Hemp production in Alabama had its challenges in 2020. From ant problems to plant diseases, hemp producers struggled to produce a crop.
Kassie Conner, an Alabama Extension specialist II, discussed some of the obstacles farmers faced last year during an Alabama Extension Commercial Horticulture Facebook Live Q&A session on Friday.
“I think probably the main disease we saw was southern blight, which is a soil-borne fungal disease. It really likes hemp, but it’s also real common in tomatoes,” Conner said. “I think a lot of growers switched over from growing tomatoes to growing hemp. The disease just switched over with them.”
Insect pressure was also widespread throughout Alabama’s hemp crops. Some led to issues with additional diseases.
“There was a lot of problems with fire ant damage. They stripped bark off the base of the plant to tunnel holes through the plants,” Conner said. “There was also a lot of corn earworms that feed on flower buds. After you get a lot of insect feeding damage on the buds, you get a secondary fusarium infection that comes in and causes bud rot. It was so rainy at the end of last season that we just saw bud rot everywhere.
“It’s hard to be hemp in the south.”