PLoS One. 2023 May 19;18(5):e0284537. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0284537. eCollection 2023.
While most studies on floral hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) concur that additions of nitrogen (N) increase plant growth, the performance of floral hemp is heavily influenced by environmental conditions, management and cultivar selection. In regions with a short growing season, the availability of soil N may determine plant developmental rates, final inflorescence biomass and cannabinoid concentrations, but no studies have addressed this for field-grown hemp under high-desert conditions. This field study evaluated the effect of no supplemental N and N fertilization at 90 kg ha-1 on three hemp cultivars (Berry Blossom, Red Bordeaux, and Tahoe Cinco) in Northern Nevada. N increased plant height, canopy cover, stem diameter and shoot biomass, but other physiological parameters were dependent on cultivar. For instance, inflorescence biomass and inflorescence-to-shoot ratio in Red Bordeaux was not affected by N fertilization. Similarly, cannabinoid concentrations were affected by timing of harvest and cultivar but not by N treatment. We evaluated the use of a SPAD meter for ease of determining leaf N deficiency, and correlations with leaf chlorophyll content showed that the SPAD meter was a reliable tool in two cultivars but not in Tahoe Cinco. N treatment increased overall CBD yield, which was driven by increases in inflorescence biomass. Tahoe Cinco was the best CBD yielding cultivar, as it maintained a high inflorescence-to-shoot ratio regardless of N treatment. Our study suggests that even though hemp may have a positive response to soil N management, adjustments based on genotype by environment interaction should be aimed at maximizing cannabinoid yield either by increasing biomass and/or CBD concentrations as long as THC levels are within the permissible <0.3% for U.S. industrial hemp cultivation.
PMID:37205680 | PMC:PMC10198490 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0284537