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Hemp harvest in full swing

CRAB ORCHARD – Hemp harvest is in full swing in Lincoln County and across the state.

Local farmer Gary Dodson spent most of last week harvesting his first hemp crop on William Whitley Road.

Gary and Rhonda Dodson planted about 10 acres of hemp this year, with an expected yield of about 15,000 plants, he said.

Like so many farmers across the state, Dodson said he decided to make the switch from tobacco to hemp.

According to The Kentucky Department of Agriculture, 1,035 applications to grow a total of 42,086 acres of hemp were approved this year, a big increase from the 16,100 acres approved in 2018.

Earlier this year, the Lincoln County Fiscal Court also approved a zone change for the county’s first hemp processing plant, Modern Crop.

Dodson said it would take a few days to cut the crop from the field and hang it to dry in the barn. Once dry, he said the stalks will be stripped and the contents put in totes to be sold.

Despite the lack of rain, Dodson said the crop did very well this year.

While the weather didn’t have much of a negative impact on his harvest, Dodson did run into a problem with thieves attempting to steal his crop.

In total, Dodson said about 35 plants were stolen from his field. He’s not sure what the thieves had in mind for the plants, but it prompted the farmer to put up a new video surveillance system.

Dodson said the cameras have been a big help in deterring the hemp thieves.

After this year’s successful harvest, Dodson said he thinks he’ll continue to grow hemp in the future.