Kentucky began with Hemp

Kentucky and Hemp go back a long way. Some of the earliest printed documentation on the state referred to it being a land of hemp. Daniel Boone’s earliest adventures took him through the many lush locations that would produce the crop. Some historians have argued that hemp is what helped push through Kentucky’s rise to statehood. But, why did hemp take off in the Bluegrass?

Kentucky’s first crops

Kentucky’s first hemp crop was grown in 1775. The site of this development was near Danville, but it didn’t take long before hemp took over the Bluegrass. The crop took less time to yield results and even the smallest owner of land could make a profit with the material. So, what made it take off in Kentucky?

KY Hemp History

It all started on a farm in Ashland. A young politician named Henry Clay rose through the political ranks to Washington, DC. Senator Henry Clay ended up developing the American system as a way to take hemp to the international masses. All American naval ships were pushed to require American hemp for their riggings. When the US Navy was slow to oblige, Clay took the media to browbeat military officials. It didn’t hurt that Clay was a huge hemp producer in his native state.  

By the 19th century, Kentucky became America’s leading hemp producer. Production peaked at 40,000 tons in 1850. While that seems like a paltry amount when compared to modern agricultural production, it must be remembered that this was done by manual labor. In fact, these same early generations of farmers can be directly traced to the farmers now producing Ananda Hemp.

Hemp for Victory

While American Prohibition began in the 1930s, the US Government still implored Kentuckians to grow hemp for the Allied Forces in World War II. The program reached 52,000 acres across the country. For a fun look at the past, check out the USDA wartime propaganda short “Hemp for Victory”.

The modern era has seen hemp farming return to Kentucky following the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.  While under the careful watch of the Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture, new businesses are emerging to support the growing hemp industry. Whether it’s seed banks, hemp oil extraction or online sales; hemp is booming again.