Farmers interested in adding industrial hemp to their crop rotations are invited to attend a series of field days in Victoria and South Australia this summer.

The Industrial Hemp Variety Trial (IHVT) field days, to be held in Hamilton VIC on 30 January, Maaoupe SA on 31 January and in Loxton SA on 2 February, are the culmination of a three-year research project to determine best performing varieties and sowing times for each growing region.

The three sites are among nine across the country that make up the AgriFutures Australia national IHVT program, which aims to provide growers with independent information about the performance of dual-purpose (grain and fibre) industrial hemp varieties suited to specific geographic locations within Australia.

Original post: Agrifutures Australia. 

South Australian hemp processor, Mick Andersen, said the upcoming field days were a perfect opportunity for cereal and grain growers, agronomists and others interested in the industrial hemp industry to learn about crop requirements, yields and varietal selection.

“There is nothing like walking through a hemp crop as part of a field day and having a good look at it, smelling it and feeling it because when you can see it for real, you can imagine it on your own farm,” Mr Andersen said.

“Now hemp growers have runs on the board in the industry, other farmers are more reassured to have a crack at it themselves,”

Mr Andersen and his wife Linda operate Good Country Hemp, a business that partners with local farmers to grow and produce premium quality hemp foods such as cold-pressed hemp seed oil, hulled hemp seed and protein powder.

“We look at quite a few attributes of a variety when we assess them for profitability,” Mr Andersen said.

“The IHVT is very important for us to ascertain not only which varieties to grow in our region but also the best regions to source our seed.”

As part of the IHVT program, more than 10 different varieties of hemp sourced from international suppliers including Canada, France, Poland and local Australian suppliers are evaluated.

IHVT national coordinator, Mark Skewes, of the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) said the field days would include a field walk where participants can view the condition of the different varieties and a presentation of results.

“Field day visitors will be able to see how the trial crop is growing, and the differences between the varieties and sowing times ahead of harvest,” Mr Skewes said.

“There will also be an optional agronomy training workshop at each of the field days, hosted by AgriFutures IHVT agronomist John Muir.

“These sessions will be of particular interest to agronomists and growers who are seeking more in-depth information about how to grow industrial hemp,”

AgriFutures Australia Emerging Industries Program Senior Manager, Dr Olivia Reynolds, said the field days aimed to bring together farmers, processors, food retailers and commercial investors to learn more about industrial hemp and the diverse opportunities it offers Australian agriculture.

“The global industrial hemp market is projected to reach $18.6 billion by 2027,” Dr Reynolds said.

“This is a huge opportunity for Australian agriculture to produce an environmentally sustainable, multi-purpose crop that can be used for everything from food to building materials.”

Following on from the IHVT program, AgriFutures Australia is funding a $2.5 million Industrial Hemp Program of Research to assist with the growth of the industry.

Industrial hemp can only be grown under state or territory government permits, and while it contains very low tetrahydrocannabinol content (THC) industrial hemp is high in protein and healthy essential fatty acids. Since 2017 it has been legal to sell industrial hemp seed for human consumption.

The need for the IHVT was identified in the Australian Industrial Hemp Strategic RD&E Plan (2022-2027) developed by AgriFutures Australia, which sets out a clear pathway to grow the industry. The Plan has five major objectives covering seed and varieties; growing the crop; products produced from the crop; the sustainability of hemp; and the regulatory environment.

AgriFutures Australia IHVT Field Days:

Hamilton VIC – Tuesday, 30 January, 2024
Register here
Location: Hamilton Smart Farm 915 Mt Napier Rd, Hamilton 3300
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Includes a light lunch
Optional extra: Agronomy workshop from 12:30pm – 2:00pm with AgriFutures IHVT agronomist John Muir.

Maaoupe SA – Wednesday 31 January, 2024
Register here
Location: 159 Moulton Road, Maaoupe, SA 5277
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Includes a light lunch
Optional extra: Agronomy workshop from 12:30pm – 2:00pm with AgriFutures IHVT agronomist John Muir.

Loxton SA – Friday 2 February, 2024
Register here
Location: Loxton Research Centre Farm, 13 Dorsch Avenue, Loxton, SA 5333
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Includes a light lunch
Optional extra: Agronomy workshop from 12:30pm – 2:00pm with AgriFutures IHVT agronomist John Muir.

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