After some issues at the start of the hemp plot programs in Kentucky, including a lengthy legal battle for their seeds, it seems the hemp crops have begun to flourish at a mind-blowing rate. The industrial hemp stalks have now grown from 6 feet to a whopping 16 feet in just two months. Officials are calling it a great sign for things to come and what could be a new cash crop for Kentucky.
“It’s exciting,” University of Kentucky plant researcher David Williams said. “It’s new. It has potential. And so it’s very fun. It’s a lot of fun to be involved in something that’s new and potentially possible for Kentucky farmers.” Williams plans to harvest the industrial hemp crop in Kentucky sometime in September and compare its growth to the 12 other varieties of hemp he has planted. “I think we can grow larger plants with a full growing season,” He said. “We lost about a month.” He believes if they hadn’t run into all those issues with the Drug Enforcement Agency, (who held on to their seeds for a handful of weeks) the crop would be even taller at this point, let alone in September. Regardless, the late start hasn’t changed much in their development, because they’re flourishing, and it’s exciting.
At another industrial hemp plot, Williams says he is very happy with his 7 to 8 foot plants, exclaiming, “We did have one little dry spell after planting, but have not irrigated this crop, so it’s doing quite well,” As you can read in hemp news, the crop doesn’t take much to grow and maintain. Like a weed, it will virtually grow anywhere and in any type of soil. Williams also said he wishes to experiment with fertilizers and herbicides. “This is just a baby step this year…It’s a tiny, tiny step in a very positive direction, but there’s lots that we need to know.”
State officials say they will make this year’s findings public and although they are still in early stages of the research process, they feel the evidence will be overwhelming. However, hemp faces challenges in Kentucky and the United States. There is still no successful infrastructure to allow local area farmers and land owners the distribution networks they need to supply commercial hemp product companies with their industrial hemp crop. On top of that, growing hemp for commercial purposes is still illegal in the US. Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky introduced a bill in Congress to legalize commercial production, and 49 Republicans and Democrats signed on as co-sponsors, but it might still be a while before we see farmers shipping off their industrial hemp crops to local businesses.