Why Central Kentucky?
History of Hemp in America
“I am very glad to hear that the gardener has saved so much of the st. foin seed, and that of the india hemp. Make the most you can of both, by sowing them again in drills. The hemp may be sown anywhere.” — George Washington, in a letter to William Pearce, Feb. 24, 1794
Hemp seed and fiber once played a vital role in America. It was such an important crop that in 1619, the Virginia Assembly passed legislation making it illegal for farmers not to grow hemp. Founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were also big fans; they grew hemp. Henry Ford actually made a car out of hemp.
History of Hemp in Central Kentucky
Hemp has a long history in Central Kentucky. The temperature, humidity, rainfall and soils of Central Kentucky are ideal for growing hemp. From its first recorded planting near Danville on Clark’s Run Creek in 1775 to its reemergence during World War II, hemp has figured prominently in the economic, social, and political life of the region.
Kentucky was the greatest producer of hemp in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries, when it was the source of 75% of U.S. hemp fiber. Production reached a peak in 1917 at 18,000 acres, mostly grown in the Bluegrass region of Central Kentucky. A Federal program to reintroduce hemp for wartime needs in Kentucky and other states during World War II reached 52,000 acres in Kentucky in 1943.
Early settlers brought hemp into Kentucky in order to have a resource for textile production. The largest use of hemp was in making rope and the woven bagging that bundled cotton bales. Ropewalks turned out thousands of yards of hemp cordage, and factory looms in Lexington, Danville, and Frankfort wove the bagging. Another significant consumer of Kentucky hemp was the United States Navy, which used the rope for ships’ rigging.
The counties that have historically produced the most hemp are located in the “bluegrass region” and were either near or along the Kentucky River. Fayette, Woodford, Shelby, Clark, Scott, Bourbon, Jessamine, Mason, Franklin, Boyle and Lincoln proved to be the largest hemp-producing counties during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Why is Hemp a Crop With a Ton of Potential?
Hemp is a crop with a ton of potential. Hemp is the Swiss Army Knife of plants, boasting a wide array of uses within its thick fibers. Currently used in over 25,000 products globally, industrial hemp-based goods include automotive parts, furniture, textiles, food, beverages, beauty products, construction supplies, fuel and biopharmaceuticals.
Countries all around the world are benefiting from hemp economies, including China, Canada, Germany and Australia. Most hemp fiber for textiles is grown in China and Europe, with China in the lead. Since 2004, German-based automaker BMW has been using hemp-based composite door panels in their 3 and 5 series vehicles. A Canadian company Hempearth has recently pioneered the world’s first hemp-powered airplane. This plane is fully powered by hemp oil, emitting far fewer toxins into the atmosphere and eliminating the need for fossil fuels to power the flight. Hemp makes up at least a portion of each major component of the plane — the wings, the seats, even the plane’s structure is infused with hemp. Hemp can hold nearly twice the weight of steel without breaking and can withstand the bends that come with air travel, making it stronger than steel.
As a plant, hemp is resilient, independent and can thrive in a variety of environments, wet or dry. Unlike cotton it doesn't need to be pampered with lots of herbicides, pesticides and daily water. Give it some soil, a bit of sun and rain, and hemp will grow like the weed that it is, giving the cultivator its bountiful yield. Hemp strains for fiber can take as few as 60 days to reach full growth, making it a great rotation crop.
Why Hemp Rich in Cannabidiol? (CBD)
Much of the hemp being grown right now is rich in cannabidiol (CBD). Touted as a popular wellness product appearing in an ever-expanding amount of goods, this year CBD was also cleared by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration to be used in a product called Epidiolex, an effective anti-seizure medication. According to research firm Brightfield Group, the legal market for CBD could balloon to $20 billion by 2022, reports Bloomberg.
CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep. CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain.