Back in April 2017, the legalisation of hemp foods in Australia was regarded as a major stepping stone for the fledgling hemp industry. Australia was one of the last countries in the Western world that still prohibited all species of cannabis from being added to food, abolishing a ban that had existed since 1937. Now, the hemp industry is set to thrive and along with it, the hemp agronomy in Australia.
Since 2015, Rick's Hemp Oil has been a trusted supplier of hemp oil products. In this article, our experts talk about the budding hemp agronomy in Australia and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the hemp industry.
How is the hemp agronomy in Australia?
Due to Australia's regulatory environment, hemp is grown in Australia specifically for food or industrial purposes. The many available varieties of industrial hemp make it suitable for growth and farming in various geographical locations across the country. It is a fast growing, high yielding and hardy crop, which can be sown from early spring to late summer or even early autumn. A large proportion of its production is irrigated.
Commercial and industrial hemp crops are grown in all states of Australia, with most commercial production concentrated in Tasmania. According to the 2020 Industrial Hemp Update by Industrial Hemp Taskforce Victoria, approximately 1,600 hectares of hemp were planted in Tasmania in the 2019-2020 growing season. This amounted to a farm gate value of $4.5 million. For comparison, 200 hectares were planted in Victoria and 280 hectares in Western Australia.
According to a hemp farm's operations manager, the typical hemp price per ton in Australia ranges anywhere between $2,000 to $7,000 per ton.
What are the requirements and regulations to grow hemp in Australia?
You need to have a hemp growing license in Australia, issued by a state government.
The reason you have to apply for a hemp growing licence is because industrial hemp is not recognised as a commodity in farming. Instead, the government classifies industrial hemp under the ‘Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981’ as cannabis (even with the approved THC levels). This includes those who cultivate hemp even for alternative, natural remedies such as organic hemp oil or tincture in Australia.
The growing locations for hemp farming and cultivation must be also approved by the state Government. Hemp growers and farmers will need to agree to inspections and monitoring done by inspectors from the state government.
All of these requirements and regulations are done to ensure that hemp is not being grown for therapeutic or illegal reasons and to prevent the general public from coming into contact with the crops.
How is hemp grown in Australia?
Hemp is now grown as an irrigated crop in every state in Australia. The crop grows best in tropical and subtropical climates, specifically in temperatures between 15–27°C. It is primarily grown during the summer months and seasons with a moderately humid atmosphere.
Harvesting of the crop for industrial hemp fabric production occurs as soon as the last pollen is shed, right before the seed sets. This normally happens 70-90 days after the hemp is planted.
Harvesting for seeds occurs 4-6 weeks later than harvesting for fibre, when 60-70% of the seeds have ripened. As soon as farmers notice signs of birds stripping the seeds off the plant, harvesting typically begins.
The future of the hemp industry
The global medical cannabis industry is set to be worth an estimated $61.5 billion by 2024. With Australian hemp growers permitted to export cannabis products, this allows Australian farmers to capitalise on the global hemp export market. Reliable access to overseas markets also results in increased profitability and future investments for their people and properties.
For the Australian economy, it will also mean more jobs, more exports and higher incomes in a profitable and competitive agricultural sector.
While hemp production in Australia is somewhat hampered due to discrepancies between state and federal regulations, we hope that there will come a time when Australian farmers will be able to reap the benefits of an open hemp market.
Awareness on the part of both potential customers and political entities of the benefits of hemp may remain low today, but we remain hopeful that people will come to discover the many benefits of hemp and contribute to the growing potential of the hemp industry.
For more information and enquiries about hemp agronomy in Australia, don't hesitate to reach out to us today. As a leading and trusted provider of hemp oil products in Australia, we are perfectly positioned to answer any questions you may have We have years of experience in the industry and have developed the know-how to bring our customers a range of top quality, organic hemp products.