FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky agriculture officials say the application period has opened for people wanting to participate next year in the state's hemp research pilot program.

State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says his goal is to expand and strengthen the pilot program to put hemp on a path toward commercialization.

This year, Kentucky's farmers planted 3,200 acres of hemp, up from 2,350 acres in 2016 and 922 acres in 2015. Just 33 acres of hemp were planted in 2014, the program's first year. Agriculture officials say the program has attracted 194 grower participants and 48 hemp processors.

Applications may be downloaded from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture website at kyagr.com/hemp. Grower applications must be postmarked or received by Nov. 15. Processor/Handler applications are preferred by Nov. 15, with a final deadline of June 1, 2018.