A handful of hemp seeds that will be planted on a farm in Sterling. (Kristen Wyatt, Assocated Press file)

Colorado farmers who want to grow hemp can now register year-round

Farmers who missed the deadline to register to legally grow industrial hemp in Colorado are getting another chance.

The Commissioner of Agriculture, John Salazar, signed an emergency rule, effective Wednesday, to open the registration process again. The rule change was prompted by a bill that the legislature passed this year and that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law recently.

“In order to conform our rules with the new law, we had to eliminate that deadline,” said Ron Carleton, deputy commissioner for the Department of Agriculture.

Now farmers just have to register their hemp crop 30 days before planting.

Senate Bill 184 made various changes to the registration process, also requiring growers to give the department a month instead of a week to plan inspections.

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The new rules will require applicants to provide a proposed harvest date.

Initially, residents interested in growing hemp had until May 1 to register with the Department of Agriculture. The process requires that applicants say whether their crop will be for commercial or research purposes, and a fee was charged based on how many acres are being planted.

Final counts from the May 1 deadline show 1,543 acres across the state were approved to grow hemp this year. According to the department, 1,309 of those acres were designated for commercial purposes, while 234 acres were registered for research and development.

Yesenia Robles: 303-954-1372, yrobles@denverpost.com or twitter.com/yeseniarobles

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