By Tory Moore, University of Florida/IFAS
UF/IFAS, in partnership with Roseville Farms, has established a program that provides a science-based evaluation of industrial hemp varieties. As a crop new to Florida, all industrial hemp material must be approved prior to production and sale within the state per state law and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) rules.
The approval program is led by Brian Pearson, assistant professor of crop management at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center.
“The ultimate goal with this program is for growers to have knowledge of that plant and its performance when they purchase it,” Pearson said. “What’s unique about the UF/IFAS approval program is that we are growing all of these plants indoors under very closely controlled environmental conditions. We hope growers feel confident in the high standards and rigor that UF/IFAS puts into this program and know that they can rely on our results and efficacy when approving these varieties, or cultivars as they are called per state statute and FDACS rules.”
Growers interested in having their hemp varieties or cultivars approved by UF/IFAS will visit the Clonally Propagated Hemp Cultivar Approval Program website at https://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/research/HempApproval/ to access and submit an online application.
Once approved to participate in the UF/IFAS program, producers will submit rootless cuttings and pay a one-time fee that covers the THC testing portion of the approval process. The cuttings are grown under a controlled environment at Roseville Farms for 12 weeks and evaluated for THC levels to ensure the submitted cultivars test at or below the 0.3% total THC levels required by state statute.
Cultivars that meet this requirement will be approved by UF/IFAS and the approval will be sent to FDACS. This approval allows the owner of the approved hemp variety or cultivar to legally propagate and sell the vegetative cuttings here in Florida.
“Transparency with hemp genetics and the potential for the industry to thrive with adapted genetics is extremely important,” said Jerry Fankhauser, lead oversight manager of the UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project. “We don’t have a good handle on what hemp cultivars will grow and develop well here in the state of Florida under our sub-tropical environmental conditions. We are trying to understand that by employing science in a consistent, controlled, 12-week grow process we may better understand which cultivars may be suitable for the Florida market.”
For more information on the approval process and how to participate, visit the UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Program approval process website.