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KY: Growing Season Begins For Mason Hemp Crop

Robert Celt

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May's Lick farmer Joe Collins addressed the Maysville Rotary Club Tuesday, providing members with information on his experimental 5-acre test plot of industrial hemp at his Mason County farm.

The venture, if successful, will be an alternative cash crop to tobacco that Collins' family has grown for decades. He currently leases out some tobacco and maintains a herd of beef cattle as well as producing hay.

Collins was sure to make clear that what he is growing is industrial hemp, not to be confused with illegal hemp, also known as marijuana.

"Industrial hemp contains only 0.3 percent of THC (tetrahydrocannabinoids) while marijuana has anywhere from 5-10 percent of THC," said Collins.

Collins went on to explain the process of growing hemp.

"Growing tobacco and hemp are very similar. Seeds are planted in a greenhouse with plants later taken to the field for setting," he explained.

Collins doesn't have a greenhouse and has to actually plant the seeds in the prepared field with the help of a modified corn planter to space the rows of plants further apart. Hemp plants require a greater distance due to the bulky size of the plant.

"Since we didn't grow tobacco anymore, we sold off all of our setters and cultivators," Collins said. "Wished I had kept them."

Near the end of April, Collins had his first acre of hemp planted. This past weekend of heavy rain was a concern for his newly-planted crop.

"I wasn't sure how the plants would fare with 2 inches of rain. But they look like they did very well," he said.

Collins brought with him to the meeting Chad Wilson, a representative from Green Remedy of Louisville, a facility that processes hemp, to answer technical questions from member of the club.

Wilson also explained the many uses for the hemp oil. He said the oil can be used in textiles such as clothing and shoes and can also be used to make paper, building materials, industrial products and personal hygiene items such as soap and shampoo. The oil can also be used in the food industry and thousands of other things.

Two weeks before the hemp can be harvested, Joe Collins must notify the Kentucky Department of Agriculture so the THC content of his crop can be tested. If the plants aren't within the specified range, the entire crop will be destroyed.

After testing, the hemp will be harvested and taken to the barn for curing. This process should take several weeks. Collins said he plans on using his entire crop for harvest rather than just using the seed pods to derive the oil.

There are currently 179 growers of industrial hemp in Kentucky who were selected to participate in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Pilot Hemp Program. Collins is the only one from Mason County.


News Moderator: Robert Celt 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: KY: Growing Season Begins For Mason Hemp Crop
Author: Terry Prather
Contact: Ledger Independent
Photo Credit: Terry Prather
Website: Ledger Independent
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