Monday, January 26, 2015

Growing hemp in Alberta

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

An Alberta Agriculture crop specialist says there are opportunities for growing hemp in the province, particularly organic hemp.  “Many people may now be aware that the majority of the hemp grown in Alberta is for seed purposes,” said Harry Brook, crop specialist, Alberta Ag-Info Centre, Stettler. “The market is strong for hemp seed but the fibre market is stalled due to a lack of a processing plant. However, there is one planned for southern Alberta.”  Brook said there is a lot of interest in growing hemp, especially with conventional crop prices being on the decline this year.

“Manitoba Harvest and Hemp Oil Canada, who are the two biggest companies that sign up producers to grow hemp, say they are filled up with conventional produced hemp. However, they are still looking for organic producers, and that is where the opportunities are right now.”

Before growing hemp, growers need permission from Health Canada. “Unless it’s one or two of the most common varieties, you will have to send in a sample at your cost to be tested for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).. You’ll also have to show what fields you are growing hemp in, the number of acres, and where you are getting the seed.”

Once approved, there are other agronomic considerations as well. “Hemp is fairly easy to grow and develops rapidly. However, you want to keep plant height down to a manageable level. It’s a very fibrous crop and you need to minimize the biomass going through your combine to avoid starting a fire. But while growing hemp has its challenges, it also can pay you well for the trouble.”

For more information on growing hemp, call the Ag-Info Centre a call at 310-FARM (3276).

Possibly related story:

New color sorter at the Pincher Seed Cleaning Plant "Some day in the short future we're going to be cleaning hemp."

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