The potential of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) as an emerging drought resistant fibre crop

Alison R. Gill, Beth R. Loveys, Timothy R. Cavagnaro, Rachel A. Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Periods of drought are projected to increase in intensity and frequency across many parts of the world, affecting freshwater availability for agriculture and limiting cropping productivity. Exploring innovative opportunities to utilise novel drought resistant crops should be prioritized to sustainably meet growing demand for food and fibre. The potential benefits of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) as a drought resistant fibre crop have been touted, but the underlying evidence base of such claims is conflicting. Hemp has several drought resistance traits that allow it to thrive under water deficit, including deep roots and effective stomatal regulation, but studies report varying results for water requirements and water use efficiency. 

Scope: In this context, we provide a comprehensive discussion of the current state of knowledge regarding fibre hemp water use in a range of environments and between varieties, highlighting physiological attributes that contribute to its drought resistance with a view to guiding and stimulating further research. 

Conclusions: With relatively low water requirements compared to other fibre crops, hemp shows great potential as a drought resistant crop, offering exciting possibilities to produce sustainable fibre in a changing climate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Early online date26 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Agronomy
  • Bast fibre
  • Cannabis sativa
  • Drought resistant crops
  • Hemp
  • Industrial hemp water use
  • Sustainable fibre production
  • Water stress
  • Water use efficiency


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