farms or owned land, where they they did some farm farming projects and things like that, well, the Chippewa County still owns a small plot of land, it’s probably about 20-25 acres in size. And we probably use maybe 15 to 20 acres of that, for some research and demonstration projects. So it’s located just on the Northeast end of Chippewa Falls. So it’s pretty convenient. For me having my office here at the courthouse, downtown Chippewa Falls, it’s only about three miles away, so it’s easy to get to. And we do many, over the years, we’ve done a number of different research and demonstration projects, with primarily the Department of Agronomy at UW Madison, but also, with any other department or specialist, soils department that needs any kind of research done, applied research out in the field, get away from the Madison influence and get out into the fields around the state. So we’ve been able to use this county land. In the years that I’ve been here, it’s no longer an active County Farm, but since they still have the land, Chippewa County, Ag and Extension committee is still willing to let me provide some local research and continue to do these projects out at the county land.
JASON FISCHBACH 03:31
Oh, that’s great. Are there staff out there that help you? or equipment or machinery? How do you actually do the work?
Jerry Clark 03:38
Yeah, the staff is primarily me, unless we, unless we pull in some funding for an intern. And once in a while we’ll have some students may be from UW River Falls, or the Chippewa Valley Technical College that just want some experience. So it may even be just kind of a job shadowing type of thing. So we’ll try to recruit some students that want some in the field experience on research and maybe it’s a new like, like when industrial hemp came out, there was a lot of interest, just from industry and locally from from residents. And farmers interested in growing it and what it was all about. So it was a it was a nice opportunity to be able to use that County Land and provide that so there is no staff other than me unless I get creative and find some funding or we’re able to land a student to help for the summer. And as far as equipment, it’s primarily, there’s a neighboring farm that’s actually two farms that have helped over the years that are more than willing to come over and do the tillage for us. You know, those major things. We do partner quite often with Carl Dooley out of Buffalo County. He has a small grain drill, plot planner type of size equipment and we also borrow some equipment from the local John Deere dealership with Tractor Central out of Chippewa Falls, and they’ve been very supportive of our work, or they find it very interesting to get local data. And they really find it valuable to be partnering with the University of Wisconsin on on many of these projects.
JASON FISCHBACH 05:13
Wow, that sounds that sounds I’m jealous. I wish I had that.
Jerry Clark 05:17
Yeah, it’s it’s very, it’s very handy. And we’ve been able to generate a lot of local data from that. And, at least, and even in, maybe it’s not so much a hardcore research project as even doing demonstrations. So if a farmer’s kind of, you know, I don’t know, if I want to put this on my farm, we’re willing to sacrifice five acres or whatever, let’s see if this works. And I think that’s our job. As extension agents, Jason is to, we make the mistakes. So the farmer doesn’t, you know, that’s kind of, I think, what, what we’re all about. And if we collect data, and there’s some valuable products that come out of that, I think that’s all for the better. But I think if we can do some innovative things and say, yeah, this works or No, don’t do that. That’s part of learning, I think, for farmers is well, you make the mistake, and we’ll learn from you.
JASON FISCHBACH 06:08
Yeah, yeah. So we’re gonna, we’re gonna do the hemp trial today. But what else do you have? What are the research projects right now?
Jerry Clark 06:14
Yeah, currently we have. We’ve always done some small green research out there. And so that’s where we’ve done some research with malting, barley, spring malting barley, we even have some winter wheat, winter barley plots out there as well. Don’t have as much success with that overwintering as we’d like. But we’ve also looked at some of the winter wheat and spring wheat varieties and, and also do not just looking at varieties, but also nutrient applications, especially nitrogen management. We’ve got a big emphasis here in Chippewa County on groundwater quality and nitrates in the groundwater. So we’re always trying to evaluate nitrogen and fertility applications on our crops here. Rather than just take, you know, the the university recommendations that might have been driven more by the Arlington Research Station, which is three hours away, that this provides maybe that little bit more local touch of here’s what’s happening in Chippewa County. So the, the small grain projects have been been going on for a while, now that we’ve got a new farm partner on board, we may be getting back into maybe the alfalfa and hay crop research here in the next year or two.
JASON FISCHBACH 07:28
Jerry Clark 07:28
So those are kind of primarily what we’ve been up to.
JASON FISCHBACH 07:31
I know, Carl is out there waiting for us here. But maybe one last question, you mentioned a little bit about the kind of farms that are in your area, and this work is I assume kind of targeted to their interests and what they’re wanting to do. So just for those that aren’t in that part of the state, what kind of farming is in Chippewa County and surrounding areas?
Jerry Clark 07:49
Yeah, Chippewa County is still primarily a dairy County, but it has shifted towards more of a grain, the grain cash grain market related to corn and soybeans, and they’re always looking for an additional crop to add into that those rotations and that’s where we started the research with the malting barley projects that we’ve been doing for for several years now. I think the first year we started was 2012. And we’ve just continued every year since, you know, evaluating varieties and management practices. So it’s primarily those types of systems that we’re trying to evaluate. And then of course, when industrial hemp came along, is this a crop that we can introduce into a system? Is there you know, with the cover crops, we’ve investigated those types of rotations and different species as part of the county farm projects as well in some of our local research and demonstration, so it’s, it’s transitioned from dairy to more cash grain, but still, we’ve got about 200 dairy farms still in Chippewa County.
JASON FISCHBACH 08:57
Well, it is certainly a gorgeous day today. A good day to do a seeding trial. See the tractors all set up, the plot seeder is all set. And there’s Carl, Carl Duley, sometimes host and guest on the podcast. So these two will be working their magic and I’ll just sit back and watch for a bit.
Jerry Clark 09:19
We’re working on our hemp plot today here, trying to get our dual purpose industrial hemp plot planted. And we’re working on this research project as part of a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Madison, horticulture department. Dr. Shelby Ellison, we are researching our dual purpose. industrial hemp varieties that will hopefully give us some information on the different types of varieties and we’re also going to look at some nitrogen, fertile, excuse me, nitrogen and phosphorus applications as well in terms of fertility requirements. So we’re here in Chippewa County just trying to get this planted on some County farm land that we have. And I guess this is kind of new to me to kind of do a podcast and drive a tractor at the same time. Luckily, this tractor has cruise control. So appreciate the time that Tractor Central out of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin has provided us this nice tractor to provide our ability to get this planted, so I’m gonna have to make the turn here. So I’m going to stop for a minute. And we got to help my counterpart, raise him up on the back end of the tractor here. It’s a little three point drill that my colleague Carl Duley has, out of Buffalo County, and we plant several different plots with this tractor and drill that we use for a lot of our research projects out here in the county that are more applied research that we do. Not so much the basic research that’s done on the campus, somebody has to do the real research out here in the field. And that’s kind of what we’re doing to see what farmers and, applicators, growers out here in the in the county need. So we typically plant these, get different varieties from around the country and around the world that we plant and are able to evaluate, like I said varieties and some of the different agronomic traits or different agronomic practices related to fertility. And like some of those types of things. It’s very dry here this this time of year. We’re about five inches under normal for precipitation. So this is a sandy, sandy loam soil. It’s a sand lake soil that we plant into and it’s easy to work and very easy to, to farm as long as it rains. And of course, with dry weather we’ve had, we’re hoping that we get a little shower here this week, and this industrial hemp will continue to grow. Had some help this this month, the last few weeks here with several of our projects with Maggie Kiku helping us every once in a while as well as Cora out of Buffalo County. So I’m back at the end of my one run here so I gotta make another turn here without knocking Carl off the back of this seeder. And we’re just trying to continue to get to get a couple more rounds to make here. And then we’ll be able to move on to our fertility trial that we’re going to be doing and get that planted, seeding this at about a 30 pound per acre rate, we’ll come back through and put some nitrogen and phosphate on this quad as far as, oh probably shoot for somewhere around that I suppose around 100 pounds to the acre. We’ve done some research here in the last couple of years actually at this location that has shown, oh, some of that nitrogen application somewhere between 60 and 120 pounds per acre provides an adequate production for industrial hemp. So we’ll be doing that. And we haven’t had a lot of insect issues out here as well. So we’ve kind of tried to avoid any type of pest management things in terms of insects and for weed control. This has primarily been a tillage crop type of weed control. In the past we have used like a glyphosate product as a burndown treatment just to try to get rid of some of those perennial weeds before we till out here but we’ve had a pretty clean field out here and planted, planting this field and specifically back into what was stubble corn silage last year, so very little residue so we think we’ll have be able to have a pretty good stand here if we can get some rain. So once again trying to you know, like any other farm or any other farmer takes one part sunshine, two parts rain and three parts watered or three parts prayer in order for it to to grow anything. So that’s kind of what we’re hoping to do here is get this this planted and hopefully have a production a good productive year if we can, again get some rainfall.
JASON FISCHBACH 14:38
Okay, we’ll head back inside here and ask Jerry a few more questions. Well, I must say that went pretty well. You and Carl are good at this. You’ve done this a lot. But um, my question, it’s dry. Is this stuff going to grow?
Jerry Clark 14:55
Well, that’s our. Out here in the field. That’s where it’s, you hope. Right? I think that’s the optimism of a farmer, and I think you and I are no different when we do our research plots, is you hope you get rain and it’s a good growing season, so hopefully we can get it to grow. I think with the forecast, we should be able to pick up some rain, but a lot of it has been missing Chippewa County lately. So it is very dry. Yeah, this county farmland is a sandy loam. It’s a Scott Lake sandy loam, so it doesn’t hold water real well. So we could get a an inch or two a week and not be too wet. So I’m hoping that we can get this industrial hemp to grow after we get it planted here.
JASON FISCHBACH 15:37
Alright, well, let’s, let’s go into the details here of what what you guys just did today. So first, it was a hemp variety trial if I’ve got that right. So what what varieties are you looking at? And where are they coming from, where do farmers go to get hemp seed right now?
Jerry Clark 15:53
Yeah, the, with our project here with our, and this is a multi state. It’s called the multi state dual purpose trial. So these are varieties of hemp that are driven, have developed for the dual purpose of fiber and grain production, we are not and this this this project is not related to the essential oil, the CBD and any of the that that extraction varieties for that. In production practices for essential oils. This is specifically for seed and, and fiber. So we’re investigating 20 different varieties actually 19 of them. Dr. Ellison has put together 19 different varieties. And to round out the block, she’s found a, a wild variety, or what do they call it a feral variety that’s out there. So she wants to see how that performs amongst these others.
JASON FISCHBACH 16:51
And that the feral variety, or feral is not necessarily that feral, right? Because it may be a carryover of when hemp was grown widely in Wisconsin, earlier in the century, or is this?
Jerry Clark 17:05
Yeah. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Jason, this is most likely one that was pretty, you know, it was a, could have been a top variety 50-60-70 years ago, whenever we were a big hemp producer here in Wisconsin, but she’s been able to round up a variety that then she’s got it in this trial to see how it compares with with the others. And it’ll be very interesting to see how, how this produces once we get it. Get it planted here.
JASON FISCHBACH 17:32
Yeah, cool. All right. So go through that variety list.
Jerry Clark 17:34
Yeah. So the varieties that, a number of different seed companies involved that that are part of this. One is called Yuna seeds. That’s a seed source. And we have Altair and Anka are part of that. From that line, we’ve also got international hemp has provided a couple of different varieties, one that, and I can never pronounce this one, Białobrzeskieski, I don’t know if I say that, Białobrzeskie or something like that, that point. But if you see a name similar to what I’ve just tried to butcher, that’s from international hemp. And then we also have Penola is another one that’s out there from that company. And then hemp genetics international is another company that is out there. And that’s a pretty common one too, the last two years where we’ve worked with UW Madison graduate student, we’ve CFX-1, CFX-2, these are a couple of varieties that are are being developed, but we’ve been able to use them the last the last two years in our trials. So it’ll be interesting to see how they compare with you know, the the 18 other varieties that we have out there. And then the last one that Hemp Genetics International has is Grandi. So these are, you know, the germination have been very good on most of these and it’ll be interesting to see how they produce down the road, but we’ve got Rohrer seed. Again, that’s another one that Oh, there’s one yeah, Rohrer seed is there’s H-51 that we’ll be evaluating as well as Lesia and Leanna. Those are two varieties from the Rohrer Seed Company. And then we have Omni Trade Company has provided two different, or excuse me, one different variety, one variety called Lara. And that’s one that some others have been a been able to is quite popular. I think one thing for that variety was, it’s it’s reported, THC levels are usually below detection. So it’s very minimal, where usually you’ll pick up maybe point 2% or something like that. That’s on a, for THC and some of these varieties where Lara actually, in the past has been below the detection level. So one that’s very…
JASON FISCHBACH 20:04
So 0.3 is what’s allowable, right?
Jerry Clark 20:06
Yes, correct 0.3. And when they mean point three, you can go up to point three, nine. So even point three, nine, they don’t round up, they just kind of go back to 0.3 from from that certification standard, the saleability part of it. And then U.S Genetics has four varieties in here. These are just a number of numbered varieties, there’s no name to them, just four different varieties from U.S. Genetics. Then the last two are UniSeeds. There’s a variety called Vega, and then IND Hemp is X-59. And that’s another one that’s pretty popular that for folks that have been trying to grow dual purpose type varieties, or at least a variety for hemp and fiber, and we’ve evaluated X-59. The last two years, they’ve been part of our variety and nitrogen trial seeding rate study that we’ve done in the past.
JASON FISCHBACH 21:00
Got it. Okay, so most of those are imported, right? There are no hemp breeding programs in the US yet?
Jerry Clark 21:09
Not, that I’m aware of. That’s where I think Kentucky has started kind of going down that path. I think there’s some breeding being done through the University of Kentucky. But as far as I know, most of these are being imported and then handled through a seed source.
JASON FISCHBACH 21:28
Got it. Okay, so walk us through now the, what are you guys gonna do the rest of the year, assuming everything goes well, so it’s going to germinate when? In a week?
Jerry Clark 21:38
So we’re hoping to see this germinate here in hopefully five to seven days, we’re planning to get some forecast for rain on Sunday, take care of this drought condition. So hopefully, that happens. It’s a fast germinating species. And so that’s one that, it is a warm season crop. And that’s why we plant as late as we did. So that’s where we’re looking at. Mid June, usually as a targeted planting date. And with these warmer soils these last couple of weeks, with these 90 degree temperatures, we’re hoping this jumps out of the ground within five to seven days. So what we’ll do then is, do some stand counts as the crop gets gets taller. And then we also start to record stem diameter, plant height, at different times during the growing season. And then we’ll also look at when the male flowers come out, and when female flowers, flowering time. And so there’s a lot of data that we’re going to collect over the next couple of months here as we go through. And it’s a quick growing crop. So we’re probably going to be out there at least once a week, probably more, at least monitoring and then specific dates, we will take several of these readings.
JASON FISCHBACH 22:56
And then what about harvest time.
Jerry Clark 22:59
So harvest time, what we will plan to do is take, you usually take about a square meter, and harvest the whole plant. So we can get a total biomass and then also the seed, we’ll transfer that down to UW Madison and have that so called thrashed or combined, it gets the seed out, and then take those readings on on yield of seed as well as total biomass. We’ve also worked with Dr. Brian Luck at the UW Madison biological systems engineering department with a decorticator and so that’s where we will let some of this hemp dry in the field. They call it retting, and then we will run some of this through that decorticator, just for demonstration purposes.
Jerry Clark 23:50
But then hopefully down the road we can you know this project can morph into more of an economic development type of program where Okay, what can we do with this fiber, what kind of products we have a raw seeds, seed or seed stock or a raw stock set of material now in terms of whether we bale this up or how we package some of this, but at least have some samples that perhaps some companies that are interested in developing some of this hemp into some products and for instance, we have a number of different hemp trials going on around the state but the one that we’re connected with in Monroe County with the Ho-Chunk nation, the Ho-Chunk Nation is kind of interested in what can they do from manufacturing hemp into a product such as maybe get rid of plastic silverware, can we can we use eating utensils out of hemp, develop that where it’s biodegradable, rather than throwing it away and having it go into a landfill? So some of these innovative ideas like that is probably that next step after we get done with harvest is okay, what can we do with this and really focus, we know how to grow it now, or we’ve got the data from the agronomic side of it. Now let’s, what can we do with it from a from a product and economic development side of things?
JASON FISCHBACH 25:14
Two questions about kind of related to that. So you have to have this tested, right. And so each of those 20 varieties, does that have to be tested individually by DATCP?
Jerry Clark 25:23
Yes, yes. So that’s where a lot of the expense comes in, in these research projects is the testing. And so it’s in one field, but the fact we have 20, different varieties, each one of those has to be tested, we do not have to test each individual block. And again, as you know, Jason with research, we do a small block, replicated design, type of. So there’s four blocks of each each one of these out in our field. And so there’s 80 blocks that we need to harvest. And we do not have to test all 80 blocks, but we have to test every variety.
JASON FISCHBACH 25:58
It could be a real hurdle for farmers that wanted to do their own variety trials, right, which is what makes your trial that much more important.
Jerry Clark 26:05
Correct. Yes, the way the rules are now that each variety needs to be tested. So if you were just to plant two different varieties, you can’t just test one as a composite, you have to have two different tests.
JASON FISCHBACH 26:17
Yeah. The other question, you’ve got male and female plants in hemp? And if you’re doing dual purpose, then obviously you need pollen to make grain. But does, the male’s die way earlier than the females, right?
Jerry Clark 26:32
JASON FISCHBACH 26:32
And so do you end up with different fiber conditions laying out in the field at harvest time, where the males are way farther along in decomposition than the females?
Jerry Clark 26:41
Yes, correct. Yeah, what you’ll see is typically those male plants tend to have a slender, more slender stalk to them, or stem. And then the female plants are a little more robust from that standpoint. But yeah, you’re absolutely correct, Jason, that male plant will die as soon as pollination occurs, or the pollen is released. And then as the seed gets set with that female plant, that’s where the dual purpose comes in. Part of it. But yeah, we’ll end up with a different mix of maturity of stems at the end, because those male plants will have dried in the field a little bit longer than you would for the female plants.
JASON FISCHBACH 27:23
Got it? In the CBD world. You can buy feminized seed, but is it too expensive to do that, and dual purpose grain and fiber where you could have, let’s say, you know, a block of three rows of males and a block of three rows of females, and you’d still get the pollination? But you’d have those fiber components separate? Or is that just it’s not big of an issue to worry about that or?
Jerry Clark 27:42
Yeah, that’s, yeah, I don’t know that, that’s that big of an issue, I think maybe as we go down the path, you know, with a seed source, is it going to have, you know, is it 90%, feminized seed and 10% males out there. So I think, from that standpoint, there could be some management more from the breeding side of it, or as seed is sold, maybe that can be adjusted, but right now, I think you’re gonna, the opportunity to, on the seed of, excuse me, the dual purpose side of it, I think, is to, you’re going to get what you get, I don’t know that we can, really, unless you can identify, go out there and identify those male plants and, and pull them out or, you know, manage it that way. But right now, I think it’s a little more difficult from a dual purpose side of things to narrow it down to male or female.
JASON FISCHBACH 28:40
Okay. Alright, so you’re gonna run it, you’re gonna have data by the end of the year. What happens to that data? How do growers get access to it? Where do you publish it?
Jerry Clark 28:48
Yeah. So with, with our hemp trial, that information of most of our data is sent to to UW Madison with Dr. Shelby Ellison and her crew. They they do all this statistics and analysis and that kind of thing. And those kinds of things. The data gets published. We try to get that out before the next growing season. Typically, we’ll try to get that out over the winter months. There is the Wisconsin hemp website that the University of Wisconsin Madison Extension, I help with the website, keep keep it up to date as best I can. But that data is available. Each year we put out those results, typically available on the website, but any county Extension office would have access to that and we try to if growers are interested in that website, you can actually subscribe, so when something new is posted, you get a notification. And also on that website is if you’re interested, if you have product to either buy or sell or process. There is a directory there where you can enter your information and to have that info in the database, so if someone is searching a certain part of the state or the country for product or to sell, you can be on that database and you can set up your own network and find buyers and sellers right there on the website.
JASON FISCHBACH 30:15
Okay. Are you gonna have a field day?
Jerry Clark 30:18
Yes, we’re looking at still tentative yet. But looking at August 3, as some type of day where most of our malting barley varieties, product or research projects will be ready as well as our hemp research should be fields looking pretty good at that point and have something for people to see. So we are looking at an August 3 date, once we get more details figured out.
JASON FISCHBACH 30:43
You know, I forgot to ask, When do you estimate you’ll be harvesting these hemp plots? Will it spread out over a window given the different varieties or?
Jerry Clark 30:52
Yeah, most likely, in the past because this was driven by a grad graduate student project, that crew came up for one day since they had a three hour trip from Madison. So they did harvest it all at one time. Each of the varieties, we’ll probably take a more strategic approach and harvest it as needed going through the, as they mature, but probably looking at mid September as a start date as maybe some of these earlier varieties. So that’s what we’ll try to pay attention to as best we can. When each of these varieties hits that optimum harvest time.
JASON FISCHBACH 31:28
Got it, that’s fairly late. What happens if we get a hard freeze in early September or a hard frost? Is that a problem?
Jerry Clark 31:33
Yeah, well, that that’s probably going to set I think the from from a seed standpoint that would, yield in seed would probably be the most detrimental. I think from a fiber standpoint, most of that should have been developed, it might be a little green. So there might be a little biomass reduction. But I think for the most part, if there was an earlier harvest or an earlier frost affecting harvest, it’s going to affect the seed yield more than anything.
JASON FISCHBACH 32:02
Got it. Um, should we go back out and help Carl clean up or just let him finish up?
Jerry Clark 32:11
Carl knows what he’s doing. He’ll get it all loaded, so.
JASON FISCHBACH 32:13
Sounds good. All right. Well, congratulations on a good trial planting. And I’m anxious to see the results, maybe we’ll check in again.
Jerry Clark 32:22
Yeah, that sounds good. Come out in the field. And this summer and we’ll provide another report.
JASON FISCHBACH 32:27
Thank you very much.
Jerry Clark 32:28
Yeah. Thank you, Jason.
JASON FISCHBACH 32:30
This has been ‘The Cutting Edge’, a podcast in search of new crops for Wisconsin. (music) Brought to you by the University of Wisconsin Madison Division of Extension.