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Kansas hemp board hears 2023 update

Industrial hemp growers are finding their niches with fiber production, according to data.

Jennifer M. Latzke

January 12, 2024

3 Min Read
HEMP UPDATE: Kansas industrial hemp production is trending more toward fiber use over CBD use, according to KDA data. Diy13/Getty Images

Kansas hemp production has reached some growing pains, one might say.

On Dec. 20, the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Advisory Board, made up of seven members appointed by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, met via Zoom for an update on the 2023 crop.

Kansas is one of 42 states with a state hemp program and has been licensing for industrial hemp production and processing since 2019. Braden Hoch, plant protection and weed control area supervisor for the Kansas Department of Agriculture, led the meeting and shared some of the statistics that KDA has gathered since 2020.

In 2019, the state of Kansas issued 213 industrial hemp grower licenses, and that number grew to 218 licenses in 2020. But that number has dropped to 40 grower licenses in 2023.

“The large portion of those who did grow hemp grew hemp for either fiber, grain or seed purposes,” Hoch explained.

Just seven licensees were growing CBD or floral-type hemp.

Part of this constriction of growers might be due in part to the limited number of processor licenses that are found in the state. Currently, there are six CBD or chemical hemp processors and two fiber processors in Kansas as of September 2023, Hoch said.

He added that another fiber processor is located in the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, but the tribe is self-regulated within its borders.

It’s not just the number of growers that has decreased since the big boom of 2019-20. Planted acreage is down as well. According to KDA, growers planted only 814 acres of hemp in 2023, down from the high of 3,968 acres planted in 2020, and an 18% decrease in acreage planted from 2022.

USDA Farm Service Agency data shows that Kansas accounts for about 5% of the planted hemp acreage in the U.S.

Hemp was planted in 20 counties, with 15 counties harvesting, Hoch added. The majority of failed acres were attributed to problems with poor emergence and germination, weed pressure, and other production issues such as exposure to pesticides.

Fiber production

There has been continued interest in growing hemp in Kansas for fiber and grain production, with 71% of the planted acres in 2023 destined for fiber, Hoch said. USDA also accounts for any tribal acreage that’s planted, and it shows that including tribal acreage, 83% of hemp in Kansas was planted to fiber types.

This is a sharp change from 2019 and 2020, where upward of 90% of the acreage licensed in Kansas was planted to CBD or floral-type hemp.

When you look at the nationwide trends, Hoch said, 2019 was the peak of hemp acreage plantings, reaching 146,000 acres. In the four years since, there has been a sharp decline, with national planted acres down to only 22,900 acres.

Hoch attributed that drastic swing to the extreme initial interest in CBD or floral-type hemp, but then markets were unsustainable, and growers dropped out of that segment. Some of those growers have switched to growing fiber-type hemp, and that seems to be the trend going forward, he added.

“USDA reported this year about 50% of all planted hemp has been for the fiber type, and that’s an 11% increase since the previous year, and it’s trending upward,” Hoch said.

KDA is accepting 2024 industrial hemp producer license applications postmarked by March 15. Learn more at agriculture.ks.gov/industrialhemp.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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