By LESLIE EIKLEBERRY
Over the years, industrial hemp has gotten a bad rap because of its cousin, marijuana. While marijuana is still illegal in many states, including Kansas, industrial hemp is not.
Production of industrial hemp in Kansas began in 2019, with 2,782 acres planted and 1,831 acres harvested, according to information from the Kansas Department of Agriculture. In 2020, 3,968 acres of industrial hemp were planted, while only 761 acres were harvested. According to reporting by Brian Grimmett for the Kansas News Service, an eighth of the 2020 crop "had to be burned by the state because it contained too much of the psychoactive chemical THC."
This year, only 481 acres were planted, the Kansas Department of Agriculture noted. Harvesting statistics for 2021 are not yet available.
Additionally, in 2019 and 2020, planted acres were predominantly (approximately 90%) for floral/CBD production. In 2021, only 22% of the planted acres in 2021 were for floral/CBD production; grain/fiber was 21%, seed/grain was 40%, fiber was 17%, according to information provided to Salina Post by the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
So why grow industrial hemp?
"Hemp fibers are being used to weave into baskets, make prosthetics as well as sunglass frames and houses. Hemp plastics are a renewable and responsible way to replace oil-based plastics," Peggy DeBey, co-owner of The Flower Nook, told Salina Post.
The Flower Nook recently introduced a line of products made by from industrial hemp. The products, made by Hemp3D, include board games, sunglasses, bottle openers, rolling boards, and jewelry.
According to the Hemp3D website, "Hemp fibers are some of the longest, strongest, and most durable of all natural fibers and possess many desirable mechanical properties including high impact and flexural strength."
DeBey said she learned about industrial hemp and Hemp3D after a product convention by South Bend Industrial Hemp in Great Bend.
"I knew I wanted to introduce this product to the community. I made several calls to the owners of the Hemp3d company, from Steward, Neb., expressing an interest in the product and the creative process involved," DeBey said. "I learned hemp can be transformed in filament to be used for 3D printing. The product is biodegradable, recyclable and free from toxins, plus has a higher impact resistance than regular plastic."