Farmers share progress on Indiana hemp crop

Indiana News

FAYETTE COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — News 8 on Tuesday got a look at hemp being grown on Indiana farms.

State law will change July 1, and the door will open for Hoosier farmers to grow and produce hemp in the state.

Hemp plants look like marijuana plants. Hemp will not get you high, though. The hemp News 8 saw will be used for fiber to make things such as clothes or car parts.

For 12 years, Kenneth Klabunde’s family has worked the land, but it’s their first time growing hemp. 
It is legal because they’re growing under Purdue University’s hemp license.

“It’s been prohibited for what, 70 years? So, it’s great to see a crop that was ubiquitous across the U.S. reintroduced on Indiana farmland.” Klabunde said. “I think it’s going to be a win for family farmers. It’s going to be a win for consumers and it’s going ot be a win for industry in Indiana.” 

From two to three months after being planted, the fiber hemp will be more than 10 feet tall and ready for harvest. 

“This is used for, last I’ve seen, thousands of different products,” Klabundee said.

But before the hemp can become something else, it must be healthy. 

“We need to visit each of these fields.” Jamie Petty with the Midwest Hemp Council said. “Make sure it’s progressing. Make sure farmers have the tools and information they need. This is a new crop. Despite what people may think, you don’t just grow it in the ground and it grows.”

Purdue University Extension hemp specialist Marguerite Bolt on Tuesday visited Klabunde’s farm about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis to meet with him and other farmers to see how the plants are doing … and to learn. 

Purdue has already learned a bit from Kentucky and other hemp-growing states. “We’ve learned, especially from the research that we’ve done at Purdue as well, that hemp doesn’t grow well when we get a lot of rainfall,” Bolt said. “It’s susceptible to insects and pathogens and weeds just like any other crop. We’re kind of advising it’s not a miracle crop.” 

Marty Mahan, a farmer who sits on the board of directors with the Indiana Farmers Union, said, “It’s exciting that these folks are going to have the opportunity to get their hands on it and to experiment with it.”

Bolt said farmers who want to grow hemp indoors or outdoors can apply for a license with the state beginning in December. 

According to Marguerite Bolt with the Purdue University Hemp Project, discussed the licenses.

“I just want to make it clear that all the licenses for this year (2019) are research licenses and people in obtaining indoor licenses for 2019 would still be considered research licenses,” Bolt said. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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