UF/IFAS researchers are studying industrial hemp production to see if it could be an alternative crop for Florida farmers.

The newly signed Farm Bill decriminalized industrial hemp, and UF/IFAS researchers are studying whether the plant could be successfully cultivated in Florida as an alternative crop, according to a Vegetable and Specialty Crop News article. Zachary Brym, an associate professor at the UF Tropical Research and Education Center, shared the details of The University of Florida (UF) Industrial Hemp Pilot Program at the 2018 Citrus Expo. Read the details below.

Industrial Hemp Alternative Crop Details

Brym, who is the coordinator of the industrial hemp program, shared the program’s aims at the Expo. According to the article, they were:

  1. “Identifying hemp varieties ideal for Florida
  2. Determining hemp management practices and cropping systems
  3. Looking into environmental impacts of hemp, including its risk”

Three different pilot programs—one in south Florida, central Florida, and one in northern Florida—at UF facilities to minimize the risks associated with growing the plant, which is indistinguishable from marijuana. “We take in all these risks, and in doing so, we have decided to limit hemp production to university facilities,” Brym shared.

Hemp has long been touted as a crop that can be made into many things, from paper to food to rope and more. Brym maintained that growers looking to be a part of the programs can join upcoming workshops, attend field days, and apply for the program’s advisory council. “(We want) to make sure that we have some outside decision-making happening, as well as some oversight,” Brym is quoted as saying in the article. Those growers interested should email Brym at brymz@ufl.edu.

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