Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 8:10 pm | Updated: 11:11 pm, Wed Sep 17, 2014.
It’s been a little over three months since the county’s first hemp crops in 50 years was quietly planted at Jeff Davis’ farm in Pembroke and Rachel McCubbin’s llama farm in northern Christian County.
The state’s first pilot plots were planted in May in select locations throughout the state after the federal farm bill gave states that legalize industrial hemp permission to research the viability of industrial hemp.
Until then, growing hemp had been illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act because it contains trace amounts of THC. THC is a hallucinogenic ingredient found in higher doses in the plant’s more potent cousin marijuana.
“You see how much money used to be going through these old Kentucky towns,” Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission member Katie Moyer said. “They weren’t just growing tobacco. They were growing hemp.”
When Italian seeds bound for Christian County and other pilot plots were held up in Louisville by the Drug Enforcement Agency, a brief legal battle between the DEA and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture ensued before the seeds were finally released. About half an acre was planted at each Christian County plot and since then, the plants have shot up, towering at least 10 feet high at Davis’ farm.
Last week, Davis cut half his pilot plot down with a sickle mower to dry it out before harvest, and Wednesday, Moyer inspected the crop to prep for the harvest of its seed and fibers. McCubbin’s plot wasn’t as successful.
“More than 130 years ago they were using it, so if they could figure it out then we should be able to figure it out now,” Moyer said.
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