Industrial Hemp Production
Industrial hemp has been in the news recently with its legalization through the farm bill. Although its status 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.
- The next application period is anticipated to be in October – November 2019, and this would be to apply for a permit to grow the crop in 2020. (Applications to grow this crop 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 an application is available at Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s website. This provides 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 refining 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 6th year of industrial hemp research. A production guide for industrial hemp is included at hemp.ca.uky.edu.
- UK Extension also has 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 on 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 websites above will include information about upcoming meetings and field days.
Written by Traci Missun, Oldham County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent.