LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - David Williams is a walking encyclopedia on hemp production in Kentucky. He's a professor at the University of Kentucky and an industrial hemp researcher. His attention was peaked when Schiavi Seeds, a Lexington company, produced the first certified hemp seeds grown in the Commonwealth since the 1930s.
Over 200 people attended the 2017 UK Industrial Hemp Field Day held at the UK North Farm.
"I'm hopeful that hemp can be a positive contribution to Kentucky agriculture," he told WKYT's Miranda Combs. "It's supply and demand just like everything else," he explained. "So if the demand is high, supply will increase at accommodate that. We just can't know today what the ultimate demand will be."
"It's time for the US to catch up and be a leader like they've always been," explained Schiavi Seeds Owner Andrea Schiavi.
Right now, the American hemp supply is imported because there is no commercial industrial hemp production in the United States. "Right now it's all certified, but it's all imported and so mostly from Europe but also from Canada. Clearly imported seed will be far more expensive than domestically produced seed and the cost of seed has a direct impact on the profitability of the crop, no matter what you are growing it for. So domestic seed will be key to profitability for farmers," explained Williams.
This year, Schiavi said they did almost 120,000 pounds of seeds in Kentucky. He thinks in just a couple of years, they'll be independent. "I do think we can be leading in seed supply on US grown certified seeds in the US in a short time."