Developing Pest and Fertility Best Practices for Industrial Hemp

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2019: $29,973.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2021
Grant Recipient: University of Vermont
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Dr. Heather Darby
University of Vermont Extension

Information Products


  • Miscellaneous: Industrial Hemp


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, fertilizers, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Pest Management: botanical pesticides, cultural control, integrated pest management

    Proposal abstract:

    Hemp, a non-psychoactive variety of Cannabis sativa L, is a crop of historical importance and is re-emerging as a popular crop as it is sought out for a wide variety of consumer and industrial products. As of April 2019, there are currently 300 farmers registered to plant 4500 acres of hemp (Vermont Agency of Agriculture, 2019). As the acreage of hemp increases throughout the Northeast and growing practices are established, the impacts on crop loss due to lack of/or improper fertility, disease, and pest management are becoming more evident. With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp is now removed from the list of controlled substances and is considered a legal agricultural crop. The industry is growing rapidly and scientifically based research and education is critical so farmers can succeed with this new crop. This project will create research that fills informational gaps on the composition and management of pests and disease, and will provide agronomic knowledge to farmers specific to the environmental conditions of Northern New England. This project will connect farmers, the industry community, and researchers through community outreach, field days, and on-farm research trials. On-farm scouting will be implemented with community partners along with research trials, including an fungicide trial and nitrogen rate trial established at collaborating industrial hemp farms. Research results and educational materials will be distributed to over 500 industrial hemp growers in the Northeast.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to understand production challenges industrial hemp growers face in the Northeast and begin to develop best management practices related to nutrient and pest management. The benefits to farmers are improved yield and quality of industrial hemp grown by local farms and ultimately higher profitability.

    Objective 1. Develop optimum nitrogen rates for fertilizing industrial hemp in the Northeast.

    Indications of success will include improved yields and profits through optimization of application rates and consistently producing compliant crops.

    Objective 2. Identify viable biofungicides to control fungal diseases of hemp. Indications of success for farmers will include establishment of scouting protocols, management practices for diseases, and higher quality crops.

    Objective 3. Qualify the species composition of arthropod and disease pest on industrial hemp on Vermont farms and quantify the impact of arthropod pests on industrial hemp. If successful, growers will develop scouting schedules and become effective in disease and arthropod identification and management leading to higher quality crops.

    These research objective will result in the development of best management and the resultant information will be delivered to farmers and end- users through an extensive outreach program. The outreach materials will be delivered via guides, videos, web-based resources, and outreach events.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.