Country music superstar opens gates to South East QLD farm for industrial hemp field day

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Australian country music star James Blundell has joined a new wave of farmers embracing the potential of industrial hemp as a multi-purpose super crop.

Mr Blundell will open the gates to his property at Mt Malakoff near Stanthorpe in Queensland on Wednesday, 1 March 2023, to welcome current and potential growers, agronomists and processors for an industrial hemp field day.

The event will feature a tour of the hemp crop planted last year as part of a three-year Industrial Hemp Variety Trial (IHVT) funded by AgriFutures Australia in partnership with The University of Sydney.

Mr Blundell said he first became interested in growing industrial hemp more than 30 years ago.

“I was really drawn in by the range of applications for industrial hemp including things like construction materials, paper and fabric,” said Mr Blundell.

“It’s reputation for being exceptionally hardy also made it a viable option for marginal farming areas.”

Mr Blundell said he was keen to be involved in the AgriFutures trial to better understand which varieties performed well in his region.

The Stanthorpe trial plot is one of nine sites across seven states and territories of Australia where key performance data is being captured for a range of grain and dual-purpose (grain and fibre) varieties for different sowing times and environmental conditions.

The second year of the trial, but the first for South East Queensland, is evaluating the performance of nine varieties. These were sourced from seed suppliers in Australia, and include varieties from Australia, Canada, France and Poland.

IHVT NSW and QLD site co-ordinator, Associate Professor Guy Roth of The University of Sydney said the first trial at Stanthorpe was already yielding some interesting insights.

“We’ve already seen some interesting insights into seed germination in these conditions and field day visitors will be able to see the differences between the varieties and sowing times ahead of harvest,” said Associate Professor Roth.

AgriFutures Australia Emerging Industries Program Senior Manager, Dr Olivia Reynolds, said the field day is a great opportunity for farmers, processors, food retailers and commercial investors in the region to learn more about industrial hemp and the diverse opportunities it offers Australian agriculture.

“With a global industrial hemp market valued at $4.9 billion in 2019, and projected to reach $18.6 billion by 2027, this is a huge opportunity for Australian agriculture to produce an environmentally sustainable multi-purpose crop that can be used for everything from food to fabric and even building materials,” Dr Reynolds said.

The IHVT is aligned with the recent announcement of a $2.5 million program of research by AgriFutures Australia to grow the industry, which aims to exceed $10m in production at farmgate by 2026.

Industrial hemp, which must be grown under state or territory government permits, has very low tetrahydrocannabinol content (THC) but is high in protein and healthy fats. Since 2017 it has been legal to sell industrial hemp seed for human consumption.

The need for the IHVT was identified in the Australian Industrial Hemp Strategic RD&E Plan (2022-2027) developed by AgriFutures Australia, which sets out a clear pathway to grow the industry. The plan has five major objectives covering seed and varieties; growing the crop; products produced from the crop; the sustainability of hemp; and the regulatory environment.

The industrial hemp field day will be held from 11am to 12:30pm on Wednesday, 1 March 2023 at Mt Malakoff, Springdale Rd, Nundubbermere QLD – approximately 40 kilometres south west of Stanthorpe. Registration is required via this link. For enquiries please email guy.roth@sydney.edu.au

For more information on field day times, locations and programs at other locations around Australia, visit Industrial Hemp | AgriFutures Australia

[ENDS]

Media enquiries:
Megan Hendry
AgriFutures Emerging Industries Extension Officer
m.a.hendry@cqu.edu | +61 7 4930 9344

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