Updated: Jan 19, 2019
Here are some updates from the pilot project Kentucky Hempsters are working with in Shelbyville, Kentucky. This 30-acre hemp field was planted on June 16 and these photos were taken over the past couple weeks. This particular variety, Finola, is from Canada. It was not an ideal strain for this project, but it was what ended up being immediately available after another shipment of seed was held up in Chicago and eventually destroyed (courierjournal.com.)
(Shelbyville hemp plant - August 18, 2015)
Since this variety is acclimated to Canada, it's not well suited for our region. It did not help a majority of the projects, including this one, did not receive seed until mid-June, leaving farmers to plant in a hurry.
In addition to having seed-issues, Kentucky (along with a majority of the region) was hit with terrible weather for the entire months of June and July. In fact, July was considered one of the "wettest" months in history (kentucky.com). It seems as if farmers couldn't catch a break this year. Many projects were affected by the rain - from washouts to weed issues - the once projected 1,700 acres across the state has been now estimated at closer to 1,200.
(While the crop was well-established, weeds eventually began competing and in some places tower well over the hemp plants. August 18, 2015)
So far this project has taught us the importance of:
1) Proper genetics
2) Soil nutrition
3) Weed control
4) Harvesting equipment
5) Processing equipment
This is why this research is so important. It's the research happening now that will eventually lead to modern, innovative hemp cultivation methods and the development of an infrastructure essential for this industry to succeed.
Industrial hemp is still federally illegal, and that's still the number one barrier holding back any industry advancement. If passed, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act (HR. 525 and S. 134), would remove all federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp, and remove its classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.