Hemp Barons 0032: Dr Jared Nelson & Dr Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins

Dr Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins & Dr Jared Nelson, both SUNY (State University of New York) professors are conducting research on growing and processing hemp.  They speak to Joy Beckerman about their research and the hemp curriculum which is designed to expand the opportunities for their students.   They also speak about their break-through hemp seed and hemp fiber and grain research

Produced By MJBulls Media | Cannabis Podcast Network

HB0032 B.mp3 transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

HB0032 B.mp3 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

Dan Humiston:
Welcome to another episode of Hemp Barons, I'm Dan Humiston. And on today's show, Joy travels to the frontline of the research community, speaking with professors at leading New York state universities about their Hemp research, their recent discoveries and how they're providing opportunities for their students to help this amazing plant reach its full potential. Let's join Joy's conversation with Dr. Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins and Dr. Gerard Nelson.

Joy Beckerman:
So thank you, Dr. Gerard Nelson, who I know is Gerard. And Dr. Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins, who I know is Jennifer for joining us today on Hemp Barons. Thank you so much for being here, guys. My pleasure. Thank you, Joy.

Joy Beckerman:
I have had the pleasure of working with you folks for the last couple of years that you have each had the pleasure of working with Hemp here in the Hemp higher state, the great state of New York, for at least a few years. Now, as many folks know, New York passed industrial hemp cultivation legislation under an agricultural pilot program in 2015. And you are professors at SUNY, the State University of New York. Jared SUNY, New Paltz and Jennifer SUNY Morrisville. And really took the excitement and enthusiasm that the state and the legislature and the governor's office has for Hemp to a whole new level at SUNY. Jennifer, you're more in the agronomy, the farming cultivation aspects of that program. And you, Jared, who has some 20 years stretch experience in the fiber reinforced plastics industry, are taking sort of the reins with processing. If we could start with you, Jennifer, what could you describe as Sunnis involvement in the reemergence of this crop here in the great New York state?

Dr Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins:
Well, I think that we see the potential in this crop. And as a agricultural school, we see our job as training the agricultural producers of the future. And so it was important for us to be on the forefront of re introduction of Hemp so that our students can jump back into the field and can be the growers of the future.

Joy Beckerman:
And what classes are offered courses or even. I don't know if there are degrees yet around Hemp being offered, but can you tell the listeners what SUNY is offering in terms of those classes?

Dr Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins:
Well, there are courses where Hemp is a part of the curriculum. And there are courses where Hemp is the curriculum. So we now have a Cannabis minor and the Cannabis minor covers all aspects of the plant. Cannabis Khiva. So from industrial hemp through adult use. And we're looking at both agricultural fields scale production as low as horticultural production. So it myself and colleagues in the horticulture department that are teaching courses on growing and a little bit of business management. So there's a number of courses there because typically before their introduction to horticultural methods of production that are are happening and then next fall I'll be teaching industrial hemp growing and processing course or we'll be looking at grain and fibre production as well as some alternative ways of going for CBD and the processing facilities that are developing around the state and visiting those and seeing what what's happening. But then in just our typical courses. So in my field crop course where I teach about all different field crops there. There are units that bring in Hemp because that's really the way that I see that fit fitting into the agricultural landscape. You don't have corn farmers and you don't have Hemp farmers, you have crop farmers and Hemp is going to be one of our crops in the rotation. And so any production system needs to know how to work with this crop.

Joy Beckerman:
Absolutely. In fact, we often say, oh, if somebody calls themselves a Hemp farmer, you you might want to look into that farmer because farmers are farmers who are adding Hemp into their rotation. By and large, as opposed to just getting into farming for the Hemp craze, so to speak with, we like our farmers to know what they're doing and farmers senseand call themselves farmers, as you say. And we're going to come right back to you in terms of the really important research that you're doing with var. trials. That being sort of step one here in the United States. But let me move on for a moment to Gerard. Gerard, you. Of course, not only are you teaching about fiber and alternative fibers and naturally occurring renewable fibers at SUNY, you also have the bio industrial materials initiative and have been really involved with Sundstrom, the nation's foremost supplier for natural fibers and doing the most work, I think in the Hemp space for delivering on the promise of what Hemp can do for us in an industrial applications, building materials, bio composites, so on and so forth. Could you tell us first a little bit about the courses that you are involved with it, SUNY New Paltz, and then tell us about VMI and what you're what you're hoping for so that the message you want to teach the students there around Hemp as a fiber source.

Dr Jared Nelsen:
Yeah, you bet. Thanks, Joy. We do not have structured courses around Hemp. I am part of the engineering program here at Newports and it's a pretty new mechanical engineering. Program at that. And so I do have the luxury, however, bringing in various aspects, particularly surrounding bio composites, sustainable material alternatives, is really the key phrasing that that we tend to use and bring those alternatives into the classrooms from the educational aspects. For me, the education comes from working with students on research projects, and so that kind of starts to cross over to the DMI that she mentioned. And so the Bio Industrial Materials Institute, as it exists right now, it's it's a partnership that consists of myself. Jen is a key part of that. And then also, Ron, butanol from Union College and Dan Walsh checks from RPI. And so we are focused on really trying to bridge the gap so that we can develop key understandings of bio industrial material capabilities. And as noted a few minutes ago here in New York, that key focus is on Hemp. And so Hemp is really at the forefront of what we're working with. So it's a kind of loop back a little bit. Really, the learning capabilities and the opportunities for students to to get hands on experience working not just with Hemp, but primarily with Hemp, but also with flaks and Kynaston and other sustainable alternatives. You have research projects that are ongoing, independent studies where I have groups of students that come in and they're interested in working with these materials, perhaps pursuing a master's degree and getting getting an idea of what research is like. And I think the real and and this is not only do these students get the opportunity to learn about these materials. One of the key outcomes we always try to accomplish is to ensure that these students have the opportunity to go speak to others about the work that they're doing.

Joy Beckerman:
Excellent. It can communicate about it. Still, many more questions to ask you in. And moving back to Jennifer for a moment. Fiber and grain, fiber and grain. So as folks often hear me say on the show, thank goodness for Hemp extract. Thank goodness for CBD delivering and much needed cannabinoid to the entire race. The human race which is suffering from endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome.

Joy Beckerman:
And also folks are learning about the many uses of this versatile valuable plant through CBD. But as folks often hear me say, I've been an oil seed fibre girl for 30 years and hence CBD sort of hit us like a ton of bricks six years ago. And again, so grateful for it. And also we have these private jokes at the conferences that both Jennifer and Gerard and and I attended where we sort of gnaw holes on the inside of our cheeks going, when is someone going to talk about fibre and great.

Joy Beckerman:
When is someone going to talk about it?

Joy Beckerman:
It's so sad that as a grain, as a food, you know, the Hemp feed is the superfood that deserves a super cape. And then in terms of fibre capabilities and particularly even on the nano scale, which we didn't know about twenty five years ago, I mean, this is the world's most valuable bio cellulose. So you are doing most of your research on grain and fibre crops in terms of variety trials, is that right? Jennifer?

Dr Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins:
Yeah, and in fact, we're not really doing that many variety trials. We're really doing nutrient trials. So I have a few different varieties each year, but I'm really focusing on the ground in aggregate of all fibre, grain and dual purpose fibre and grain varieties.

Joy Beckerman:
Again, variety. Trials are the most important work right now because we need to figure out what varieties will grow here in the United States. You know, the fact that our nation's seed banks did not keep any of the Hemp germplasm at all is mind boggling when we when we understand the strategic value, the survival value of this plant. In fact, the Clinton administration had signed an executive order during Bill Clinton's time in office, which included Hemp as the strategic food source. So the fact that we didn't have any germplasm is crazy. Now, the United States, of course, taken us a little while to wake up.

Joy Beckerman:
31 other developed countries have been regulating this crop in the last several decades, whereas we continued to prohibit the cultivation up until 2014 with the 2014 farm bill allowing these agricultural pilot programs, which thank goodness SUNY in the state of New York took advantage.

Joy Beckerman:
And of course, now with the 2018 farm bill, legal as an agricultural commodity. But those thirty one other countries where there are indeed certified pedigree seeds, which are such an important part of agriculture, and we thought these global seeds certifying agency such as a Oska and the OED has had these wonderful criteria and certifying schemes in place for Hemp, but Hemp that grows well and has a beautiful nutritional profile in Canada or Manitoba. Let's get specific, northern Manitoba isn't necessarily going to grow the same in Kentucky, may not even grow the same in the state of New York. And the same thing with fiber varieties. Can you tell us a little bit about what you have learned with the grain and fiber variety trials that you were doing in the initial years of research here?

Dr Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins:
I initially said, well, let's grab some Canadian varieties because they're the closest to us than light that should be similar. So let's see how that goes. And we were really disappointed to see that they don't grow here in New York as well as there. And each year I sort of introduced a new European variety into what I'm growing. And I found that the French varieties in my research have shown that they perform the best so far in central New York, bright and growing the crop. And so I tend to think that we should be looking more at some of these European varieties than the Canadian varieties. I'm by no means the end all be all when it comes to looking at all the different varieties that are out there. I know that Cornell has done extensive variety trials or might have been a little bit more targeted and on larger acreage scales, but I think the French varieties are reasonably compatible with our climate.

Joy Beckerman:
Fascinating. Did not expect to hear that. Very, very interesting. And also interesting. As you may know, they have a legal definition of Hemp in France that's not greater than 0.2 percent THC as opposed to 0.3 percent THC that we have here. But of course, with the green and fiber varieties that are stable, THC generally not an issue at all. It's those extract varieties that we that we are trying to stabilize here that have that danger in becoming hot. And you have grown some fiber varieties as well, is that right?

Dr Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins:
Most of the varieties. So they've run a dual purpose. And that fiber only we've been looking at how to get them to grow like a fiber varieties that have like a grain variety, which is so important.

Joy Beckerman:
And and again, these dual crops or even try crops, that's really asking a lot of the plant, of course. But as I often say, if we can use every single part of this plant and there are really no byproducts of the Hemp industry or of even the Hemp agricultural industry, there are only COH products. There are valuable and rare try turbines in the root ball that are not found anywhere else in the plant that have tremendous research in history as a medicine and with various skin ailments as well. And of course, that valuable seed, the stock, the outer vast fiber that bark, the inner woody core, the herd. And then, of course, the grain. So we can use it also. Thank you for doing this important work on how can we go grow crops that allow us to harvest all of the uses of this plant because, of course, fiber matures faster than the grain.

Joy Beckerman:
Is that the challenge when we talk about dual crops is trying to get it so that you would be able to harvest around the same time, but they mature at different rates. The grain versus the fiber.

Dr Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins:
If you're growing high quality fiber, you're going to harvest a full month to month and a half earlier than if you're growing for grain. And so the dual purpose, grain and fiber, you're looking for lower quality uses or for folks who are more interested in the herd fiber and not the Outer Banks fiber, because that's what's really degrading over time. In New York State, it seems like these dual purpose crops are better for harvesting for single purpose, but that they are good for either single purpose than to harvest them for for that dual purpose. Mostly because once we get to grain harvest season, this is a really hard time to adequately read the rest of the fiber. And so there are some confounding problems and they're not saying that we can't do it, but you're not getting as high quality a product as if you're going for the fiber on its own.

Joy Beckerman:
Indeed. So you're growing for textiles. More than likely. That's going to be a single purpose crop and it's going to be very specific cultivar for that beautiful basket fiber, which will be made into textiles as opposed to animal bedding or filler for construction materials.

Dr Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins:
Exactly. It's even Hemp create this because when you're going for grain, you want a thicker stock. And so each stock is going to have more hurt in it than vast fiber. So our dual purpose crops are better suited for things like Hemp Creek.

And that's exactly what I mean by Sillars for a building materials which have Hemp creative quite being a mold, rock fire and pest resistant construction infill. Don't get me started on Hemp tree down.

Joy Beckerman:
My God will have to be shown. Jennifer, you know that's my favorite product of all the many thousands.

Dan Humiston:
I want to take a quick break to thank you for listening to today's show and to invite you to check out all of our other Cannabis podcast as the industry's number one Cannabis podcast network. We are constantly adding new shows, so go to MJBulls.com to see our new shows and to become part of the Cannabis podcast network.

Joy Beckerman:
I'm very moving over to you.

Joy Beckerman:
What is the most exciting research that has happened? To the extent you're even able to tell us about it, of course.

Joy Beckerman:
Exciting any third that's happening right now at SUNY. And then maybe if you're allowed to tell us a research project that you may have going on even outside of SUNY. In another endeavor,.

Dr Jared Nelsen:
I work a lot with Jen and I have a bunch of fiber and that she has supplied me from her nutrient trials from last year. Predominantly we're working through that. Right now, we're also working through Larry Smart's group at Cornell, doing a lot of variety trials. And so we have a huge number of samples from them that we're trying to to start working through as well. And looking forward to getting similar samples from from both groups from this year's crops.

Dr Jared Nelsen:
So the exciting thing to me is let's use the dual purpose as an example that we were just talking about. The plant grows and basically the vast fiber for lack of a better term. And I'm an engineer, not an agronomists. Assad genocide butcher. This basically fiber portion matures at a much earlier timeframe than the seed head does. And in fact, as the seed head matures, what I understand from talking again and from the literature is that the lignin concentration in the stock actually changes, thereby changing the constituency of the fibers. In other words, when we look at fiber, we want a nice, soft, supple fiber. Eventually, perhaps I shouldn't say that's always the case, but that's that's the thought process of what we want. Adding more lignin is going to make this fiber stiffer, more bristly, which may have particularly good uses as well. But thinking toward that textile example, as you mentioned, jois, that's probably not ideal. So I think to me the real exciting bit in all of this is that my research working as part of the BMI, we're really focused on understanding where are there opportunities for both types of fiber so that we can say, OK, if we want to grow for this highly specific textile, we know that we need to plant this variety and then we need to try to control it in these particular ways. And then we're going to process it in this tight date range. We're going to specify how it's going to be. Read it, whether it's field redit or post-process out of the fields and all the way through the processing until we get to the point where we have the fiber that we want.

Dr Jared Nelsen:
And the same may be true for fiber that is coming off of a plant that has been harvested for seed. There I think are significant opportunities aside from the herd for Hemp create. I think there are opportunities for those fast fibers as well. So that leads to really what the BMI is focused on, which is identifying what are all these variables we're looking at. What's the impact of those variations such as plant variety, such as where it's grown, such as when it's harvested, such as when it's red at all of those are huge questions, by the way, understanding what impacts each of those have on the end fiber product, thereby allowing us to say fiber grown and processed in this particular way is good for this particular industry that will, I think, enable more ubiquitous utilization of plant fibers of this type. Does are key missing data right now that I think a lot of people are looking for, particularly, again, those end users that are interested in using natural fibers such as Hemp in and use products in a technical fashion. By technical fashion, I mean in engineered products such as something that might be structural or semi structural as opposed to I have a Hemp toothbrush that I picked up at Sun Strand one day. That's not a real engineered use, in my opinion. It's a great use. It's very interesting. We want to see more technical uses like Hemp create textiles, non woven things along those lines.

Joy Beckerman:
Yes, a car parts, plane parts, this type of thing, interior and exterior, all of those types of things. And I think to forward what you're saying, we don't yet have sort of grade's as they would do in other industries, a grading system or various Hemp fibers. And that needs to be developed. Isn't that correct?

Dr Jared Nelsen:
Exactly. So we see a significant amount of variation in the mechanical properties of glass fibers that we test. It could be the case that there's just more high quality fiber in that than if we wait for the seed had to mature. There's still may be some good high quality fiber. We just don't know how to identify that fiber yet either. Even more so, sort it out so that we can say, OK. Within a particular stock, we want to take these particular fibers and put them over here for textiles and we want to take these other fibers. We want to put them over here for non-vote. And the other ones we want to take over here and we're going to put them into animal bedding, things like that.

Joy Beckerman:
Well, I know that some of the greatest minds all over the world are on this. So I bet that with this synergy and the enthusiasm behind the promise of this plant, that things are going to come together here relatively quickly in the next five years. Also, I think we're discovering and there's been some preliminary research on what happened to the plant in terms of increasing nutritional profile and value, increasing biomass, increasing surface area and tensile strength of the cellulose. If we increase the THC limit, which of course this point three Delta 9 THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid component in the cannabis plant, that's what differentiates Hemp from other forms of cannabis in the legal world is it does not contain greater than point 3 percent THC. And that was Dr. Ernest Small from the University of Manitoba who sadly was charged with trying to come up with that number for Health Canada when they began to regulate the crop in 1998 through Canada's Office of Controlled Substances of Health Canada. So in even to this day, the Hemp crop is not regulated under sort of a ministry of agriculture. It's still regulated under Health Canada's Office of Controlled Substances. I work a lot with various federal legislators and with state legislators across the United States. And there's lots of talk about trying to see if we can't increase this arbitrary point three, which there is basically no chance of intoxication in a finished product to 1 percent. And see what that does for all of this research and for increasing the varied properties of Hemp that make it such a special and unique and valuable crop. And I want to just close by asking each of you and Jennifer, I'd like to start with you. How do you feel about the promise of Hemp and your excitement for it for ill good and an important lesson that you want to make sure that the public knows if they're wanting to get into Hemp farming?

Dr Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins:
Oh my god, that's a lot. I have no desire to chase the crop that I focus on because we've been studying corn and wheat and soy and oats for so many decades that eat. Now people are struggling to come up with new questions to ask. You know, at least 50 questions every day, about half the battle. But what if we do this? What if you do that? Yes, it's incredibly exciting. I think for your second question, I would circle back to my original statement, which is that the thing is that Hemp Farmer Hemp is an amazing crop. It has phenomenal potential to add in to our agricultural sweep of crops that we grow in New York state. It can't be just a Hemp farmer. You have to be prepared to be a farmer. And this is one of the crops that you grow. You have to be a jack of all trades to be a farmer and an amazingly optimistic person as this past few harvests with lots and lots of rain.

Joy Beckerman:
Well, I'll tell you, the heroes are the farmers, that's for sure, with all of the risks, particularly with no crop insurance available. All of these years. Exactly. Of course, starting next year, it's not the whole plant, but it's come in come in a little bit. Thank you for that.

And Jerry. Same with you. Your level of enthusiasm for the promise of this plant. And then a lesson you would want the public to know what they're thinking about getting into processing distinction.

Dr Jared Nelsen:
I guess probably 10 e-mails a day that talk about processing. And I read a sentence or two further. And I realize they don't mean that the type of processing that I mean, when I talk about processing. It's a tough market. The task that I mentioned that the DMI is undertaking is incredibly difficult. There is a lot of information there to processing business as anyone who is in it can tell you is not easy. So if we take a quick second and run through it. Talking significant equipment for the caucasion. So this is assuming that you're buying redit fiber, right? And actually, even before the court fication, you probably need something along the lines of a bale opener to get that side or so then you have to caucasion in separation and then further separation and refinement. There are significant capital investments required even for some of the most basic pieces of equipment to do these things that are available. The flip side of that is and this is the detective chosen to take and helps me remain optimistic and excited about this is I think that most of the people that I know, myself included, look at this as an opportunity. I think Jen encapsulated that well in her answer a minute ago. I think the same thing is true on my side. There are all these questions that need answering. But we have the opportunity to go in and address and figure out unique answers. And the real winner in this is. Sustainability farmers are able to have a profitable crop. We have a positive social impacts and the biggest one that most people focus on was sustainability. The green alternate alternatives that these these fiber options can bring, that's really exciting to me.

Joy Beckerman:
So we can make better, stronger, longer lasting, more superior, early performing, if that's even a word product from a renewable, sustainable crop. So exciting. And it's just an honor and a pleasure to be experiencing this revolution with you right here in the great state of New York. Jared and Jennifer from SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Morrisville. Thank you so much for being with us today and for everything you do for this crop.

Dr Jared Nelsen:
Thank you for having me. Thank you. Joe, I appreciate being here. Always appreciate talking next to Jenny. Makes me sound smart.

Joy Beckerman:
You're both wonderful. You're both wonderful. Can't wait to have you on again. Thanks. The guy.

Quickly and accurately convert audio to text with Sonix.

Sonix uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence to convert your mp3 files to text.

Thousands of researchers and podcasters use Sonix to automatically transcribe their audio files (*.mp3). Easily convert your mp3 file to text or docx to make your media content more accessible to listeners.

Sonix is the best online audio transcription software in 2019—it's fast, easy, and affordable.

If you are looking for a great way to convert your mp3 to text, try Sonix today.

Cannabis Podcast Network