Hemp potential realised

Hemp potential realised

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AFTER two years of hemp trials in the Riverland and South East, results have demonstrated the industrial hemp industry's potential in SA.

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AFTER two years of hemp trials in the Riverland and South East, results have demonstrated the industrial hemp industry's potential in SA.

The SARDI report of nine trial varieties outlined the success of industrial hemp as an irrigated summer crop under the state's often challenging weather conditions.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone said the trials had demonstrated a number of factors for licenced growers to consider when planting industrial hemp.

"The results of two years of trialling nine varieties are positive and will support ongoing investment in the burgeoning industrial hemp industry," Mr Whetstone said.

"These trials have shown under the right conditions, including planting in free-draining soil and using good quality irrigation water, there was good germination and growth at the trial sites," he said.

According to the report there were challenges at the Kybybolite trial site in the 2017/18 trials because of the salinity of the groundwater, so the trial was moved to Maauope for the 2018/19 trials.

Free draining soil and high-density plantings trial results showed industrial hemp varieties performed successfully during October to January, particularly in the hot summer heat of the Riverland where the plants reached more than three metres high.

"The first commercial industrial hemp harvest in SA was in the 2018-19 growing season and the growing industry is anticipated to have a farmgate value of $3 million annually within five years," Mr Whetstone said.

"Current and potential growers are looking to order seed for the 2019-20 season and this information will also assist them with planning their growing schedule," he said.

Initial trials, conducted at Loxton and Kybybolite, compared five different industrial hemp varieties, while the 2018-19 trials looked at six varieties.

Some of the varieties were dropped during this latest round of trials based on the initial results, in favour of other varieties that were believed to be more suited to SA conditions.

To date the state government has approved 13 cultivation licences and two processing licences for industrial hemp in SA.

The research trials are a collaboration between SARDI, the University of Adelaide and the CSIRO.

A third round of trials for six varieties is set to commence at Loxton and Maaoupe.

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