As the hemp industry grows, producers face the risk of cultivating a crop that can become unusable—and illegal—if it develops too much of the psychoactive chemical THC. Cornell University researchers have determined that a hemp plant's propensity to 'go hot' - become too high in THC—is determined by genetics, not as a stress response to growing conditions, contrary to popular belief.
"[People thought] there was something about how the farmer grew the plant, something about the soil, the weather got too hot, his field was droughted, something went wrong with the growing conditions," said Larry Smart, horticulture professor and senior author of the study. "But our evidence from this paper is that fields go hot because of genetics, not because of environmental conditions."
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