Growing Hemp in Alabama
Plant Hardiness Zone(s)
The state of Alabama is divided into a number of zones, ranging from 7a to 9a, according to the USDA plant hardiness map. Plant hardiness zones 8 to 11 are the best for growing hemp. Farmers can use this information to decide when they need to plant their crop and reap the best harvest.
Alabama has a humid subtropical climate. The proximity of the Gulf of Mexico results in warmer temperatures in the southern part of the state, while the Appalachian Mountains result in cooler temperatures in the northeast region of the state. The state’s average annual temperature is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The minimum average annual temperature for growing industrial hemp ranges between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Length of Growing Season
Frost may damage or even kill hemp plants; this is exactly why you need to know the last and first frost days before deciding to start growing it. On average, the state of Alabama has a 185 day long growing season – in between the last and first frost. In the southern parts of the state, this season can be as long as 300 days. The growing season might start as early as February and end as late as November in some parts. Hemp takes about 120 days to grow from seedling to mature plants ready for harvest.
Average Annual Sunlight
Each year, there are about 213 sunny days in the state of Alabama. Since hemp plants need more than 12 hours of sunlight each day to grow to their maximum size during the vegetative stage, it is important for farmers who intend to grow them outdoors to plant at the right time. Otherwise the plants might stop growing and start flowering earlier than necessary.
Average Annual Precipitation
Alabama receives rainfall throughout the year. The average annual precipitation is estimated to be about 56 inches. The driest period in the southern part of the state occurs between the months of august and October. In the north, the rainiest period is between the months of November and April. Hemp plants need a lot of moisture during the earlier stages of growth, a minimum of 25 to 30 inches per year; however, too much water can kill growing crops.
The East Gulf Coastal Plain makes up more than two thirds of the total area covered by the state of Alabama. The mean elevation of the state is 500 feet above sea level. To avoid stressing the growing plants, hemp should be grown at elevations lower than 600 to 800 feet above sea level.
Most of the soils in the state of Alabama have a pH level of between 4 and 8. Acidic soils are mainly found in Alabama’s Piedmont and Sandstone Plateau regions; soils in the Limestone Valley are alkaline, but may be acidic on the surface due to excessive leaching; In the Black Belt Prairies, most of the soils are alkaline because they are formed from Selma chalk
Bama soil is the official state soil of Alabama. These are moderately permeable and well drained soils found in most of the cultivable parts of the state. Hemp grows best in aerated, well-drained loamy soils that hold nutrients and moisture well.
In addition to the European corn borer, Alabama is also known to have a number of pests that can damage growing hemp plants including, aphids and spider mites among others.
Obtaining A Hemp Grower’s License In Alabama
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 Alabama, as well as a breakdown of the application process, click here.