Licensing Applications to Grow Industrial Hemp Up in Kansas

09:50AM Jan 28, 2020
K-State Research and Extension specialists will begin growing and harvesting small, highly controlled plots of industrial hemp at research facilities around the state this year, much like the plot in this file photo from the University of Kentucky.
( Matt Barton, University of Kentucky Ag Communications )

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Interest in growing industrial hemp as a commercial crop is up in Kansas where regulators are reporting a 30% rise in licensing applications for the second year of the state's research program.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture received 276 grower applications for the 2020 season, up from just over 200 in the first year of a period devoted to researching production options, The Salina Journal reported. There were also 23 applications from seed distributors, 35 from processors and seven by Kansas State University.

“This year, it’s certainly been a transitional year,” said Jeff Vogel, the agriculture department’s manager of plant protection and weed control program.

Opportunities to reintroduce industrial hemp in Kansas will be guided by U.S. Department of Agriculture mandates and Kansas agriculture department regulation, he said. USDA has yet to approve Kansas’ regulatory plan.

“We are working towards a commercial program,” Vogel said. “That program is not ready yet.”

Plants will be tested two weeks before harvested to guarantee farmers weren’t dabbling in controlled substances,

Of the 2019 crop, nine of 159 fields failed testing and had to be destroyed because of excessive levels of THC, psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the high sensation.