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1 March 2023

1 March 2023

AHC President’s Report – February 2023

Welcome to our February report where for the southern latitudes we are at our peak pollination period for our hemp crops.  It seems generally, across the board, seed crops are reflecting the early planting challenges during the spring with reduced vegetative and potentially reduced seed production yield.  Progress for fibre crops has been mixed, with variability in crop vigour, some reports showing good healthy fibre crop growth and others not so good. The main reason for this is that most crops were planted unusually late.

A final draft of the Agrifutures funded and AHC managed best management practices guide has been submitted to Agrifutures for further review, we are looking forward to publication of this guide prior to next springs planting.  It has some great up to date information on agronomy production details.

This month there has been extensive investigation of the Industrial Hemp Variety Trials around the nation with a series of field days right across the country.  These trials are mostly jointly funded between Agrifutures and the relevant state governments.  A key outcome observed is the importance of seed quality, which is greatly affected by storage conditions and age.  It seems hemp seed viability deteriorates very quickly when not stored properly under chilled and dry conditions.  A more comprehensive comment on the trials will be included in next month’s report.

Fibre Forum
Please see the ‘Save the dates’ for the AHC fibre forum scheduled for 14th and 15th of June at Deakin University in Geelong.  With the proposed investment projects coming online, this forum will be a great opportunity for hemp growers and industry stakeholders to learn about the most recent developments and get a glimpse of the future of hemp fibre industries in Australia. We will have more details before the end of March.

Call for fibre product
Klara Marosszeky who has been a strong industry advocate for many years and owns the Australian Hemp Masonary Company is on the lookout for bales of hemp fibre for processing.  If you have some bales available, please get in touch as it would be a great help in continuing the utilisation of local fibre material.  You can contact us on info@australianhempcouncil.org.au.


 

State Reports

iHemp WA – Gail Stubber
Agrifutures Industrial hemp variety trials (IHVT) field day was attended by 45 invitees.  Quality of the seed seemed to vary greatly with effects on germination.  The trials have been well run and is providing useful information.  Comprehensive annual reports will continue to be available through Agrifutures.

During industry discussions it was highlighted that best practices models are still to be refined, given a farmer experience where seed for oil extraction was burnt during the drying process.

NT Farmers – Dominic Calder
Invitations going out for IH presenters and exhibitors at the Food Futures Conference in May. It would be a valuable opportunity to network and spread industry awareness

NT Farmers partnership with the Hemp CRC details have been finalised.

Jaimie Milling – iHemp NSW
We have been fielding enquires from construction companies on utilisation of hemp indicating growing commercial interest.

Recently in the Gunnedah, a local business has taken delivery of a D8 decorticator, which will assist in increasing firbre processing capacity for the region.

Indoor hemp leaf on the left from Switzerland and outdoor Australian Industrial Hemp leaf on the right

A quick update on progress with testing for RUST Natural Products Switzerland below:

  1. Testing is ongoing in Switzerland with Arthroscope (Government Testing Authority) for the Fungicide and Insecticide
  2. Positive results from a grape grower in Italy for the Fungicide product with an 80% success rate in reducing Downy Mildew
  3. Australian Industrial Hemp leaf has been received in Switzerland which was supplied by CHC and has now been made into a concentrate liquid and sent for further testing of the Australian outdoor grown hemp leaf.
  4. Images supplied of both formulas using indoor hemp leaf on the left from Switzerland and outdoor Australian Industrial Hemp leaf on the right of image. Note the new brew is a lot darker than the original formula which may result in a better formula awaiting results.
  5. Contact has been made with the Office of Regional Economic Development NSW regarding Grants available to progress business in Australia.
  6. Initial contact has been made with APVMA regarding testing in Australia and product registration once field trials have been completed.
  7. We are looking for suitable growers of Grapes and Apples for small scale field trials of our Fungicide and also Hemp growers for small scale field testing of our Insecticide products.

iHemp NSW was contacted by Gaye Krebs from CSU Wagga. Gaye’s research planned for later on in the year is the digestion kinetics of hemp silages and hay made at different growth stages with sheep. Gaye has asked us to supply a hemp fibre bale for their trial work on sheep. We spoke to Genevieve Leonard from NSW DPI about supplying hemp material to the CSU sheep trial program as Gaye had concerns about the NSW guidelines of feeding plant material sourced from another area. The NSW DPI have given the Uni full support with their Trial program.

Lauchlan Grout – Queensland Hemp Association
Queensland has had a very wet season to start the year, majority of seed multiplication and grain crops have been rescheduled for planting in mid March, thankfully this will not have a significant impact on yields.

Major projects from Central Queensland and Far North Queensland with regards to biofuels, phytoremediation and biomass processing for building/construction have all progressed to plan and are on track to commercialise their businesses by 2024.

In terms of our current discussions with Queensland Department of Primary Industries, the department has been very supportive and positive towards our local industries collective opinions and advice on regulatory amendments as the industry evolves. Another key highlight was discussing and submitting our opinions to the RPI Regulation Authority QLD with regards to leaf matter being removed from the production site, these regulatory barriers are being looked into with a potential pilot study being conducted with Hemp Farms Australia and the QLD DPI.

Tim Schmidt – Tasmanian Hemp Association

The IHVT trials continue to grow well.  If there was a year not to plant hemp in Tasmania, this would be it, given the late cold wet spring.  These conditions have compromised some of the horticultural cropping in northern Tasmania.

On February Friday 24th the THA met with a number of school groups and agricultural educators to discuss the hemp industry.  That afternoon we had the IHVT field day and the following day we had an open community hemp education day to promote the Tasmanian hemp industry.  A more comprehensive report on the field day will be in next month’s edition.

We had a meeting with a number of senior department representatives from the Tasmanian government to discuss progress on the legislative review.  We are pleased that there is genuine interest and engagement from our state government.  The plan is to ensure proposed legislation is in a form that will proceed easily through parliament. 

Unfortunately, aspects of the misuse of drugs act and the poisons act that relate to the hemp industry that require changes, could take up to 3 years to bring into effect.

Around the 24th we had a surprise visit from Professor Rachel Burton who has been conducting research on hemp through the university of Adelaide.  We were pleased to be able to review some private Tasmanian trials with Rachel, along with John Muir (National agronomist for the industrial hemp variety trials).  Rachel is planning further research in the hemp industry, particularly on the aspect of food nutrition and some of the unique attributes hemp has for the food industry.

Mick Anderson – Industrial Hemp Association South Australia
Sarah Gain from the MLC visited the proposed Vicura processing site, followed by David Speers leader of the SA liberal party.  It seems that development proposals by Vircura have stimulated interest in the SA hemp industry.

We visited fibre crops for Vircura, they seem to be growing ok, but this season has been a little cool.  The IHVT field day at Reedy Creek was held 23rd February. 

Good Country Hemp will be holding field days for teenager to educate them on the hemp industry.

Lyn Stephenson – RHV

Our President, Treasurer and one of our new members attended variety trials at Hamilton with about 16 attendees.  Shane Herbertson (responsible for hemp grower permits in the Agriculture Department) was one of the presenters. He emphasised that none of the plant can currently be used in livestock production in Victoria. He also said that approvals for properties to grow hemp had been relaxed a little, although there was still a concern if the property was near a school.

The Hamilton trials are irrigated through a drip system. Extensive discussions were held on the subjects of herbicides and insecticides.

Tom Smith, a local resident of the Pyramid community in Victoria, is looking at developing a processing facility in the local area.  Having travelled to the US to investigate processing technology, he was not satisfied with what he found and so will re-examine fibre technologies available.  Tom has already achieved much for his community and is very thorough in his research on hemp fibre development. Tom has already been conducting fibre variety trials for suitability in the area.


 

The Australian Hemp Council is a non profit volunteer organisation working hard to help the Australian hemp industry grow.  We thank you for helping us support those in the industry, when and where possible. By joining your state hemp organisation you will be giving us the needed support to help change our Australian hemp industry for the better.
As always, to be up to date for all information regarding hemp processing, growing in Australia be sure to subscribe to our mailing list through our website.

From everyone at the AHC, thanks again and see you next month.