Tags Posts tagged with "Hemp Program"

Hemp Program

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The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has accepted over 200 applications from farmers who have been given the ok to cultivate up to almost 13,000 acres of industrial hemp for research purposes in 2017. Over 525,000 square feet of greenhouse space were approved for indoor growers, as well.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles stated, “By nearly tripling hemp acreage in 2017 and attracting more processors to the state, we are significantly growing opportunities for Kentucky farmers. Our strategy is to use Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture’s research pilot program to encourage the industrial hemp industry to expand and prosper in the state.” He continued, “Although it is not clear when Congress might act to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, my strategic objective is to position the Commonwealth’s growers and processors to ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture received just over 250 applications. Applicants were asked to identify which harvestable component of the plant would be the focus of their research: grain, floral material, or fiber. Some applicants selected more than one. Five universities will conduct additional research in 2017. The department officials named the recent decline in commodity prices as a factor that appears to be generating increased interest among growers in industrial hemp. In 2016, just under 140 growers were accepted to plant up to 4,500 acres. Program participants planted more than 2,300 acres of hemp in 2016, up from 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014.

To enhance the department’s association with local and state law enforcement officers, KDA will add GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates were required to be submitted on the application. Applicants also must pass background checks and consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any location where hemp or hemp products are being handled, processed, or grown.

Quarles stated, “We have made collaboration and communication with the law enforcement community a top priority for KDA’s management of this research pilot program.” Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp research pilot program assessed the applications and considered whether returning applicants had complied with instructions from KDA, local law enforcement, and Kentucky State Police. To advertise clarity and ensure a fair playing field while evaluating applications, The Kentucky Department of Agriculture relied on objective criteria outlined in the 2017 Policy Guide.

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Because of a farm bill from last year, universities and state agricultural departments are able to grow industrial hemp primarily for research purposes. One university, North Dakota State University, and their Langdon Research Extension Center began planting hemp for experiments during the summer time and have begun to harvest the crops.

Bryan Hanson is an agronomist at the university and leads the hemp trails through their courses. He said: “It’s very exciting for us to be able to start variety trials.”

Langdon Research Extension Center is the only center in the state to undergo hemp trials, however, it is likely that other centers of research will soon join in according to university professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, Burton Johnson. He also stated that the DEA has allowed NDSU to begin starting trials many years ago but only now are the experiments possible.

“The DEA wanted us to have a security fence and lights and all kinds of expensive equipment. That just wasn’t feasible,” he stated.

Actually, North Dakota gave money back to the Agricultural Products Utilization Commission since the funds were unable to be used. North Dakota is just one of fifteen states that have established some type of law allowing an industrial hemp program in the United States. Here are the types of plants that were planted during the summer: six Canadian varieties, five French varieties, and one Australian variety. The office

“The Canadian varieties look really good,” Hanson reported. “But we did have issues with emergence.”

They planted the crops in late May and began harvesting in the third week in August. The results are unclear, but according to Johnson, “they can harvest hemp for seed yield and biomass fiber yield or it can be harvested for both.”

“Some of these varieties reached 8 feet tall, taller than the corn at Langdon,” stated Johnson. “The taller varieties were 1.8-2.5 meters in height nine weeks after planting (around July 16th).”

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Many were excited for the growth of hemp this year, since it’s the first time that they may legally grow the crop in seven decades, however, they have been incredibly disappointed and even reconsidering involvement. “Legal red tape” put a hiatus on the delivery of seeds and limited what they were able to do with the crops this year. Two participants, Wayne Smith and Randall Ledford, felt as if “they financed Tennessee’s industrial hemp experiment.”

Smith ended up receiving his orders from the state in June. Finally, he planted three pounds in an area on his farm. More recently, he cultivated ten pounds of seeds this month, however, he claims he would have produced much more if he had received the crops in April because that is $254 for a growing permit and was offered “70 cents per pound for his raw seeds, a total of $7.”

Here’s what he had to say: “I’m still pretty floored. I’m going to use the harvested seed to make oil and maybe sell it as a novelty item.”

Leford planted 27.5 pounds of seeds that he ordered from the state. He ended up harvesting 42 pounds and said that he had high hopes for his plants, at 7.5 feet, and being the tallest in the state. “Everybody’s so depressed,” he stated. “Unless something drastic happens, there’s no way I’ll do it again next year. There are just too many regulations, too much B-S.”

Let’s take a look at some reasons as to why he was so upset. Initially, none of the seeds he harvested were able to leave his property unless he takes the 70-cent deal. Ledford claims that he spoke to a couple of consumers, but would face “federal federal drug trafficking charges if he transports the seeds out of the state.” Ledford also needed to pay for two inspections of his plants, ($35 per hour) which implemented travel time. In addition to that, he had to pay $175 for each lab test to make sure he was not cultivating marijuana.

According to, Corinne Gould – Director of Communications for the Department of Agriculture – Tennessee is still gathering data and feedback from the pilot program farmers. All of this data is expected to report in November.

“Anecdotally, like the other crops in Tennessee, growers have had varying degrees of success,” she stated. “We’ve seen variation according to location, some areas have been dry, some wet, and we’ve also seen variation among individual producers.”

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