AgriFutures Australia’s Emerging Industries Program has determined that industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.), i.e. low tetrahydrocannabinol hemp, is an industry with high growth potential. Industrial hemp has a diverse range of uses, including textiles, stockfeed, pet bedding, human food (seed) and building materials. However, to meet demand, there needs to be an increase in the scale of production.
Identified as a top priority in the Australian Industrial Hemp Strategic RD&E Plan (2022-2027) was the establishment of a nationally coordinated industrial hemp variety trial that covers the current and future major production environments.
The Industrial Hemp Variety Trials (IHVT) program aims to provide Australian hemp growers with independent information about the performance of industrial hemp seed varieties suited to specific geographic locations within Australia. The IHVT is a three-year project, with year one including sites in the Northern Territory (1), South Australia (2), Tasmania (1), Victoria (1) and Western Australia (2).
Year one results from the Loxton site in South Australia suggest growers in the Riverland region could consider planting the Henola variety, as it performed the best in this initial season. However, this is only one season’s data, and different seasonal conditions may impact varietal performance, so a cautionary approach is encouraged until three years of data can be assessed.