AUGUSTA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas hemp processing companies are taking the approach “if you build it, they will come.”

“I think industrial hemp is headed in the right direction on the fiber and grain side,” said Sarah Stephens with Midwest Hemp Technology of Augusta.

Stephens says interest in growing hemp in Kansas for oils has dropped. In fact, new license requests for growing hemp for oil has come down dramatically in Kansas since the crop was legalized for growing in 2019.

“But the fiber side just has so many benefits. We are showing a lot of interest,” said Stephens. “The seed that we grow is high protein, high in fiber, and it’s a complete source of nutrition. It has a lot of health food benefits.”

Stephens says farmers are interested in expanding hemp production on the fiber and seed side of the business.

Gick Fleming of Leon is in his third year growing hemp for fiber. His crop will be processed and sold out of Midwest Hemp Technologies.

“Well, I think that’s why we’re trying. We think there’s a future in it,” said Fleming. “I think the opportunity is still there. That’s why we’re still at it, so to speak. And we’ve tried other alternate crops, but I’m most hopeful that hemp has a future.”

Fleming says Kansas is normally considered a row crop state for things like corn, wheat and soybeans. But he also says there is room for new crops.

At Midwest Hemp Technologies, they say the transition from traditional crops like corn and wheat to hemp can be a relatively easy switch when considering farm equipment already in use.

“We’re putting seeds in the ground in a row crop,” said Stephens. “So any farmer that is normally planting wheat or corn or soybeans is already going to have the equipment that they need.”

Stephens says hemp fiber is very strong and is being put to use in things like hemp “crete” concrete. Universities are doing test markets for hemp uses in building materials and even insulation.

“There’s just so many applications,” said Stephens. “We think this crop has a very bright future.”

Stephens says a group also has a hemp-based home built with sturdy hemp materials at the state fair this weekend if you want to check out one of the hemp projects.

“It’s a fledgling crop, and we’re kind of excited to be a part of it,” said Fleming.