Hemp Homecoming: Rebirth Sprouts in Kentucky

The crop’s reintroduction was delayed in the spring when imported hemp seeds were detained by U.S. customs officials. The state’s Agriculture Department sued the federal government, but dropped the case Friday after reaching an agreement on importing the seeds into Kentucky. The seeds were released after federal drug officials approved a permit.

Since then, test plots have shown the crop to be hardy and fast growing — and a potential moneymaker with a remarkable range of traditional uses including clothing, mulch, hemp milk, cooking oil, soap and lotions.

“What we’ve learned is it will grow well in Kentucky,” Comer said. “It yields a lot per acre. All the things that we predicted.”

At Murray State University, about 180 miles southwest of Louisville, plants have sprouted to at least 8 feet tall, turning a shade of green and yellow as they reach maturity. Harvest is approaching.

“It’s had a good growth period,” said Murray State agriculture dean Tony L. Brannon. “It appeared to tolerate the extremes in weather from extremely wet to extremely dry pretty well.”

Hemp’s roots in Kentucky date back to pioneer days and the towering stalks were once a staple at many farms.

“We’ve got an excellent climate for it, excellent soils for it,” Watson said. “It’s a good fit for Kentucky producers. The ultimate question is going to come down to economics. Is there a market and can Kentucky capture that?”

– Read the entire article at USA Today.

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