Known for its mountains, West Virginia is also home to some of the most fertile lands in the country. Here’s a look at whether it has the necessary conditions to support the growing of hemp flower.
Plant Hardiness Zone(s)
The USDA plant hardiness map for West Virginia splits the state into a variety of zones, ranging from 5a to 7a; moving from the highest to the lowest elevation areas. Most of the state lies in zones 6a and 6b. Hemp flower is hardy to zones 8 to 11.
The diverse topography of the state creates regional variants in climatic conditions. The southwestern part of the state has a subtropical climate. This means that the winters are mild, while summers are hot and humid. The remaining parts of the state have a humid continental climate, resulting in lower average temperatures. The average annual temperature for the state stands at 55.7 degrees Fahrenheit. This meets the minimum average annual temperature requirements of growing hemp flower, which range between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Length of Growing Season
On average, the growing season in West Virginia lasts about 150 days each year. The last frost may be seen as early as March in some parts of the state, while the first frost may appear as late as October. Hemp flower has a 120 day growing period, from planting to maturity.
Average Annual Sunlight
West Virginia enjoys around 155 sunny days in a year. The average day length increases from under 12 hours, around mid-March when the growing season starts, to more than 14 hours in June, before it starts decreasing as the end of the growing season approaches. Hemp plants need more than 12 hours of sunlight each day to grow to their maximum size during the vegetative stage.
Average Annual Precipitation
The average annual precipitation across the entire state of West Virginia is around 40.02 inches. This meets the minimum average annual precipitation required for growing hemp flower. It is however worth noting that flooding might be an issue in some parts of the state around the months of May and June. Excess moisture in the soil due to flooding can damage or even kill hemp plants. Plants suffering from the effects of excess water usually have yellowing leaves.
The mean elevation of the state stands at 1,500 feet above sea level. The Potomac River, at 240 feet above sea level is the lowest spot in the state, while Spruce Knob is the highest point, standing at 4,863 feet above sea level. Hemp plants should not be grown above in areas with an elevation of more than 600 to 800 feet above sea level.
West Virginia is made up of mountainous areas and relatively flat river valleys. The soils in the river valleys are formed in shales or limestone. The former have a moderate to low pH, while the latter have a moderate to high pH. Soils in the mountains have a moderate to low pH. Hemp grows well in soils with 6 to 7.5 pH levels.
Soils in the mountains have a loamy or sandy texture, with a low composition of nutrients. Shale soils in the river valleys have a loamy and silty texture, with a moderate to low nutrient composition. The most fertile soils are those in the river valleys, formed over limestone; they have a loamy and clayey texture. Well drained, aerated soils that hold nutrients and moisture well are the best for growing hemp flower.
Some of the common pests posing a threat to growing hemp plants in the state include the European corn borer, aphids, hemp flea as well as viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens.
Obtaining A Hemp Flower Grower’s License In West Virginia
Under federal law, it is illegal to grow hemp flower 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 West Virginia, as well as a breakdown of the application process, click here. List of CBD laws & regulations of the United States by state.