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Murray State Harvests Its First Hemp Crop While Farmers Wait For Regulations to Change

Some area farmers are ready to plant industrial hemp after learning more at a bioenergy event at Murray State University today.

As the university harvested its first industrial hemp product, some farmers like David Vowell in Graves County are more than ready to plant the crop themselves.

“We are ready as soon as the legislation that allows it to be grown,” he said. “You can tell it’s something we need to have.”

Currently the hemp can only be grown for research purposes, until federal regulations change.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Adam Watson explains the crop’s revenue potential.

“When looking at grain it’s competitive with other grain crops or better. Fiber would be similar,” Watson said. “The highest yield per acre economically would be CBD oil production. It would be similar or competitive to tobacco, but again it does depend on markets and that can change.”

CBD stands for cannabidiol and the oil can be used as medicine. Some other uses for industrial hemp include fuel, clothing, plastics and paper. Murray State’s hemp will be used as horse bedding and as fuel to heat it’s equine center.

Murray State School of Agriculture Dean Tony Brannon said the school plans to continue research during the next year. The report for this year’s project will go to the state by July 2015.

“It’s gone really well. We’ve learned a lot of things to do and a lot of things not to do and that’s the same way with any research, particularly on a crop that hasn’t been grown since the 1930s,” Brannon said. “The methods used back in the 1930s have certainly changed to 2014.”

He said the crop did best in no-till soil and 30 inch rows.

Whitney grew up listening to Car Talk to and from her family’s beach vacation each year, but it wasn’t until a friend introduced her to This American Life that radio really grabbed her attention. She is a recent graduate from Union University in Jackson, Tenn., where she studied journalism. When she’s not at WKMS, you can find her working on her backyard compost pile and garden, getting lost on her bicycle or crocheting one massive blanket.