More than 200 potential hemp growers, local farmers and interested parties came to the University of Kentucky's industrial hemp research field day at Spindletop Farm in Lexington on Thursday where the college of agriculture showcased several hemp projects under cultivation this year.
This is the second year in a row that agronomists in Kentucky have been growing what was once a staple crop for the state. Last year's test plots involved varieties used for fiber production. This year, UK agronomists David Williams and Rich Mundell are trying out types for fiber, grains and cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol used for food and dietary supplements.
"Our work has expanded greatly this year to include all three harvestable components of hemp," Williams said in a news release. "We are hoping to optimize grower profitability through these small plot studies."
The fiber projects will compare three varieties of hemp to flax and kenaf, with a variety of harvest methods.
Specific projects are conducted in conjunction with researchers at Murray State University, Western Kentucky University and Eastern Kentucky University.
Kentucky has been on the forefront of reviving the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States. While hemp is the same plant as marijuana, it has far lower levels of the active drug. Hemp can be grown legally in Kentucky with a license from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Marijuana is still illegal to grow.