Midwestern Hemp Database: Utilizing Grower-Cooperator Networks to Assess Variety Performance of Industrial Hemp Across the North Central Region

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2021: $39,834.00
Projected End Date: 04/04/2023
Grant Recipient: University of Illinois Extension
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Chelsea Harbach, Ph.D.
University of Illinois Extension
Phillip Alberti
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Information Products

Cultivar Check Program: 2022 Research Report (Article/Newsletter/Blog, Conference/Presentation Material, Decision-making Tool, Fact Sheet)


  • Agronomic: hemp


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: risk management
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    Industrial hemp (Cannabis spp.) can be used to produce fiber, grain, and cannabinoids. A “new” crop to North Central agriculture, best management practices and performance of industrial hemp varieties have yet to be determined. Despite regional interest, a lack of university published resources regarding industrial hemp production and laboratory analysis exist.

    To address these issues, our private-public partnership will use a multi-tiered approach to collect, analyze, and share data on variety performance and analytical methods throughout the NCR. Objectives of this program are 1). Grow the existing Midwestern Hemp Database by increasing the number of licensed hemp growers participating in the NCR; 2) Improve current data collection and visualization platforms for enhanced utility by stakeholders; 3) Establish a lab proficiency program among participating laboratories to evaluate analytical protocols across the region.

    Data generated will improve the existing tool for growers to use when making seed company and variety decisions while providing transparency regarding laboratory protocols. Outreach is designed to expand existing regional partnerships, increase hemp production knowledge, and maximize economic and environmental sustainability of their production systems. A coordinated outreach plan, including the Midwestern Hemp Database website, written reports, conference presentations, and field days will facilitate the exchange of information.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Achievable objectives of the project include: 

    1. Grow the existing Midwestern Hemp Database to include at least 500 participating growers in 2023 across the NCR; this will be done by including additional states into the program with cooperation from their respective land grant institutions.    
    2. Select experienced grower-cooperators to conduct more stringent, but participatory, on-farm  trials using high potential varieties from prior research; data to be included in the Midwestern Hemp Database as "checks" to strengthen database. 
    3. Establish a proficiency program among participating laboratories to evaluate the various analytical methods being conducted in the region and how it may impact interstate commerce. 
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.