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Getting on Board

Farmers wanting to grow hemp
must follow several rules

The new industry is heavily regulated
by state ag officials

(May 2019) – Industrial hemp has been in the news recently with its legalization through the Farm Bill.  Although its status has changed, industrial hemp is still a heavily regulated crop. Following are some points to help navigate what this means.
Anyone interested in growing hemp must apply for a permit and be approved through the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Visit www.kyagr.com/marketing/hemp-pilot.html.

Traci Missun

The next application period is anticipated to be in October to November 2019, and this would be to apply for a permit to grow the crop in 2020. (Applications to grow industrial hemp in 2019 were due in fall 2018).
Applicants are responsible for identifying a processor to buy their crop (Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s website includes a list of processors).
A background check through the Kentucky State Police is required with the application.
A sample copy of the application is available at Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s website. This will provide an overview of requirements.
Even though hemp was once a common crop in Kentucky, its production then was mainly for fiber. With new interest in hemp production for grain and especially cannabidiol (CBD oil), there is still a long way to go in determining the best production practices and the best seed/transplant varieties to use.
Desired plant characteristics depend on what the end use of the crop will be. For instance, hemp plants grown for fiber are ideally taller with small enough stems to allow harvest. And ideally, hemp plants grown for CBD oil will be shorter and bear only female flowers. Shorter plants make harvesting flowers or the entire plant easier (one harvest option is to cut and hang plants like tobacco).
University of Kentucky Extension is in its sixth year of industrial hemp research. A production guide for industrial hemp is included at https://hemp.ca.uky.edu.
UK Extension has also provided a budget spreadsheet for producers to plug in their own numbers to judge potential profitability, posted at the site listed above.
There are several videos of hemp production at UK Extension’s YouTube channel.
In 2018, there were six industrial hemp license holders in Oldham County, producing hemp in seven locations in the county.
The sites above will include information about upcoming meetings and field days.

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