Kentucky Hemp Growing Season 2020

Want to grow hemp in 2020? Here are some things you need to know.

There is an astronomical amount of interest for growing hemp in Kentucky, yet many new growers may not realize that applying to participate in Kentucky’s program is an involved process that requires fairly significant leg work on their part.

oldham county hemp

To grow hemp in Kentucky, you must submit an application and receive a license from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The application deadline to grow hemp this year is March 15. Here are some tips to help you with that process.

  • Before you do anything, KDA asks growers to assess their financial risk before entering the industry. The hemp marketplace is still in its infancy. The supply chain is still developing; hemp varieties are unpredictable and many regulatory issues remain unresolved at the federal level.
  • To be considered for the program, you must get the background check application from KDA’s website and submit it to the Kentucky State Police. Once you receive the results, you can upload them to your KDA grower application. Background checks are required for individual applicants and key participants within a business. These must be completed 60 days or less from the time the application is submitted to KDA. The program only approves applicants who have not been convicted of a felony or a drug-related misdemeanor in the past 10 years.
  • Each field must be at least a quarter of an acre, and producers must be able to plant 1,000 plants. You cannot grow hemp in your yard or within 1,000 feet of a school or public park.
  • Know where you want to grow. You must provide KDA with a growing location for your hemp. If you change your growing location after submitting an application, you will be charged a $750 site modification fee. All growing locations must have a Kentucky address. If the property doesn’t have an address, you must estimate one. The online application software includes a mapping feature that enables the applicant to identify hemp fields, greenhouses and storage areas.
  • The KDA has a Summary of Varieties List that includes more than 200 tested varieties to help educate farmers about their THC testing history. This tool helps producers select varieties that are likely to test below the legal limit of 0.3%. If you want to grow a variety that is not on that list, after obtaining your license, you must submit a “New Hemp Variety or Strain Request Form” along with a certificate of analysis that shows the variety has a total THC not more than 0.3%. The KDA does prohibit some varieties due to their THC testing history in Kentucky, where they consistently test above the legal limit.
  • You must secure your own seeds and a buyer for your product. You should read these business contracts carefully and be comfortable with their requirements.
  • Hemp is eligible for crop insurance in 2020. Contact your local crop insurance agent for more information before the crop insurance sales closing date of March 15.

Once approved for the program, keep copies of your grower license within easy access and near hemp materials. You may be required to display it for KDA officials or law enforcement.

More information and the hemp grower application is available on the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s website. More information on UK’s hemp-related agronomic and economic research is available at https://hemp.ca.uky.edu or by contacting your county Extension Office. Oldham County, Kentucky residents can call (502) 222-9453.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.


Written by Doris Hamilton, Hemp Program Manager, Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Edited by Traci Missun, Oldham County Agriculture Agent.

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