The 1995 IHA/VIR Cannabis
Germplasm Preservation Project

        David Watson (IHA Chairman) and Robert C. Clarke (IHA Projects Manager) visited the Vavilov Research Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia in early May to initiate the third year of the VIR/IHA Cannabis Germplasm Preservation Project (CGPP).  A major concern before the meeting at the VIR was whether the project could continue effectively in the absence of Dr. Nikolai Lemeshev.  Dr. Lemeshev directly coordinated the reproductions within the VIR system and took personal responsibility for their completion.  His untimely death left a sudden vacuum of responsibility.  However, Dr. Sofija Kutuzova has been appointed as the acting head of the Industrial Crops section of the VIR, and she will now take responsibility for administering funds for the project.  Dr. Lyudmila Rumyantseva will continue to manage the seed collection, distribute accessions for reproduction, and supervise the staff at the four research stations.  Both Drs. Kutuzova and Rumyantseva completed their doctoral degrees under the direction of the famed Cannabis researcher Dr. G. G. Davidian, and both studied the effects of plant growth regulators on the sexual expression of Cannabis. We feel confident that the project will continue to be performed with a high level of competence.
        Faced with exponentially increasing inflation in Russia, another important concern was finance of the reproductions in 1995.  The budget for 1993 was US$ 5,000 and the budget for 1994 was US$ 10,000.  Before the St. Petersburg meeting it was not possible to predict the budget for 1995.  It now appears that the budget will not need to be quite as high as supposed.  The IHA has established that US$ 15,000 should be sufficient for Cannabis reproductions within the VIR system at the same four locations in Russia and Ukraine used in 1994.  The first US$ 10,000 of the budget was delivered in May, with the remaining US$ 5.000 due before the autumn harvest.  The VIR will attempt to reproduce about 100 accessions through their system in 1995.  In addition, the Italian Cannabis preservation project sponsored by ENEA in Rome will attempt to reproduce about 10 accessions at several locations across Italy.  The Italian reproductions will be supervised by Dr. Alexandra Doubovskaya of the VIR, who is supported by a research fellowship from ENEA and a travel grant from the IHA.  The focus of the Italian project is to reproduce the Italian hemp varieties accessioned in the VIR collection that have disappeared from commercial production.  Some reproductions of VIR accessions originating outside of Italy will also be made.  The participation of the Italian scientific community has provided opportunities for reproduction of the southern ripening accessions in the VIR collection.  The majority of the VIR collection is of southern, ripening types.   Additional locations at lower temperate latitudes, with favorable climatic conditions for the reproduction of the southern ripening types, are required.  At the current pace, completion of all of southern ripening variety reproductions will not be possible before some of the accessions die.  The VIR is currently exploring the possibility of beginning reproductions in Turkmenistan near the border with Iran and Afghanistan.  The IHA solicits suggestions of secure and isolated locations for future Cannabis reproductions, as well as contributions toward the remaining US$ 5,000 budgetary shortfall, due in August.