Kentucky is ramping up its industrial hemp pilot projects this year to build on the research of the past two years, positioning Kentucky to develop a robust research program.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has authorized planting of nearly 4,500 acres of hemp for pilot projects this year, compared with about 900 acres of hemp production last year and 33 acres in 2014, the first year of pilot projects. Since 2015, the number of university-led research projects has more than doubled, with the scope of research expanding beyond production research into hemp utilization. The KDA is offering multi-year partnerships with processors in order to develop meaningful data on processing and marketing.
The pilot projects are intended to research the feasibility of industrial hemp in Kentucky from seed to market. Projects will study production techniques, seed varieties, processing, and potential products that could be brought to market quickly.