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 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 Gauthier, Plant Pathology Extension Specialist, and Kimberly Leonberger, Plant Pathology Extension Associate

Posted in Hemp
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