From an article published in the Park City Daily News, the first hemp crop in Kentucky to be grown under the new pilot program has been harvested. You can read more about it here. From the article, “Student volunteers and staff at Western Kentucky University began harvesting the university’s first hemp crop Thursday…”
“A provision in the federal Agricultural Act of 2014 allowed state agriculture departments and institutions of higher learning to grow industrial hemp as part of pilot programs to study hemp growth and marketing. WKU is one of a number of state universities that have grown hemp this year.
Before that act was signed into law, Kentucky passed Senate Bill 50 in 2013 to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp. The bill set up a framework for cultivation if it were to become legal on the federal level. It became law without Gov. Steve Beshear’s signature.”
Details of how the harvested the crop can also be found in the article, “Volunteers cut the hemp by hand Thursday.
It will later be shocked and left in the field, said Paul Woosley, an assistant professor in the WKU Agriculture Department. Exposure to the elements will help to separate the fiber of the plant. The process is called retting.”
“We’re doing it the old-fashioned way,” he said.
Part of developing hemp as a commercial crop in North America is determining which types of plants will do best in each climate and developing seed supply based on the best adapted types. To this end, the study involved planting 13 different types of hemp. Further details of the study tell us that, “The hemp harvested Thursday will be used to collect data on fiber production of the crop and optimum nitrogen levels needed to grow it. Another set of hemp plants will be harvested later to collect data on seed production…The data gathered at WKU will help to determine which seeds and fertilization rates are most successful with the type of soil common in the area”
Commercial Hemp production is one step closer to being a vital part of the agricultural economy of the USA with this harvest. Congratulations to the team at Western Kentucky University.