Sanitation Recommendations for Small-Scale Field Hemp Plantings

Hemp is often considered a disease-free plant. However, research is being done to determine whether certain pathogens can increase to problematic levels in the field. Should disease become a significant problem in field-planted hemp, the result can be premature leaf drop, bud decay, dieback, decline, and even plant death.  A good sanitation program can help reduce disease in the field. In addition, these practices can reduce the need for chemical controls, which are a limited option for hemp growers.  Sanitation can also improve the effectiveness of other cultural practices for managing diseases.

Figure 1: Remove weeds and volunteer plants to limit alternate hosts and disease spread (Photo: Nicole W Gauthier, UK)

Sanitation Practices

  • Remove diseased plant tissues from infected plants.
  • Prune affected branches several inches below the point of infection. Make cuts at intersecting branches when possible.
  • Discard plants that are heavily infected and those with untreatable diseases, such as root rots and vascular wilts. Dig out entire plants when possible.
  • Discard fallen leaves, prunings, and culled plants. Infected plant material should be buried, burned, or removed from the area. Do not compost diseased plant material.
  • Plow under fallen leaves to promote the breakdown of leaf tissue. Woody stems do not decay readily and should be removed from fields.
  • Remove weeds and volunteer plants to limit alternate hosts and disease spread (Figure 1).

Additional Information


By Nicole W Gauthier, Extension Plant Pathologist and Kimberly Leonberger, Extension Associate


Posted in Hemp