The first Treasure Valley Hemp Conference, Feb. 21-22 in Ontario, Ore., will look at challenges and lessons learned growing the relatively new crop.

But its main purpose is to help foster success for all industry participants in the region by increasing shared knowledge, said Clint Shock and Blu Fortner of sponsor Medicinal Botanical Seed. The conference will be 9 a.m.-6 p.m. each day at Four Rivers Cultural Center, 676 SW Fifth Ave., Ontario.

Hemp is potentially lucrative but challenging to grow. Advantages in the Treasure Valley include a dry, fungus-limiting climate with long days, and the availability of irrigation water.

Results last year varied as to yield and quality across the 2,000-plus acres grown in Malheur County, Shock said. Most growers now target the flower from which cannabidiol oil, associated with wellness benefits, is extracted.

“Growers had successes and failures,” the plant physiologist, agronomist and horticulturalist said. Producers posted mixed results in weed control, irrigation, plant-material choice, harvesting and marketing, for example.

“We think we can improve by having plants that mature earlier,” Shock said.

Fortner said a lack of experience and technical information are limiting factors for the crop, grown in Oregon since 2015.

“We need to share information so more growers can be successful,” Shock said.

Fortner said people from Idaho — where the interstate transport of hemp is allowed but growing the crop is not — are encouraged to attend the conference. The Idaho Legislature may address hemp during its current session.

“They can learn everything that has been done right, and what’s been done wrong” so far in Oregon, he said. “We went into this as an industry in this state with a lot less information than growers who attend the conference will have access to.”

Results from 2019 irrigation trials at the Medicinal Botanical site are to be presented at the conference. Sessions also are scheduled on field selection and preparation, seed choice, operations timing, weed and pest management, irrigation and nutrition management, rules compliance, harvest practices and post-harvest handling.

A trade show both days and a health seminar Feb. 22 are free. The $200 fee for the agricultural seminars includes educational materials, professional consultations, two meals and a social mixer event.

Information: Fortner at 208-860-6779 or info@treasurevalleyhempconference.com.

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