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UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project

UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project

The 2018 Farm Bill creates a pathway for the legal production of industrial hemp. UF/IFAS researchers are also studying field production of fiber and seed production (for human and animal consumption) at three Florida locations: North Florida Research and Education Center (Quincy), Gainesville, and the Tropical Research Education Center (Homestead).


What is Industrial Hemp?

industrial hemp plants in greenhouse

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.

Authorization

The University of Florida (UF) 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. UF/IFAS has been granted a two-year period to conduct the work at each location. 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 must make a report to the State of Florida with research findings. In the meantime, UF/IFAS is working to establish the infrastructure necessary and to get information available to the industry in anticipation of hemp commercialization.


Research Plan

UF/IFAS supports the research aimed at viable hemp production, processing and marketing with work focused on addressing potential agricultural, ecological, and economic challenges. UF/IFAS is committed to developing 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 hemp industry for Florida supported by the best available information and technology.

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 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 funded by UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Endowment

Pest and Diseases

  • Field and greenhouse monitoring and diagnostic
  • Experimental management options
  • Nematode host status and susceptibility