Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Ben Goff


This experiment examined the forage potential of hemp (Cannabis sativa) and kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus). The objectives were to evaluate yield and forage nutritive value (i.e. NDF, ADF, ADL, IVTD, and CP) fluctuations over the course of a growing season based on planting date, morphological composition, and management. Three types of hemp (grain, fiber, and a dual- purpose type) and kenaf were planted on two dates and were sampled approximately every two weeks throughout the growing season at the University of Kentucky (UK) Research Farm in Lexington, KY. Subsamples were separated into morphological components (i.e. leaf, flowers, stem, core fiber, and bast fiber) while the remainder of the sample was ground for laboratory analysis. All samples were scanned in Foss 6500 NIRS and wet chemistry analytical methods were utilized on a subset of samples to develop equations to predict the nutritive value of the remaining samples. Significant interactions for forage type, planting date, and harvest time were observed for yield, % floral components, % bast, and ADL. Significant interactions occurred between planting date and harvest date as well as type and harvest date for NDF, ADF, digestibility, crude protein, % leaf, % core, and % stem. Overall, forage nutritive value declined with increased plant maturity. The later planting date reduced the vegetative growth period, resulting in reduced leaf content, yield, and forage nutritive value. The performance of kenaf in this study indicates that it may be a better alternative forage than hemp due to remaining vegetative longer and having superior nutritive value. Better selection and the development of new hemp varieties with different photoperiod requirements could lengthen the vegetative state and may result in yields and nutritive values that are more competitive with kenaf and other typical forages.

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