Experts set to talk hemp issues at Four Rivers Cultural Center

Clint Shock stands in a hemp seed production field outside of Harper during a good growing season. Shock is one of the organizers of the Treasure Valley Hemp Conference this month at Four Rivers Cultural Center, Ontario. (Submitted photo)

ONTARIO – Clint Shock believes the western Treasure Valley is a good home for hemp. But there’s a learning curve that’s leaving growers less successful than they could be.

That’s why Shock and his business partners organized the first ever Treasure Valley Hemp Conference. The event is scheduled for Feb. 21-22 at Four Rivers Cultural Center. 

The conference will bring together growers and researchers for a series of presentations to help educate hemp growers about the crop. A health conference Saturday, Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. will focus on natural health and includes presentations on CBD and other topics. The Saturday event, along with a trade show both days, will be free and open to the public.

Tickets for presentations to growers cost $200. The ticket includes lunch catered by Matsy’s both days, coffee breaks and a catered reception Friday night. 

“There’s a lot of potential for building a hemp production industry, but there’s lots of pitfalls, lots of things that can go wrong. We’d like to see more people be successful and have fewer people lose money” said Shock, co-owner of Medicinal Botanical Seed and longtime director of Oregon State University’s Malheur County Experiment Station until his retirement in 2018.

There’s a general lack of knowledge on selecting seeds, choosing fields and preparing the land, he said. Growers also struggle with mastering irrigation of the plant, financial planning and harvesting.

“There’s a lot of missing information,” Shock said.

Speakers at the two-day seminar aimed at growers will include about a dozen professors, growers and researchers in hemp. 

“We’re going to try to have a complete program that will go from beginning to end so that all aspects of production are covered,” Shock said, adding that the goal is to give growers and investors a clear idea of everything that’s involved in hemp production.

Silvia Rondon, a professor of entomology at Oregon State University, will talk about pest management.

Other presenters are leading hemp researcher Jay Noller, director of Oregon State University’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, and Sunny Summers, cannabis policy coordinator for the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Shock, who has been growing hemp locally for about two years, and his business partner Blu Fortner, will also speak.

Shock said one of the serious problems local growers face is weed control.

“We’ll have discussions, we’ll have growers who were successful at weed control, and at mechanizing the crop,” Shock said.

Saturday’s health conference will also feature speakers including Meghan Romero, a registered nurse and clinically trained cannabis nurse.

Dr. Sara Rodgers, a naturopathic physician and certified acupuncturist, will give a lecture on CBD and how it works.

Shock said organizers decided to charge for entry because the conference is not backed by any university or major sponsor. He said the conference could become an annual event.

“This is our first shot,” Shock said.

For more information on the conference, including a schedule of the presentations, visit: treasurevalleyhempconference.com.

Have a news tip? Reporter Yadira Lopez: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.

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