The opportunity to produce premium industrial hemp seed in Tasmania is being explored as part of a new research project conducted by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA).
TIA is conducting research as part of an $114,000 project, driven by Ecofibre Industries, to produce high-yielding, low-THC industrial hemp varieties suited to Tasmanian growing conditions.
TIA Vegetable Centre Leader Dr Mark Boersma said the research could provide a tangible alternative outcome for Tasmania’s agriculture industry.
“As part of TIA’s mission to support the development of prosperous, innovative and sustainable agriculture and food industries and communities, we are working with one of the globally renowned leaders in industrial hemp, Ecofibre Industries, to develop commercial low-THC industrial hemp varieties for Tasmania’s climate,” Dr Boersma said.
“Tasmania’s long, cool growing season, combined with its reputation for being ‘clean and green’, may produce significant opportunities for the production of premium Tasmanian-branded industrial hemp seed for domestic and export markets.”
Dr Boersma said a trial involving eight different varieties of low-THC industrial hemp had been established at TIA’s Forthside Vegetable Research Facility late in 2016.
“As part of the trial we are conducting weekly evaluations of the plants, including monitoring height, the time it takes plants to reach maturity and seed yield response,” Dr Boersma said.
“We already know that Tasmania’s long, cool growing season has benefits for other crops such as potatoes and we are interested to study the adaption of low-THC industrial hemp varieties to Tasmania’s climate.”
A Field Day is being held at TIA’s Forthside Vegetable Research Facility to showcase the research to Tasmanian growers, agriculture service providers and interested community members.
TIA is a joint venture between the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania.