Government leaders and farmers are both voraciously advocating for the adoption of farming hemp. Scientist are warning them to take some caution, as they are still researching how best to grow the crop in the state. With so little working knowledge of the plant, they emphasize restraint and waiting until more testing is completed to determine the best techniques and skills integral to the success of farmers.
Hemp was initially banned because of its trace amounts of THC, but the state has come around to the crop after understanding that the crop will not get anyone high. Now they see potential in the CBD oil spreading throughout the country as well as the strong fibers.
Lawmakers pine for the $30 billion business that could be opened to growers in the state. They estimate that up to 3,000 farmers would look to grow the crop. Now scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) are looking into how best to grow the plant. Already they have found challenges that will need to be overcome for the crop to reach its full potential.
“There was a lack of information for 60-plus years to show how to grow this crop. There is no breeding information,” Jerry Fankhauser, assistant director at the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station at UF/IFAS told the press.
At the testing site in Apopka, they have discovered that the plant is sensitive to Florida conditions like temperature and wind. The plants cannot handle freezing temperatures and are fragile in the wind. A strong downdraft could destroy an entire hemp crop, let alone a hurricane.
They are also careful of pests like hemp mites that could be spread by the wind. Researchers even restrict too many people from entering the greenhouses to prevent contamination.
The plant can also rot if it receives too much rain. Farmers will have to consider how well their soil drains before growing hemp.
Scientists are still optimistic like everyone else about the value that the crop has to offer to the state, the simply advise caution until more knowledge about how to properly grow it is obtained.