The 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (known as the 2018 Farm Bill) created a pathway for the legal production of industrial hemp. UF/IFAS researchers soon began studying field production of hemp fiber and seed production (for human and animal consumption) at three Florida locations: North Florida Research and Education Center (Quincy), Bivens Arm Research Site (Gainesville), and the Tropical Research and Education Center (Homestead).
What is Industrial Hemp?
Industrial hemp plants grown in a controlled greenhouse environment | UF/IFAS video still
Industrial hemp is a Cannabis sativa plant with less than 0.3 percent of delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive chemical that at a higher level defines marijuana. Hemp has been cultivated for as many as 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 essential 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 to 20 percent, whereas hemp is defined by a threshold of THC less than 0.3 percent. In contrast, hemp may have a higher CBD content.
The University of Florida (UF) was authorized by Florida State Statute, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Rule, and secured UF Board of Trustees approval to execute the 2019-2021 Hemp Pilot Project. UF (and IFAS) were committed to operating under the limitations of the current rules and regulations. UF/IFAS was granted a two-year period to conduct the work at all permitted research locations. That period started at the first research locations in April 2019 with the final approval of planting permits from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service (FDACS) for those locations. At the end of the two-year period, UF/IFAS created a statutorily required report that was presented to the Governor and other state legislative leaders in Florida. This report included research findings and educational material for Florida growers.
2019-2021 Research Plan
UF/IFAS supported intial research efforts aimed at viable hemp production, processing and marketing with work focused on addressing potential agricultural, ecological, and economic challenges. UF/IFAS was committed to developing broad collaboration, partnership, and sponsorship for the 2019-2021 UF/IFAS 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 was to assist in the development of a hemp industry for Florida supported by the best available information and technology.
- View the UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Research Plan and additional objectives
- View a map of the Industrial Hemp Research Sites
- View the Industrial Hemp Research Team Faculty
2019-2021 Pilot Project 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
Additional 2019-2021 Research Activities
Nutrient Management and Water Quality
- Assess nutrient application rates for multiple hemp types and Florida environments
- Evaluate crop production and water quality impacts from nutrient application
- Project funded by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Indoor Production and Propagation
- Determination of propagation methods (i.e., cuttings and tissue culture)
- Controlled environment systems (i.e., media, lighting, nutrition)
- Basic physiology (i.e., response to daylength)
- Project was funded by UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Endowment
Pest and Diseases
- Field and greenhouse monitoring and diagnostic
- Experimental management options
- Nematode host status and susceptibility