DAVIESS COUNTY, Ky. (WEHT) Farmers across the Tri-State continue harvesting crops, but some in Kentucky are harvesting industrial hemp for the first time.
More than two dozen Daviess County farmers are among the newest growers in the Commonwealth.
Among the fields full of wheat and soybeans are smaller fields of a crop that’s becoming a bigger presence in Kentucky.
“It’s been a learning process. It’s day-to-day, you learn something everyday,” says Lynn Ebelhar, who is harvesting industrial hemp for the first time.
“Started off with a wet spring, and it’s dried up. It’s been dry ever since. It’s been pretty good ever since,” adds Ben Alvey, another first time grower. “I was hoping to average about a pound a plant. We’re going to be real close to that. CBD levels, I was hoping to be at 12%, and I think we’re going to be close to that.”
He says he’s learning more from this first experience.
“How long the plant takes to mature, what levels you’re looking for of the certain terpenes in the plant you are looking for,” Alvey says.
Some farmers say growing season is good so far, but some farmers had to cull some plants. Clint Hardy of the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Office says 27 farmers across the county are growing industrial hemp for the first time. One other farmer started before this year. Future growth depends on the economic climate.
“If these 28 farms and all the others are profitable in their production this year and they’re still in room in supply chain for their product, then there will be more farms increase acreage to meet demand,” Hardy says.
There are several things they have to look out for as the industrial hemp is growing, including making sure providers give them the right seeds and THC levels. Farmers have to keep those levels below .03 for the crop to be processed.
“You really need to get a good seed supplier. It all starts with the seed. If you have a bad seed to start with, you’re not going to do very good,” says Ebelhar.
(This story was originally published on September 30, 2019)