Oklahoma Farmers Eager To Grow Hemp
OCHELATA, Oklahoma - Oklahoma farmers are just weeks away from being able to plant hemp legally for the first time in eight decades.
Some farmers predict it will boost the state's economy.
The Department of Agriculture is still deciding on the rules and regulations of hemp seed.
Those decisions are expected to be made in the next few weeks and once that happens, Oklahoma farmers can start planting.
In a just a few weeks, Jon Kelley will be planting thousands of hemp seeds.
"Hemp is … it comes from the Cannabis family it is a sister plant to marijuana but they are two totally separate plants," said Kelley. "It's almost like a bamboo. It grows 14, 15 feet tall if you let it and it is harvested just like a hay crop."
There are more than 25,000 different products that can be made with industrial hemp including clothing, plastics, and insulation.
The crop can also be used for medical purposes.
"It's an alternative crop to grow other than wheat, soybeans or corn. We need alternative crops that we can turn into, make a better income as a farmer," said Kelley.
House Bill 2913 set up a pilot program for industrialized hemp that will last a year or two.
During that time, farmers who have a permit and use certified seed from the state can legally grow hemp and the process is highly regulated.
The law, signed by Governor Mary Fallin last month, requires farmers to have university oversight to make sure the crops are grown properly.
"Oklahoma through their House Bill 2913 set up language that we have to have it sold, have to have the letter of intent for someone to buy it," said Kelley.
It's a new chapter for Oklahoma farmers and Kelley said he is excited to get more people involved.
"I really hope that Oklahoma by the third year could surpass Kentucky, Colorado, and Nevada as the largest state putting acres of hemp in," said Kelley.
Kelley is hoping to have hemp seeds planted by mid-June.
For more info, visit the "It’s Grow Time" Facebook page. It's is a page dedicated to helping farmers and growers alike cultivate and market Industrial Hemp products.