Another industrial hemp season is off and running in Kentucky. Hemp production is expected to grow by leaps and bounds this year.
The tractor at the University of Kentucky demonstration site signaled the start of hemp planting. During the initial research project a year ago, the crop was planted on one-tenth of one acre. This spring, Research Coordinator David Williams says hemp is being planted on almost 30 acres of land. "There are lots of processors that are very, very interested in the hemp industry in Kentucky and they've already invested a huge amount of time, money, and effort in establishing the necessary infrastructure for processing," said Williams.
Statewide there are 24 processors, seven universities, and 99 growers. State Industrial Hemp Coordinator Adam Watson says end product uses will vary. "We have pilot projects that are looking at the CBD Nutraceutical side of industrial hemp," Watson said. "We have grain related projects that are going to be looking at pressing oil and the resultant seed cake. We have fiber related projects. So, we have projects that are looking at all the multiple different uses of industrial hemp."
Statewide, about 1,000 acres of hemp will be planted, compared to 33 acres last season. Watson says it's hard to say just yet if production will grow even more next year. "It all depends on what we find out this year," Watson explained. "We may see similar numbers, it may grow, it may reduce. It all just depends on what applicants want to do, what processors need to do their research, so the future is still a question."
Watson says hemp plantings are planned from Pike County to Murray and everywhere in between.