GROWING INDUSTRIAL HEMP COULD BE BIG BUSINESS FOR FLORIDA FARMERS

FloridAgriculture  e-News
October 2018

Nationally, hemp is moving towards a billion-dollar enterprise and Florida could very well be a leader, due to its environment, world market access and innovative farming.

The Cannabis sativa plant is cultivated as a fiber and grain crop. It may be used for building materials, forages and medicine.

Zachary Brym, assistant professor of agronomy at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead says that initiating an industrial hemp program is important to get a first look at how hemp can be a valuable crop in Florida.

“We’re searching for the right combinations of genetics and cropping systems that can be effective for Florida,” said Brym. “We are also watching out for environmental and economic risks that might get in the way of our farmers’ success.”

The industrial hemp program is still in its infancy stage, with a lot of work to be done in regards to infrastructure, state and federal regulators and relevant partners for a commercialized crop.

Byrm said that he has already held workshops with more than 300 people interested in growing hemp commercially across the state. Currently, the crop can only be grown inside a pilot project (it is illegal to grow on a private farm or land in the state).

To find out more about growing industrial hemp or funding an industrial hemp pilot program, contact Brym at brymz@ufl.edu.