Best management practice manual for growing, harvesting and storing industrial hemp in Australia

  • 71 pages

  • Published: 29 Jun 2023

  • Author(s): Stuart Gordon, Mark Skewes, John Wightman, Rob Eccles, John Muir, Karen Kirkby, Induni Vijaya Kumar, Don Telfer, Robert Doyle, Omid Ansari, Shahajayan Miyan, Tim Schmidt, Bernard Thomson

  • ISBN: 978-1-76053-390-8

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  • Purchase a hard copy - AUD $50

Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is an emerging industry that is gaining increasing attention in Australian agriculture. While there was just under 2,500 ha of industrial hemp planted by more than 500 license holders across Australia in the 2022-23 season, the industry is expected to grow in coming years. Indeed, the industry has set a goal for domestic production of industrial hemp to have a gross value of production of more than $10 million per annum by 2026. To achieve this goal, increased production and post-harvest infrastructure is necessary.

The single biggest influence on industry viability is crop yields. To help the industry grow, AgriFutures Australia commissioned the development of this best management practice manual for growing, harvesting and post-harvest management and processing of industrial hemp. The manual is an important resource to assist existing industrial hemp growers and agronomists, and those seeking new crop opportunities.

The manual is comprehensive and includes sections on plant growth and development; varieties; regulations and licensing; sourcing and sowing seed; soils; fertiliser; irrigation; pests, diseases and weeds; and harvesting and post-harvest management.

Message from Tim Schmidt, President, Australian Hemp Council

The compilation of this first edition of a best management practice (BMP) manual for growing, harvesting and managing industrial hemp for post-harvest processing has been one of the most cohesive and collaborative actions the Australian industrial hemp industry has undertaken to date.

The project has brought together some of the most experienced and knowledgeable agronomists, consultants and academics from across the hemp industry, while the manual has been reviewed by the Australian Hemp Council (AHC) Agronomy Working Group. This has ensured a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to industrial hemp production for growers and agronomists is now available.

The Australian hemp industry is presented with some extraordinary opportunities. It has been clearly determined that the single biggest influence on industry viability is crop yields, which are fundamental to financial returns for growers from grain, planting seed, hurd and/or fibre production. This guide, with the foresight and dedication of AgriFutures Australia, the AHC and industry stakeholders, has been produced to provide knowledge for Australian hemp growers and agronomists, to ensure viable yields and our competitiveness in global markets.

With the hemp industry still in its infancy, there remains much to learn, and further basic research is required on industrial hemp production in Australia. It is noted that research and development priorities will change over time as practices become accepted and new challenges, e.g., insect pests and new growing regions, arise. This guide is a bright starting point for the hemp industry. It will evolve and grow with the industry over coming years.