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Sanitation for Small-Scale Field Hemp Plantings
By: Nicole Gauthier & Kimberly Leonberger, Kentucky Extension - 05/23/2022

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.

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 is available at:

- Hemp Field Sanitation for Small-Scale Plantings (Kentucky Hemp Disease Website)

- Plant Pathology Publication Webpage

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