The Garden State of New Jersey is well known for its varied geography. Here’s a look at whether it has the necessary conditions to support the cultivation of industrial hemp.
Plant Hardiness Zone(s)
The state of New Jersey is divided into 4 planting zones, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, as per the latest USDA plant hardiness map. The most suitable planting zones for hemp rage from 8 to 11. However, this does not mean that this hardy crop cannot be grown in other zones; farmers simply need to prepare for such requirements.
Even though most of New Jersey has a humid subtropical climate, the mountainous region, in the far northwestern corner of the state has a humid continental climate. The southern part of the state is usually warmer than the mountainous northwestern part.
The average annual temperature across the state stands at 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit. The minimum average annual temperature for growing hemp ranges from 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Length of Growing Season
The average length of the growing season in the state of New Jersey is around 180 days. The northern region has the shortest growing period, while the southern region has the longest. Hemp plants grow from seed to maturity in about 120 days. It is important to note that frost may damage or kill hemp plants.
Average Annual Sunlight
The state has about 206 sunny days per year. The day length increases the past 12 hours after the start of the growing season, to more than 14 hours during the summer solstice in June. Afterward, the hours of sunshine start decreasing as the end of the growing season and the December solstice approaches. To grow to their best possible size, hemp plants need more than 12 hours of sunlight to support the rapid growth during the vegetative stage.
Average Annual Precipitation
The average annual precipitation for the state is 46.01 inches. The north-central part of the state receives the highest amount of rainfall, at 51 inches, while the southeastern coast receives the lowest, 40 inches. Hemp requires a minimum of 25- 30 inches of rainfall per year.
The state of New Jersey has a mean elevation of 250 feet above sea level. The highest being High Point, which stands at 1,803 feet above sea level, while the lowest is where the land meets the Atlantic Ocean. To avoid stressing the plant, hemp should be planted at elevations below 600-800 feet.
Most of the soils in the state of New Jersey are acidic. Some of the soils in the Ridge and Valley regions of the state have a neutral or slightly alkaline pH as a result of the limestone factor. In some areas, excess liming has turned the pH of some soils from acidic to alkaline. A soil pH level of between 6 and 7.5 is best for growing hemp.
New Jersey is home to about 85 named soil varieties. The Appalachian region of the state has rocky soils, while the Coastal Plains are known for their sandy soils. In between these two regions, there is a smoother variety of soils formed from shale. Loamy, aerated, and well-drained soils that can hold moisture and nutrients well are best for hemp cultivation.
As is the case in most areas of North America, the European corn borer is one of the biggest threats to hemp plants in New Jersey.
Obtaining A Hemp Grower’s License In New Jersey
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 New Jersey, as well as a breakdown of the application process, click here. Read about hemp legality by state.