The first significant industrial hemp crops in South Australia will be grown in spring through to early summer this year following the State Government’s approval of the first cultivation licences.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone has big hopes for the crop, stating it could have a farm gate value of $3 million a year in South Australia within 5 years.
Research trials are already being undertaken by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) in the state’s Riverland and South East region. SARDI provide R&D services to the state government, commercial clients and research partners. These trials are being carried out to help determine the best sowing and growing period for various industrial hemp seed varieties.
Minister Whetsone said the approvals of licenses marked an important point in the evolution of South Australia’s agricultural sector.
“This is a significant milestone for the establishment of an exciting new agricultural industry here in South Australia that will grow our economy, especially in the regions,” said the Minister. “The ability to cultivate industrial hemp is great news for many farmers and processors as it provides them with another option to diversify their operations.”
Legislation enabling the cultivation of industrial hemp in South Australia passed State Parliament in April last year, marking the end of SA’s distinction as being the only state in Australia where growing hemp remained illegal. While at the time of the bill passing there were some rather optimistic forecasts cultivation could begin within weeks, we mentioned it may take some time – and that it has.
Licence holders will be required to grow industrial hemp from certified seed producing a final THC level of less than 1% and crops found to exceed this level may be destroyed. With regard to hemp seed, a certificate will be required indicating that the plants producing the seed purchased had a THC level less than 0.5%.
Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) is responsible for overseeing Industrial Hemp Act 2017.