There is an interesting endeavor unfolding down the road at Morehead State University.
We are referring to the growth of hemp. At the Derrickson Agricultural Complex associate professor Brent Rogers works with students on a variety of hemp research projects.
“There is kind of three prongs to hemp research here in the state right now and it’s fiber, seed and CBD,” said Rogers. “What we are growing is used to extract what is called CBD’s, cannabidiols, used medicinally.”
Morehead State University began hemp research in 2017 and has focused on three projects: herbicide research, a fertility study and fungicide research.
Morehead State University is the only licensed grower in Rowan County, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s list of 2019 license holders. Students Dean and Todd Smith help maintain the field and gather experience working on the projects. Dean said they have been reaching out to local growers in other counties to collaborate on growing processes and techniques. The farm grows their hemp on plastic similar to a commercial vegetable operation.
“Not many people are doing it yet,” said Smith. “Most people that grew tobacco are just now kind of switching over to hemp.”
House Democratic Minority Leader Rocky Adkins is hopeful about the future of hemp for Kentucky farmers and said he hopes the growth of hemp will attract hemp manufacturers and bring jobs into the area.
“I think Kentucky has an unbelievable opportunity,” said Adkins. “The opportunity to be able to replace a cash crop like tobacco.”
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell deserves a lot of credit for the removal of hemp from the federal list of controlled substances. This, in turn, clears the way for Kentucky farmers to grow the product. We believe there is a lot of potential for adding a much-needed boost to Kentucky's agricultural sector through the cultivation of hemp. Hemp obviously is not the same as intoxicating marijuana. And, it can be grown in a mass production scale to be used in a lot of different types of products.
Hopefully, with time and wise policy measures, Kentuckians can reap the rewards of a change in federal policy. We also believe this 'new' crop can provided a much needed boost for rural agriculture including right here in Carter County.