The Comeback Crop? -

David Garey walked through his Paris hemp field and rubbed the sticky resin from the rich green leaves onto his fingertips. He noted that the plants in his cannabidiol (CBD) crop were shorter and wider this year than they were in his inaugural hemp crop last year. 

“We’re still learning … That’s about all you can say,” Garey said about the fine-tuning process his farm is undergoing with industrial hemp. “Growing it is not the problem. Farmers can figure out how to grow it relatively easy, but there is no market. The market has to be developed. There is no industry at this point.”

Developing an industry for hemp seems like a new thing for Kentucky. But it’s actually not new, only making a return. 

Kentucky’s first hemp crop was planted and harvested in 1775. The Commonwealth soon led the nation in hemp production and hit a peak of 40,000 tons in 1850, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Almost all of the nation’s industrial hemp was grown in the Bluegrass region when nationwide production declined after the Civil War.


Kate Paulley