Kentucky’s first legal hemp crop in more than half a century is in the ground.
Thirteen different varieties of hemp are being planted on the small plots about 1/100th of an acre in size. UK agronomist David Williams is the principle investigator for the trials.
"We're essentially conducting a standard variety trial, which is not unlike what you would see for corn and soy beans and wheat and all of the other commodities that are produced on a large scale in Kentucky," he says.
Getting access to the seeds proved to be challenging for Kentucky officials, who went to court to demand their release. The pushed the planting back a couple weeks, pitting growers against the clock. Williams says Kentucky is at the tail-end of planting season and ideally, the experimental crop would have gone into the ground earlier.
"We may have to take some of this information with a grain of salt. It will depend a great deal on the weather from here on out. It is a photo sensitive plant and so its maturity is guided as much or more by day length than it is by temperature or moisture or some other factor," he notes.
The plants will be harvested and examined in October. The pilot project is one of a number taking place across the state.