A Guide to Growing Hemp in Mississippi
Mostly made up of low hills and lowland plains, the state of Mississippi has a vibrant farming economy. Here’s more on whether the state has what it takes to support the growing of hemp.
Plant Hardiness Zone(s)
Before you start growing hemp, it is important to find out whether it can be grown outdoors, all year long. Hemp can only survive the lowest winter temperatures in zones 8 to 11. This means that growers in the state of Mississippi, with its 7b to 9a planting zones, don’t have much to worry about.
Mississippi has a humid, subtropical climate. This means that it experiences long and hot summers, and temperate winters. Minimum average annual temperatures of 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit are necessary to support the growth of healthy hemp crops. The average annual temperature for the state stands at 64.55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Length of Growing Season
While hemp prefers a warm climate high humidity can cause issues like mold or fungus and challenges when drying out the plants. Frost too can be fatal to hemp plants. As such, growers need to factor this in when deciding when to plant their crops, taking into consideration the plant’s 120 day growing period. The last frost disappears as early as mid March in some parts of the state, while the first frost may appear as late as November. In between these last and first frost days is a 205-day long growing season.
Average Annual Sunlight
The state receives around 2,720 hours of sunshine each year. Hemp plants need more than 12 hours of sunlight each day to grow into big and strong mature plants. When the hours of sunshine per day go below 12, the plants stop growing and start flowering.
Average Annual Precipitation
Seasonal rainfall of 10-12 inches is optimal and high rainfall in Mississippi may also present challenges. Farmers will need to employ means to keep hemp plants cool and dry for optimal results.
The state receives about 54.16 inches of precipitation each year. This is more than enough to support the growing of hemp plants, which require a minimum annual average of 25 to 30 inches of rainfall to survive in the field. It is however worth noting that cases of flooding are also common in this part of the country. Excess water can kill or damage growing hemp plants.
The mean elevation of the state of Mississippi is about 300 feet. High altitudes, above 600 to 800 feet, can stress these crops. Mississippi has the right altitude for cultivating hemp without subjecting the crops to unnecessary stress.
In most parts of the state, the soils are acidic. The pH levels across the state vary between 4 and 8. The area referred to as the Black Belt or Northeast Prairie is covered by alkaline soils. A soil pH level ranging from 6 to 7.5 is best for growing hemp plants.
Hemp plants are highly adaptable and can thrive in a variety of soil conditions although loose, aerated soil is best.
Mississippi is divided into a number of major soil areas including Upper Coastal Plain (older, well-defined soils), Loess Hills (fertile and well-drained soils), Blackland Prairie (fine textured shrink-swell clays), Delta (wet medium to heavy texture soils), Flatwoods and Lower Coastal Plain (wet, sandy soils). Hemp grows well in nutrient-rich soils that can hold water well, are aerated and well drained.
Corn borers are a common problem to growing hemp plants in the state. Other threats include aphids, spider mites and viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens. Even though hemp plants are considered to be quite sturdy, they are susceptible to these local pests.
Obtaining A Hemp Grower’s License In Mississippi
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. View our breakdown of the 2018 Farm Bill for more information on the legal status of hemp in Mississippi, as well as a breakdown of the application process.