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Produce firms intrigued by hemp as salad green

Todd Fitchette wfp-todd-fitchette-leafy-green-hemp-2.JPG
Will your leafy green salad one day include baby hemp? A University of Arizona Extension advisor is studying the crop's growth characteristics. He says produce companies are intrigued by the idea.
A research project in Arizona was certified by the USDA about midway through the winter vegetable season.

Hemp in your salad mix? One University of Arizona researcher is studying its growth patterns in Yuma.

Arizona officials recently legalized hemp as a leafy green crop, according to Robert Masson, an assistant agricultural agent with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. In his studies of hemp for its fiber and CBD qualities, Masson began looking at it as a salad ingredient.

The desert region of southwestern Arizona and southern California is known for its winter vegetables and produce. Though hemp as a leafy green is not yet legal in California, Masson said, Arizona's program was certified by the USDA about midway through the winter vegetable season. There is apparently some commercial interest in it as some companies are currently testing it.

Related: Hemp as a salad green? Maybe, says researcher

Hemp as a leafy green can be harvested a little sooner than baby leaf spinach, Masson said. It can be cut anywhere from 18 days in warm weather to about 24 days in cooler weather.

So what does it taste like?

Some have said it has a similar flavor to kale. Masson said it can be slightly minty with some bitterness. He suspects the bitter flavor is spurred by warmer temperatures during its growth. Other taste descriptors include "floral" and "fruity."

TAGS: Crops
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