In the race to develop a successful, viable hemp industry, Colorado is now home to the first U.S.-bred hemp seed to qualify as Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) certified seed. "This is an exciting time for the industrial hemp industry. It seems breeding, technology, and information advances are happening at the speed of light; this is a giant step for American hemp farmers," said Duane Sinning, CDA's Division of Plant Industry Assistant Director.
New West Genetics, Ft. Collins, Colo., submitted a variety trademarked as NWG-ELITE. The variety is the first U.S.-bred hemp seed to pass the Colorado Department of Agriculture's hemp trials and qualify as AOSCA certified seed. According to their website, "NWG uses genomic technology and data-driven discovery to create large-scale, harvestable cannabis, greatly enhancing the sustainability of the industry and paving the way for large-scale product development.... The large scale production of cannabis that we enable serves our mission of improving patient access and affordability and increasing options for farmers looking for rotational crops that offer a better return than other commodity crops."
In 2016, the Colorado Department of Agriculture launched the first certified hemp seed program in the country to grow hemp across Colorado's diverse growing conditions to discover which seeds would grow crops that fall within industrial hemp THC requirements. CDA Approved Certified Seed provides growers with the confidence they expect in seed quality. The program tests industrial hemp requirements set by Amendment 64 in the Colorado constitution, which closely mirrors the federal Farm Bill. Colorado state law requires that industrial hemp tests at or below 0.3% THC concentration on a dry weight basis. All varieties tested were accepted by the Colorado Seed Growers Association's Variety Review Board and these varieties passed the THC validation trials.
Once approved through validation trials across Colorado's diverse growing environments, CDA approves the variety to be produced by the Colorado Seed Growers Association according to AOSCA standards and receive the CDA Approved Certified Seed label.
Seed varieties are grown and tested in the northeast, Arkansas Valley, Front Range, the San Luis Valley and on the western slope. These five locations with distinct differences in daytime and nighttime temperatures, in altitude, length of growing season, and soil types, provide the CDA with a broad representation of Colorado's growing conditions.
A list of all CDA-Approved varieties is below. For seed availability, contact the seed companies listed. As per the DEA it is still federally illegal for hemp seed to cross state lines. In order for growers to document the planting of CDA-Approved seed, they must provide purchase order receipts and/or bag tags for CDA verification. The CDA Approved Certified seed program requires that all individual seed packages be tagged with both CDA tags and AOSCA or OECD official tags.
For more information, visit CDA's industrial hemp program webpage.