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Industrial hemp advocates including Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer say Kentucky should look to its past as a top producer in the nation to show what the crop could do in the future.
Lexington was at the heart of production, with 18 rope and bagging factories in Lexington that employed 1,000 workers in 1838, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. And by growing hemp and turning the fibers into rope, Lexington's John Wesley Hunt became the first millionaire west of the Alleghenies.
Hemp was Kentucky's main cash drop until the Civil War, even more than tobacco, said James C. Klotter, state historian and history professor at Georgetown College.
Hemp could be produced on the same parcel of land without rotation since hemp was laid on the ground to rot, opening the stalks for a fibrous interior. Doing so returned nutrients to the soil.