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Specialist hired to assist farmers with industrial hemp production

June 4, 2019
Marguerite Bolt has been appointed as Purdue Extension's first hemp production specialist. She looks

Marguerite Bolt, who recently received her master’s degree in entomology from Purdue University and also has a background in horticulture and beekeeping, has been appointed as Purdue Extension’s first hemp production specialist.

“Purdue University is committed to fully evaluating and supporting the many opportunities that industrial hemp could provide to Indiana’s farming community,” said Ron Turco, head of Purdue’s Department of Agronomy. “Marguerite Bolt has a great deal of experience in both hemp and agriculture. Her background in chemical and non-chemical techniques to reduce insect pests in specialty crops, primarily sweet and tart cherries, apples, and wine grapes is exactly the skill set we need as hemp production roles out in Indiana.”

Bolt, who grew up in Northern Michigan on a small specialty crops farm, graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in entomology. She spent three summers working as a field technician researching techniques to reduce insect pests and pathogens and was a commercial beekeeper for a year. At Purdue, her research with Assistant Professor of Entomology John Couture has focused on the influence of agronomic management practices on hemp-insect interactions.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with hemp over the last two years and I am excited to continue my work on this crop,” Bolt said. “I am committed to applying my communication skills and passion for hemp production to this position in several ways.”

Bolt’s vision for her position is to design an Extension program that provides the groundwork for prospective commercial hemp production through public meetings, field days and updates to Purdue’s hemp website. She also plans to build a social media presence for Purdue’s hemp project.

With hemp being a new crop for Indiana farmers, Bolt plans to educate interested growers on how to get started with hemp, including how to obtain a permit and seeds for the crop, which cultivars are best for the region and where to find reliable information. When hemp production becomes fully operational in 2020, Bolt plans to work with the State Chemist’s Office to provide webinars focusing on the application process to obtain a hemp production permit, which will be required for all hemp operations.

With the intricacies of raising hemp still somewhat of an unknown for most Indiana farmers, Bolt also plans to develop and release a series of webinars to address growers’ questions, along with fact sheets and eventually a hemp production guide for Indiana.

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