Industrial Hemp and Sesame trial sites open for inspection in northern Australia


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Farmers in and around the Big Rivers Region of the Northern Territory (NT) and Kununurra in Western Australia (WA) are invited to learn about incorporating sesame and industrial hemp into broadacre rotations in northern Australia at a series of field days in June.

During the field days, trial sites showcasing these high-value, multi-purpose crops will be open for inspection. Growers interested in integrating these crops into their farming systems will have the opportunity to discuss the results of the trials, and inspect the plants.

The events will showcase research funded by AgriFutures Australia, supported by the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), the Northern Territory Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (NT DITT).

The Industrial Hemp Variety Trial (IHVT) sites at the Katherine Research Station, NT and the Frank Wise Institute of Tropical Agriculture, WA are among nine trial sites located in various climatic regions across the country that form the AgriFutures National IHVT program. The IHVT aims to provide growers with independent data and information about the performance of grain-only and dual-purpose (grain and fibre) varieties suited to specific geographic locations within Australia.

The final year of the three-year trial is evaluating up to 12 different varieties in Katherine and Kununurra from Australia, Canada, Poland, China and France.

IHVT Trial Coordinator Mark Skewes said the field days are a good opportunity for growers to compare the results from previous years.

“Last season, Yuma was the highest yielding variety for both grain and biomass at the Katherine site, while in Kununurra King Gee was a top performer,” he said.

“The trial has been very successful in highlighting the importance of varietal selection and providing foundational data to assist growers and agronomists in each region.”

The sesame trials also include a partnership with the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), and CQUniversity. Together with AgriFutures Australia, this forms the collaborative partnership, Sesame Central. The aim of the trials is to provide a coordinated approach to sesame research in Australia with a focus on addressing practical challenges faced by growers and communicating research findings to stakeholders throughout the sesame supply chain. The sesame trials are investigating new high-yielding, non-shattering black and white sesame varieties, which can be inspected at the field days.

With sesame valued at up to $2,000 per tonne at farmgate, and perfectly suited to Australia’s hot and dry conditions, it is an attractive option as a high-return break crop in broadacre farming systems, reducing reliance on imports, and bolstering local production. With a $2 million R&D investment from AgriFutures Australia in a Sesame Program of Research, the industry is positioned for accelerated growth.

Although the IHVT trials are concluding this year, AgriFutures Australia has funded a $2.5 million Industrial Hemp Program of Research to assist with the growth of the industry over the next four years.

Industrial hemp can only be grown under state or territory government permits, and while it contains very low tetrahydrocannabinol content (THC), is high in protein and healthy essential fatty acids. Since 2017 it has been legal to sell dehulled hemp seed for human consumption.

  • The 2024 Katherine IHVT and Sesame Central Field Day will be held on Tuesday 18 June from 8:30am – 2:00pm at the Katherine Research Station, 449 Stuart Highway, Katherine, NT 0850. Registration is required.
  • The 2024 Kununurra IHVT and Sesame Central Field Day will be held on Thursday 20 June from 8:30am to 2:00pm at the Frank Wise Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Durack Drive, Kununurra WA 6743. Registration is required.

For further enquiries, please email or for more information on sesame and industrial hemp research, visit AgriFutures Australia.

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