Northern Industrial Hemp Variety Trial sites open for inspection ahead of harvest


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Farmers, processors, food retailers and commercial investors are invited to inspect two industrial hemp variety trials in northern Australia next month (June) as interest in the emerging industry continues to grow.

The trials at Katherine Research Station, NT and the Frank Wise Institute of Tropical Agriculture (FWITA) near Kununurra, WA are funded by AgriFutures Australia in partnership with the NT Department of Industry Tourism and Trade (DITT) and the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) respectively.

With nine sites across seven states and territories of Australia, the national IHVT is capturing key performance data 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 is evaluating up to 12 different varieties at Katherine and Kununurra including the publicly available King Gee as well as others from Australia, Canada, Poland, China and France.

Previous field days held in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania earlier this year saw a strong turnout, with up to 50 people attending each event.

Researchers expect a similar level of interest at Katherine and Kununurra where visitors will be able to see the difference between the varieties and sowing times ahead of harvest.

IHVT Trial Coordinator Mark Skewes said the field days would include a plot tour, crop inspection and a presentation of the IHVT first year results.

“It will be interesting to see how the varieties are performing in the lead up to this year’s harvest compared to the first year,” said Mr Skewes.

“Yuma, HanCold and King Gee were among the top performing varieties at the northern sites in the 2022 growing season and while the initial results are encouraging, the trial is being repeated for growers to have confidence in achieving the same results or better in different seasons.”

AgriFutures Australia Emerging Industries Program Senior Manager, Dr Olivia Reynolds, said the field day was a great opportunity for those interested in the emerging industrial hemp industry in northern Australia to learn more about growing the crop and the diverse opportunities it offered.

“With the global industrial hemp market projected to reach $18.6 billion by 2027, the outcomes of the IHVT will help position Australia’s agriculture industry to take advantage of the opportunity to produce an environmentally sustainable, multi-purpose crop,” said Dr Reynolds.

“Industrial hemp is extremely versatile and can be used for everything from food to fabric and even fenceposts,” said Dr Reynolds.
The IHVT is aligned with a $2.5 million program of research by AgriFutures Australia to grow the Australian 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 the grain 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.

Mark Skewes, IHVT Agronomist John Muir and Olivia Reynolds will all be in attendance at both northern IHVT field days, providing an opportunity for stakeholders to engage face to face.

For more information on the IHVT results, visit Industrial Hemp | AgriFutures Australia


Media enquiries:
Megan Hendry
AgriFutures Australia Emerging Industries Extension Officer
| +61 7 4930 9344

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