CHARLESTON — The application period for the state’s industrial hemp program opened on Sept. 1 for the 2021 growing season.

Anyone interested in growing industrial hemp must apply by Oct. 31 to receive a license by the first of the year. Processor licenses may be submitted at any time, but are only valid until Dec. 31 of that year.

“We have seen tremendous growth within the hemp industry these last few years,” Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt said. “As the industry continues to develop, the Department is working to educate producers on best practices, as well as help develop industry standards. We look forward to another successful hemp season.”

The number of licensed industrial hemp growers in West Virginia jumped from 24 in 2017 to 305 in 2020. The producers who were granted a permit for the 2020 growing season planned on raising 2,531 acres of industrial hemp.

The next growing season will be the 4th for commercial harvest of industrial hemp.

“With new federal guidelines being implemented for the 2021 growing season, our farmers will see very little changes in how they have operated. This will give our producers a leg up as other states make adjustments,” Leonhardt said. “I am proud of the proactive approach lawmakers and the Department have taken thus far.”

The United States Department of Agriculture approved West Virginia’s industrial hemp plan earlier this year. The 2021 growing season will be the first year under that approved plan, as well as new federal guidelines issued by the USDA.

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