Help UW hemp program locate feral hemp populations

The following is a message to the CALS/UW community from UW’s hemp research team: 

We are researchers at the University of Wisconsin studying feral hemp (aka ditch weed; Cannabis sativa) throughout the North Central Midwest, and we’re reaching out to you for help locating populations. Do you know of feral hemp growing anywhere in Wisconsin or surrounding states? If so, would you be willing to share some basic geographic and demographic information with us? Please note that not all sites will be visited, and those located on private property will not be visited (or their location information shared with others) without consent from property owners.

A brief summary of our research:

Midwest farmers struggle with decreased revenue resulting from globalization, technological advancements, and extreme weather events, and diversifying agriculture can increase economic potential and help build more sustainable agricultural systems in our region. Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is an alternative crop that can be used to diversify regional agriculture; however, a lack of institutional research over the past 70 years has left hemp farmers with relatively little foundational agronomic knowledge and poorly adapted cultivars. We are working to identify and characterize feral hemp populations in the Midwest in an effort to utilize this unique resource to help the burgeoning hemp industry. Our project objectives are to: 1) Characterize phenology and preserve seed from feral hemp populations, 2) Identify site conditions in feral hemp populations and relate those conditions to Eurasian Hemp Borer (an insect pest) resistance and higher yielding hemp cultivars, and 3) Identify sources of Eurasian Hemp Borer resistance from feral hemp that can be used to create higher yielding hemp cultivars for midwestern farmers.

How you can help:

We’re asking for help in locating populations of feral hemp to include in our study. You can share your information about feral hemp with us in one of two ways, either via iNaturalist (a free crowdsourcing nature application available through an application on your mobile device or via a web browser) or by sending your information directly to us via email or the US postal service. Detailed instructions for both options can be found in either document: UW Feral Hemp Study (Word doc) or UW Feral Hemp Study (PDF). The time commitment is very minimal.

Please share this message widely within your own networks. Your help getting the word out is greatly appreciated!

If you have questions or need assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email ( or phone (715-346-2452).

Thank you for your help!

Brian Barringer (Department of Biology, College of Letters and Science, UW Stevens Point)

Autumn Brown (Department of Horticulture, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UW Madison)

Shelby Ellison (Department of Horticulture, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UW Madison)

Russell L. Groves (Department of Entomology, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UW Madison)

Sophia Risch (Department of Biology and College of Natural Resources, UW Stevens Point)

Bryant Scharenbroch (College of Natural Resources, UW Stevens Point)