Pesticide Applications to Industrial Hemp in North Carolina

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5/29/2019 – Written by Lee Davis, Registration Manager, Pesticides Section, N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services 

As you probably know, the federal government recently removed industrial hemp from the controlled substances list further fueling the already intense interest in producing this crop and selling the products made from it. For those who want to grow industrial hemp, there are challenges to overcome, not least of which is pest control. But, since industrial hemp has only recently become a legal crop in the United States, the choices for pest control are limited. Therefore, when choosing which pesticides to apply to this crop in North Carolina, it is important to understand what is currently considered legal.

It has come to our attention that there are several creative labeling interpretations circulating that attempt to uphold application of federally registered pesticides to industrial hemp. It is our understanding that as of now, there are no federally registered pesticide products that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers legal for application to industrial hemp. (Note from Melton: This statement includes EPA registered organic pesticides). 

Since this crop was considered illegal, the EPA did not register pesticides for application to it. Now that the crop is legal, the door may be open for the EPA to begin accepting requests from pesticide manufacturers to add industrial hemp to their labels. But, this will take time. As of now, we believe that should the EPA begin registering products for use on industrial hemp, those products will be eligible for registration in North Carolina.

For now, only those pesticides the EPA considers “minimum risk pesticides” are eligible for use on industrial hemp in North Carolina. They must also be registered in our state, specifically labeled for application to industrial hemp, or labeled broadly enough that industrial hemp can be considered covered by the label. Since some of the by-products of industrial hemp may end up in consumable products, the ingredients in the minimum risk pesticides must be approved for application to food crops and they must be labeled for application to food crops. But, keep in mind, if there is language on the label that would in some way prohibit application to industrial hemp, the label language takes precedence.

Contact: Lee Davis, Registration Manager, Pesticides Section NCDA&CS Lee.Davis@ncagr.gov