The Effect of Transplant Date and Plant Spacing on Biomass Production for Floral Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.)


Floral hemp cultivated for the extraction of cannabinoids is a new crop in the United States, and agronomic recommendations are scarce. The objective of this study was to understand the effects of plant spacing and transplant date on floral hemp growth and biomass production. Field trials were conducted in North Carolina in 2020 and 2021 with the floral hemp cultivar BaOx. Transplant date treatments occurred every two weeks from 11 May to 7 July (±1 d). Plant spacing treatments were 0.91, 1.22, 1.52, and 1.83 m between plants. Weekly height and width data were collected throughout the vegetative period, and dry biomass was measured at harvest. Plant width was affected by transplant date and spacing. Plant height was affected by transplant date. Earlier transplant dates resulted in taller, wider plants, while larger plant spacing resulted in wider plants. Individual plant biomass increased with earlier transplant dates and larger plant spacing. On a per-hectare basis, biomass increased with earlier transplant dates and smaller transplant spacing. An economic analysis found that returns were highest with 1.22 m spacing and decreased linearly by a rate of −163.098 USD ha−1 d−1. These findings highlight the importance of earlier transplant timing to maximize harvestable biomass.