Here’s a comprehensive guide on what you need to know about growing hemp in Florida.
Plant Hardiness Zone(s)
For the state of Florida, the US Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones range from zone 8a to 10b. This is from the Crestview, where winter averages rarely go below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, to Southeast Florida, where the minimum average winter temperature is 35 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. This range matches up well with hemp’s hardiness range, which stretches between zones 8 and 11.
The state of Florida is covered by a variety of climate zones. Central and northern parts of the state have a humid subtropical climate. Most of the areas in the southern end of the state have a tropical climate. Some areas in the south eastern coast of Florida have monsoon and rainforest climate. Hemp plants grow well in mild, humid climates.
Length of Growing Season
The growing season in tropical regions like Florida can last a whole year. This means that farmers can plant and harvest their crop throughout the year provided that they are within the tropical areas of the state. In the northern and central parts of the state, the growing season can last be anywhere between the months of March and November.
Average Annual Sunlight
The state of Florida receives an average of around 2600 hours of sunlight each year. This translates to just over 7 hours of sunlight each day on average. Hemp plants need more than 12 hours of sunlight each day to grow to their full size during the vegetative stage. Otherwise the flowering stage is triggered, halting growth. Between the months of April to September, Florida receives more than 12 hours of sunlight each day.
Average Annual Precipitation
The state of Florida has an official rainy season which is mainly experienced during the summer months, between the months of May and October. The average annual precipitation throughout the state is about 59.21 inches. This annual average is more than enough to support the healthy growth of industrial hemp plants, as their basic requirement is an annual average of 25 to 30 inches of rainfall.
The mean elevation of Florida is estimated to be just 100 feet, rising from the Atlantic Ocean, which is at sea level, upwards to Britton Hill, Walton County, at 345 feet above sea level. The low lying plains of Florida favor the cultivation of hemp, which does well when grown in relatively flat areas lying below 400 feet in elevation.
The soil pH for most Florida soils is acidic, at around 6.1. Soils around pine woods are the most acidic, while those formed from the decomposition of calcium-rich materials are alkaline. Since hemp does well in balanced or slightly acidic soils, farmers should first learn find out more about the pH of the soil in their area.
Florida soils are mostly sandy, with clay in some parts. These soils are far from the ideal well drained soils best suited to the cultivation of hemp. However, the soils can be improved to meet the requirements of the plant.
Hemp is susceptible to fungal, viral and bacterial pathogens. European corn borers may also present a threat, though not too common to this part of the country.
Obtaining A Hemp Grower’s License In Florida
Under federal law, it is illegal to grow hemp anywhere in the United States without first obtaining a grower’s license from the appropriate regulatory body for the state in which the interested party intends to plant the crop. For information on the legal status of hemp in Florida, as well as a breakdown of the application process, click here.