Hemp plant diseases are present in University of Florida (UF)/IFAS research trials. But their impact has been minimal so far, says Johan Desaeger, Assistant Professor of Entomology and Nematology at the UF Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.
“So far, honestly, we haven’t seen too much in our trials here. We’ve seen some fungal diseases some leaf spot. We’ve seen some mites; we’ve seen some worms but nothing that I would say was really causing damage to the crop. Another thing we’ve seen is nematodes. They do get nematodes, but again, we haven’t seen so far any clear evidence of damage caused by the nematodes,” he said. “They feed on the crop. We know that. They’re a host for root-knot.
“Hemp, these plants, they put on so much roots that I feel they can kind of overcome the damage.”
Hemp research is still in its infancy stages, not only at UF, but at universities across the Southeast. Desaeger believes as more hemp is produced across the state, diseases will become more prevalent.
“I think they will show up eventually. I think we just haven’t seen much because we just started growing it. It often takes a few seasons and few years for these diseases and pests to come in when you start a new crop. The more we start growing hemp, I’m sure the more issues that are going to be reported,” Desaeger said. “I (also) think we’ll start learning a lot more when we have growers start to plant it in their fields. Most of the stuff we’ve done is on station, research trials, not really out there in the real world if you know what I mean.”