Application deadline to grow industrial hemp approaches

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - If you’re interested in starting a hemp business, the time to apply for the 2020 growing season is coming up soon.

To become a 2020 industrial hemp grower in West Virginia, you’ll need to apply between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30.

The number of growers in the state has grown from 24 in 2017 to over 170 in 2019.

Wood County resident J. Morgan Leach, who secured the second license in the state, said to become part of the industrial hemp program, you need to have a plan ready for the Department of Agriculture.

“This is where I’m going to my seeds, this is how I’m going to grow my plants, this is how I’m going to harvest it and this is how I’m going to sell it." he said. "And there are some reporting requirements that go along with that. You’ve got to do some pre-background checks, a state and federal criminal background check.”

Leach said he thinks West Virginia farmers could use a cash crop and that industrial hemp could fill that role.

“Producing this plant for CBD is kind of the green rush, if you will, in that, there’s certainly the opportunity for farmers to make money on this now,” Leach said.

Leach also said that we should be looking into other uses for hemp, outside of pharmaceuticals.

“We do have to look to the future," he said."What else are we going to produce hemp for that has a viable market? I think fiber production could come back into play. There are new technologies that use the fiber. Hemp has a unique fiber content that lends itself well to certain products."