Kentucky company makes history with first certified hemp seed grown in the U.S. in decades


Sara Tiradossi

Schiavi Seeds, a Lexington Company, has produced the first certified hemp seed in the Commonwealth since the 1930s.

“It’s time for the U.S. to catch up and be a leader like they’ve always been,” Andrea Schiavi, owner of Schiavi Seeds LLC, said.

“I’m hopeful that hemp can be a positive contribution to Kentucky agriculture,” David Williams, professor at the University of Kentucky and industrial hemp researcher, said. “It’s supply and demand just like everything else. So if the demand is high, supply will increase at accommodate that. We just can’t know today what the ultimate demand will be.”

The American hemp supply is currently imported because there isn’t commercial industrial hemp production in the U.S.

“Right now, it’s all certified, but it’s all imported and so mostly from Europe but also from Canada. Clearly imported seed will be far more expensive than domestically produced seed and the cost of seed has a direct impact on the profitability of the crop, no matter what you are growing it for. So domestic seed will be key to profitability for farmers,” Williams said.

Schiavi, who moved to Kentucky in 2004, believes the emerging opportunity of hemp seed is significantly growing. For several years now, Schiavi Seeds has played a major role in the North American market and has helped various state Departments of Agriculture and universities (University of Kentucky, Virginia Teach, VSU and Cornell University) to secure European hemp seeds.

This year, Schiavi said Lexington Company produced almost 120,000 pounds of seeds in Kentucky and in a couple of years, he thinks the company will be independent.

“I do believe we can be leading in seed supply on U.S. grown certified seeds in the U.S. in a short time,” he said