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2 April 2023

2 April 2023

AHC President’s Report – March 2023

Welcome to our March report, which includes a number of exciting developments for the industry.  These include our upcoming AHC Fibre Forum, Agrifutures project reports and state reports.

The diversity of the Australian hemp crop is highlighted by the fact that planting is about to commence in the Northern Territory, soon for QLD while at the same time, harvest will be completed in Tasmania and Victoria.  It seems generally yields and results have been compromised by the season and lack of knowledge this year, only with experience and sound agronomic advice will the national yields improve.

The AHC Fibre Forum will take place 14th & 15th June at Deakin University in Geelong.  If you’re interested in the Australian hemp fibre industry, then you will not be disappointed, you can attend online or in person.  See the following link for further details:

Hemp CRC steering committee
We are pleased to advise that the AHC has been invited to join the Hemp CRC steering committee which will give the AHC membership a voice on considerations for industry research plans.

Recently AgriFutures have provided a report on hemp projects in Australia with the March edition of their newsletter. 

North American National Hemp Association 
The AHC was invited to attend an international meeting convened by the National Hemp Association from North America which involved a range of countries.  Issues such as international law and national collaboration were discussed. Gail Stubber attended the meeting on behalf of the AHC.

State Reports

iHemp WA – Gail Stubber
We would like to congratulate Iggy Van on election to the role of president for I Hemp WA.  Already there have been proactive developments in the organisation with development of a new membership structure that brings iHemp WA in line with the other states.  The website has been refreshed and updated, plus a strategy review mapping out plans for the next 5 years. This will be presented publicly on April 20th at a major WA event.  Check out their website for further details.

HempGro – Western Australia’s hemp growers’ co-op is actively trying to sell its seed for both food production and for high seed rate at a very reduced price so that we they are able to import new batches for next season for potential buyers here in WA – reach out through their website for more information.

Photo from Kenneth Dods – WA

The NVT Trials at Manjimup have grown well this season, showing some promising signs. In these trials they have included three different dates for sowing.  There were around 45 attendees, mostly researchers.  In future field days in June, the Co-op and DPIRD will be targeting growers for the event.

Northern Territory Report – Dominic Calder
I met up with John Muir to discuss fibre production for building products in the NT.

We are awaiting the results of hempcrete bug food test. The outcomes may present an opportunity to test the resistance of other binding ingredients for use in hempcrete.

NT Members are stressing the importance of considering the mutual benefits for other agricultural crops and hemp, especially with cotton in the NT.

Australia’s leading conference on agricultural development in the north

The 2023 Northern Australia Food Futures Conference is taking place in Darwin, 22nd – 25th May. It is now in its 5th year since its conception in 2014, the event focuses on agriculture in the northern regions of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, showcasing opportunities in the north.

The conference is integral in driving expansion in the north and places northern agriculture on the national agenda and is attended by investors, politicians, industry and community stakeholders from around Australia and the world to explore agricultural opportunities in the north. 

The theme for the 2023 Conference is ‘Northern myths, opportunities & realities’ and over 500 delegates will enjoy a full program across the 4 days including:

  • Plenary sessions, Workshops and Concurrent Sessions
  • Over 100 speakers from industry, research, government and private sector, including successful farmers from WA, NT and Qld
  • Exhibition and displays
  • Welcome Function and Gala Dinner
  • An Ag Tech Showcase and Industry Night

Bronwyn Blake will be presenting on her research project. Here’s the link for further details and registration:

Queensland Report – Lauchlan Grout
The Hemp Health and Innovation took place on the 25th-26th of March at the Brisbane Convention Centre, updates regarding this event will be presented in the next newsletter.

Stanthorpe IHVT Field Day was held on 1st March at James Blundell’s property, considering the area it was grown in with all nutrients and water being trucked in, the trial was a somewhat success taking this into account. It is hoped more varieties will be included in the next round of trials with further suitable locations.

The Queensland Hemp Association AGM has been pushed back to late April. For further Information regarding the date, time and location check out our website if you haven’t received the details. 

Two new corporate members joined the association, Southern Cross University and Australian Country Choice which is a positive outcome for the QHA.

Tasmania Report – Tim Schmidt
The season has definitely turned here with a couple of light frosts.  By the time you read this the Tasmanian harvest will be completed.  It looks like yields will be well down on past years, given the seasonal difficulties experienced.

An Australian first was completed last week in Northern Tasmania where .5ha of a fibre crop was chopped as silage, which generated some fantastic data.  The crop was EcoFibre’s MS-77, which did well under the seasonal circumstances and the fact it was planted so late being December 12th.  The following data was collected: Metabolisable Energy ME was 10.5, Crude Protein 8.2% and Dry Matter of 29.4%. 

We extrapolated that the Dry Matter yield was 5.5t/ha which by usual standard is quite low, with better ground preparation, seed establishment and earlier sowing time, this crop could have easily achieved more than double the dry matter.

Tim’s Hemp Silage

Last month we had the Industrial Hemp Variety Trials field day.  In Tasmania these trials are managed by the Tasmanian Hemp Association (THA) which is supported by both the state government and AgriFutures. Jason Lynch has done a fantastic job managing the trials, which will produce some quality data for the industry.

One of the most curious features was how one of the varieties exhibited a nutritional deficiency despite the fact that it had an excess of applications.  The THA held a community education day at the site where around 100 people attended, there was a lot of interest in the trials where locals were able to learn about our hemp industry.  Well done to Andi Lucas, President of the THA, who organised the day.

In private trials in Tasmania, the requirement for diligent seed storage was demonstrated where .75 ha was sown with seed at 3 times the recommended rate and not one seed germinated.  This seed was 5 years old, stored in a shed (not chilled), which goes to show seed vigour can deteriorate very quickly in hemp seed if not stored appropriately.

South Australia Report – Mick Andersen
South Australia experienced some cooler weather during January and February which has caused some SA crops to flower 2 weeks earlier than predicted, causing an urgent call to action by the grower to desiccate the crops before they set seed. The grower is forced to transport a hemp fibre harvesting machine from WA to cut the crop within the next 10 days. A result of the growing period being cut short is the biomass yield will be lower than expected which is unfortunate.

The field day at the IHVT site at Reedy Creek was reasonably well attended with at least 3 new potential hemp growers taking interest showing positive signs for the SA hemp industry. Vircura expressed their increasing interest and are  looking for more hemp growers later this year.

Hemp food sales continue to grow with Good Country Hemp products now in all Foodland and Drakes stores in SA. Good Country Hemp is also further developing their dehulling line with the installation of a colour sorter to improve efficiency and output.

IHASA will hold a special general meeting at 7pm on 12th April to discuss proposed changes to the constitution including membership fee restructuring. A notice has been emailed to a list of 38 current, past and potential members to encourage membership renewal and their attendance at the SGM.

New South Wales Report – Jaimie Milling
We believe that fibre crop harvesting is occurring in NSW with the harvesting innovation developed by Gavin Hopkins and supported by Agrifutures.  We haven’t heard much about this project but hope to learn more in May when Agrifutures will release a report on the project.

John Muir, Lauchlan Grout and Jaimie Milling are assisting Karen Kirkby in sourcing varieties for further work on pathogens in hemp, been conducted at Narrabri DPI research facility.

Victoria Report – Lyn Stephenson
Plans are been made to conduct a pre-season workshop on cropping and agronomy for Victorian producers after the fibre forum in June, more details to come next month.

Reports have come in that most crops in Victoria are fibre trial crops and similar to Tasmania have had seasonal challenges.  With a wet late planting compounded with less than ideal germination, many of the crops have not realized their full potential.

Thanks for reading and if you’re not already subscribed, join now to stay up to date with any new information regarding hemp around Australia.

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