FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky's agriculture commissioner is predicting record numbers of hemp growers and processors in 2018 as the experimental crop's supporters look to strengthen its foothold.
The state's agriculture department said Tuesday it approved 225 applications from growers to produce up to 12,018 acres of hemp for research purposes this year.
Last year, 209 growers were approved to plant up to 12,800 acres.
Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles predicts this will be the biggest year in terms of the number of hemp growers and processors and the number of acres planted.
He says last year's approved acreage total was skewed when one prospective producer didn't follow through on plans to plant several thousand acres of hemp.
Last year, Kentucky's farmers planted more than 3,200 acres of hemp, up from 2,350 acres in 2016.