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Figuring out hemp production in Georgia

A talk with the only person legally growing hemp in Georgia.

The day after USDA announced interim rules for U.S. hemp production, Tim Coolong walked through one of only three legal hemp plots in Georgia. The plot was soon to be mowed down. He’d gotten what he needed from it.

Coolong is the University of Georgia Extension vegetable specialist and, as of this year, the state’s hemp production expert, and the only person legally growing the crop in the state now. He evaluated about two dozen varieties at three locations: Watkinsville near Athens, at Blairsville in north Georgia and in Tifton in south Georgia.

We caught up with him on his quarter-acre plot in Tifton Oct. 30 to talk about what his research discovered this year, which included some surprises, and where things may be going for the industry in Georgia now that USDA has released rules. But will the regulations and procedures be in place in time for Georgia growers in 2020?

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