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 South Australian trial provider at Maaoupe indicate growers could consider planting Ferimon 12 or CRS-1 in the Limestone Coast region, as these hemp varieties were the best performers in this initial season. However, caution is advised as this is just one season of data and different seasonal conditions may impact the relative performance of varieties. All industry participants need to be aware of the importance of seed quality for the hemp industry, with increased awareness expected to lead to improved seed handling practices by suppliers and increased vigilance by growers when buying seed.