Commercial hemp crops have been sown across the South East for the second season, with the most recent crop sown last week.
Good Country Hemp - which has hemp processing facilities at Bordertown - has contracted three SE farmers at Coonawarra, Nangwarry and Frances to grow hemp under centre pivot irrigation.
The company's managing director Mick Andersen said a very hot start to summer meant early-sown crops required more water than usual to get the plants growing.
"The reason we are sowing so late is that it has been a late season and we've had to get the oat crop off before planting the hemp, so the rotation was delayed, but using this variety (Felina32) it should be OK," Mr Andersen said.
"The Felina32 variety is not as day length sensitive as the CFX2 variety, leaving a bigger calendar window for sowing, meaning it won't get as tall and will be easier to harvest."
While hemp can be sown after any crop - with the exception of canola, due to a "continuation of pests from canola to hemp", Mr Andersen said - following a legume crop is considered ideal.
A total of 19 hemp licenses - 17 for cultivation and two for processing - are currently granted in SA, an increase from the 10 cultivation licenses issued in 2018.
Certified hemp seeds are imported for sowing from either France or Canada each season, and farmers cannot resow harvested seed.
"We learnt from last year that crop yields are something that's difficult to determine but we're looking for over 1.0 tonne a hectare average this year," Mr Andersen said.
"We aim to use all of the season's seed within 12 months and then we resow and have fresh seed for the next 12 months.
"When we harvest, the seed comes off at 18 per cent moisture, so we need to dry it, which we have a dryer specifically for that at our Bordertown facility, then the seed gets cleaned at Tatiara Seeds, making it ready for processing.
"Harvest in late March will see the first stock of this season's crop on shelves the first week of June," he said.
Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Click here to sign up to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.