Interest in industrial hemp industry grows with 10 licences approved

Members of South Australia’s new industrial hemp industry have met for the first time to share key crop information and learn about the preliminary results from recent research trials, with 10 licences for cultivating and processing now approved by the State Government.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the inaugural meeting was a positive step for the new sector and aimed to help the industry connect.

“The key purpose of this meeting was to foster industry development, share insights and plans, connect growers and processors to encourage collaboration and discuss preparations for the upcoming season–this is key to developing a strong, robust industry,” said Minister Whetstone.

“The number of industrial hemp licences approved has increased and there has been a lot of interest in the industry. The creation of a new industrial hemp sector in the state is an exciting prospect and is great news for farmers as it provides another opportunity to diversify their operations.

“With the current predictions, the emerging new industry could have a farm gate value of up to $3 million in five years.”

To assist in the industry’s development, research trials have been undertaken by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) in the Riverland on sandy soil and in the South East on clay.

The trials aimed to determine the crop’s optimum sowing and growing period, assess different industrial hemp varieties and investigate time of seeding for hemp grain and fibre production.

“The preliminary results have demonstrated how the varieties have performed and have informed a second round of trials,” said Minister Whetstone.

“A second trial of six varieties will begin this month and run until mid-2019 to help better understand which varieties are best suited for South Australia. SARDI is undertaking more trials of specific hemp varieties and will be testing which ones are more likely to get the best quality yields for our growers.”

At the meeting, the second round of the research trials were discussed with industry representatives able to provide input into the direction and varieties chosen for optimal performance. Industrial hemp is produced from cannabis plants with low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content – less than one per cent in the leaves, flowers and stems.

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