Increasing Industrial Hemp Acreage for Fiber and Grain with Planting Best Practices & Recommendations

Final report for ONC22-105

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2022: $40,000.00
Projected End Date: 04/28/2023
Grant Recipient: KS Hemp Consortium
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Sarah Stephens
KS Hemp Consortium
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Project Information


The 2021 season was full of challenges for Kansas hemp farmers. The KHC research group tested six hemp varieties across various soil types, planting techniques and growing conditions in 2021. Wading through significant crop failure, this season allowed the group to narrow in on best planting and production techniques.

Among the farmers collaborating with KHC in 2021, only 33% had ever grown any variety of hemp in the past. The KHC research group learned some difficult lessons on weed control. We better understand what works and are attempting to scale successful practices. Timing is important and early cultivation is critical. In 2022, we are ready to implement best practices learned for field preparation, weed control, pre and post emergence intervention, harvesting and drying.

Seed sourcing research also builds on 2021 results. Armed with new understanding, hemp production can grow and expand in the 2022 season. Following a full analysis of the 2021 season, field preparation and planting guides will be distributed. In-field preparations are followed by planting in early April. Data collected in 2022 will include: genetics, planting dates and techniques, precipitation, fertilization, pest pressure, weed management, harvest techniques, yields and plant characteristics (height, stalk diameter, days to maturation).

Project Objectives:

Objective: Build on and expand industrial hemp research with support for farmers growing in 2022;
● source genetics
● provide licensing and regulatory guidance
● liaison on behalf of growers with KDA, USDA, other regulators
● share lessons learned in 2021 on field preparation, planting, fertilization, pest control, irrigation, harvest
● increase research acres to 200, collect data regarding inputs and outcomes
● promote industrial hemp with education initiatives that increase successful production throughout the region
● host 4 free, virtual hemp conferences in collaboration with Kansans for Hemp, WSU-SBDC
● host hemp field tour
● connect licensed hemp producers regionally with best practices and community support


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • James Garman - Technical Advisor (Researcher)
  • Gick Fleming (Researcher)


Materials and methods:

On farm research across 4 regions in the state of Kansas compared yield results and planting techniques with two varieties of grain-centric industrial hemp varieties. 

Research results and discussion:

When we narrowed down the variables in 2022, we saw more impacts from regional weather impacts. All acres were planted without irrigation in mid April. Producers selected from NWG 2730 or 2563. 

Variations in soil type and rainfall made major impacts on the outcome of the crop. Western Kansas producers had non-harvestable fields while central Kansas production had moderate success. The most successful field in these research trials was just outside Manhattan, KS where temperatures were more moderate and moisture was more prevalent. 

Generally, rates of success in 2022 were higher than 2021 where statewide acreage in Kansas reached it's low point since the program's inception in 2019. Increased knowledge and networking in the industry leads to better outcomes and yields for fiber and grain production. Close collaboration among advocates raised the profile of hemp fiber and grain production in Kansas.

Participation Summary
5 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

24 Consultations
3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
2 Journal articles
3 On-farm demonstrations
3 Online trainings
1 Published press articles, newsletters
5 Tours
4 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

12 Farmers participated
3 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

4th Annual KS Hemp Conference Q1 Webinar:

4th Annual KS Hemp Conference Q2 Webinar:

KS Hemp Field Day:

4th Annual KS Hemp Conference Q4 Webinar:

Hemp in construction collaboration with Kansas State University's School of Architecture:,

Learning Outcomes

10 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Key changes:
  • Planting best practices

  • Understanding genetics

  • Plant care and maintenance

  • Harvest techniques

  • Processing markets

Project Outcomes

10 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
4 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

Outcomes from the this research project, designed to increase industrial hemp acreage for fiber and grain with planting best practices and recommendations made a positive impact on the hemp industry in Kansas and the region. The state saw a slight increase in harvested acres in 2022 (560 acres, up from 419 acres in 2021) and regulation reforms that encourage grower participation are ongoing. 

Pulling stakeholders together through the webinars and field day was an important part of realizing this progress. These events opened up communication channels that strengthened relationships and invited interested outsiders to get involved. Working collaboratively with farmers and advocates across the state, the Kansas legislature introduced House Bill 2168. The bill language lowered license fees, established performance based testing and opened up animal feed markets for hemp grains. Hearings were heard in the Kansas House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee but a vote was not called. 

Ag committee chair Ken Rahjes instead committed to stakeholder discussions to iron out differences between regulators and the industry. The Kansas Department of Ag hosted the stakeholder meeting in mid-June and there regulators agreed to lower fees and establish performance based sampling for the 2024 season. Advocacy and education efforts continue to mount from the foundation established by this project.

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.