Hemp has been around for thousands of years. Yet, we’re just starting to scratch the surface on how to best cultivate the ancient crop for industrial purposes. Interest is soaring about the potential of industrial hemp, especially for growers and other industry stakeholders since the 2018 Farm Bill put an end to the crop’s prohibition.
Last year, the UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project took off with support from the school’s board of trustees. A year later, researchers are now tending to variety trials, conducting a cropping system and economic assessment, and monitoring pest management risks. According to Zachary Brym, the UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Program Coordinator, industrial hemp is currently being grown at eight permitted UF/IFAS locations. Cultivation includes greenhouse propagation as well as outdoor planting in secure facilities.
Recently, Brym and colleagues hosted an industrial hemp workshop at the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade to give growers and other attendees and update. The meeting was very well attended.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) hosted similar workshops this month at multiple locations across the state.