General Pesticide Information
All pesticides used in Alabama, on hemp or otherwise, must be registered with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates pesticide use in the United States per the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). All pesticide applications must be done in accordance with the label, as the label is the law.
Regarding pesticide use on hemp, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) has worked with ADAI to identify some products that can legally be applied to hemp. These products are broadly labeled and exempt from the requirement of a tolerance on food crops. There may be other products that can be used, but they must first be approved by ADAI. For approval, contact a member of the Extension Hemp Action Team and we will work with ADAI to get an answer.
Be cautious of any products recommended by a source other than ACES or ADAI. These are the only two agencies working to ensure the legal use of pesticides on hemp within the state of Alabama. The use of an unapproved product on hemp will result in complete crop destruction. Lists of approved pesticides from other states where hemp is grown SHOULD NOT be followed as a guide for use in Alabama. Each states has its own regulations regarding pesticide use in hemp. Just because it is approved for use in another state does not mean it is approved for use in Alabama. ACES and ADAI are continuing to work on creating a complete list of pesticides that can be used on hemp and are registered in Alabama; however, this process is slow.
Before applying any pesticide, it is crucial growers speak with their processing company to ensure their crop will be complaint. Processors have a separate set of regulations regarding both allowable pesticides and residue limits. If the hemp has been treated with a pesticide not approved by the processor or the pesticide residues are too high, the crop will fail and be rejected.
Integrated Pest Management
We have identified many insects and diseases on hemp in Alabama this year. We do not know yet if all of them are causing economic damage or are incidental. Therefore, it is important to remember that chemical control should only be used as a last resort and as part of an integrated pest management strategy. Cultural control methods such as proper fertility, irrigation, and sanitation should all be prioritized over pesticides. Healthy plants are more resistant to diseases and insects.
Proper identification of diseases and insects should occur before any pesticides are applied. Please contact a member of the Extension Hemp Action Team for help in identification before making applications. Preventative applications of fungicides are not recommended at this time. The only diseases we have identified in Alabama include Pythium damping-off, southern blight and Fusarium canker. All of these diseases are soil-borne and fungicide applications will not prevent or treat them. ACES has multiple Plant Pathologists and Entomologists scouting for diseases and insect pests across the state in hemp fields. If we begin to see foliar diseases that preventative fungicide applications will help control, we will provide growers with a list of products that are approved by ADAI for use in hemp. With the limited amount of information we have on this crop, it is too risky to apply pesticides on a preventative basis.