HAZEL GREEN, Ala. (WHNT) — A lot of important work goes on at Alabama A&M’s Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station in Hazel Green.
Faculty and students spend a lot of time studying the genetics of various crops.
“Our job is to test these plants, evaluate them for all their different growing characteristics,” said Ernst Cebert, a Research Assistant Professor at Alabama A&M and the manager of the Research Station.
Cebert said even plants that are well-known by most people aren’t fully understood when it comes to genetics. “There are a lot of unknowns about cannabis,” he said.
Cebert also said genetic research on the cannabis plant is decades behind.
“The reason it’s unknown is because for almost 70 years we couldn’t even… we would be in prison right now for this plant,” Cebert said. “So we are way behind in truly getting all the scientific information about cannabis and hemp.”
Alabama A&M’s Research Station is working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to grow different variations of the plant. The data collected is then sent to the Plant Genetic Research Unit in New York state.
“We are therefore helping the USDA to replenish their stock of genetics of cannabis,” Cebert said.
The cannabis plants on-site at the Research Station have less than 0.3% THC content. Cebert said if the THC content is any higher, the plants have to be destroyed. Due to the low THC content, the plants are actually considered hemp plants.
Cebert said the main products generated from hemp are fiber and seeds.
“The fiber also is a very, very important quality fiber and in many industries right now they’re beginning to focus on the fiber to begin to see if it can become part of the commodity here as the government opens up the work with industrial hemp here in the United States,” he said.
He said fiber can be used in a variety of industries, including in the fashion industry for clothing, and the construction industry for hemp-crete. Cebert also said the seeds can be harvested for hemp hearts, a popular health food found at major grocery stores.
You can learn more about other crop research happening at the Research Station in Hazel Green by clicking here.