Industrial Hemp Variety Trials now with national footprint

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The emerging industrial hemp industry now has varietal trials in the ground in every state, and the Northern Territory in Australia. Farmers interested in growing the crop are invited to inspect the sites at a series of field days planned for 2023, dates include:

  • SA Loxton –Wednesday, 18 January 2023
  • WA Manjimup – Thursday, 2 February 2023
  • VIC Hamilton – Thursday, 9 February 2023
  • NSW Narrabri – Tuesday, 14 February 2023
  • SA Reedt Creek – Thursday, 23 February 2023
  • TAS Epping Forest – Friday, 24 February 2023
  • QLD Stanthorpe – Wednesday, 1 March 2023
  • WA Kununurra – June (TBC)
  • NT Katherine – June (TBC)

Crops have been planted in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland in recent weeks to increase the network to nine Industrial Hemp Varietal Trial (IHVT) sites. These sites are designed to capture key performance data including yield and quality for different varieties under different agricultural sowing times and environmental conditions across Australia.

IHVT national coordinator Mark Skewes, of the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), said the key outcome of the three-year IHVT would be individual recommendations about which varieties to grow and the best time to sow in each region.

“Providing a coordinated approach across trials in different regions of Australia and providing access to comparable data will enable growers to make informed decisions on-farm,” said Mr Skewes.

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

“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,” said AgriFutures Australia Emerging Industries Program Senior Manager, Dr Olivia Reynolds.

Industrial hemp, which must be grown under state government permits, has very low tetrahydrocannabinol content (THC) but is high in protein and healthy fats, and 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 field days will include trial site inspections and a presentation of the results to date.

“This is a great opportunity for farmers, processors, food retailers and commercial investors to learn more about industrial hemp and the amazing opportunities it offers Australian agriculture,” said Mr Skewes.

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

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