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UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project

UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project

About the UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Project

What is Industrial Hemp?

Industrial hemp is a Cannabis sativa plant with less than 0.3 percent of THC, which is the psychoactive chemical that at a higher level defines marijuana. Hemp has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years as a fiber and grain crop. Modern hemp production could be used for fiber, building materials, forages to feed cattle, food products for people, and oil extraction for CBD.

 Industrial hemp is NOT marijuana. But they are the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa. The key difference is chemical composition and use. THC is the chemical in marijuana that is credited for causing the marijuana high. Marijuana has a THC content of 0.3 percent to 20 percent, whereas hemp is defined by a threshold of THC less than 0.3 percent. In contrast, hemp has a higher CBD content.

Download/View What is Industrial Hemp? Program Update for the UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Project (PDF)

Authorization

The University of Florida has been authorized by Florida State Statute, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Rule, and UF Board of Trustees approval to execute the Industrial Hemp Pilot Project. UF is committed to operating under the limitations of the current rules and regulations. We have been granted a 2-year period to conduct the work at each of our locations. That period starts with the final approval of the FDACS planting permit. At the end of that period, we must make a report to the State of Florida with our findings and progress to establish the infrastructure necessary for hemp commercialization. The limitations of the current rules and regulations pressured UF to take a firm position to limit hemp production to UF facilities. We will also limit an investigation of hemp genetics to the variety trials without direct breeding activities. The processing and market research will be conducted without product sales.

Florida State authorization:

  • Hemp production is limited to UF facilities
  • UF/IFAS can only  conduct processing and market research without any product sales
  • Genetics through variety trials without breeding

Research Plan

UF/IFAS supports the sustained viability of industrial hemp production, processing and marketing with work focused on addressing potential agricultural, ecological, and economic challenges. We are committed to develop broad collaboration, partnership, and sponsorship for the University of Florida Industrial Hemp Pilot Project with a diverse representation of stakeholders including, but not limited to, farming, industry, university, government, and non-profit entities. Our collective goal is to develop a viable hemp industry for Florida supported by the best available information and technology.

Research objectives:

  • Identify hemp varieties suitable for planting in Florida’s various environments
  • Develop hemp management practices and cropping systems economically viable for Florida
  • Assess hemp invasion risk in Florida’s natural and built environments

Research Locations:

Production trials (variety selection, cropping system development and economics)

  • TREC, Homestead
  • AFRU, Hague
  • NFREC, Quincy

Environmental impacts and plant physiology

  • Bivens Arm, Gainesville

Research Activities:

Variety Trial

  • 3 production sites, 3-5 acres/site
  • ~20 certified varieties identified so far for planting spring 2019
  • Germination, flowering, height, biomass, yield, disease, THC, CBD
  • Planting date trial with best cultivars in year two

Hemp Management

  • 3 production sites, 3-5 acres/site
  • Field production demonstration using existing infrastructure from regionally appropriate cropping system
  • Break-even economic assessment
  • Spacing and fertilizer manipulations expected

Invasion Risk

  • Greenhouse (light, water, soil response) and field trials
  • Control measures to minimize escape
  • Modeling invasion risk across FL

Download/View UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Research Plan (PDF)

Research Team