Interesting report about the vagaries of growing hemp in Australia through times of climate change, fires and a pandemic…..

 

ABC (Australia) reports..

In an isolated paddock in Victoria’s north west, a hefty hemp haul is being harvested.

A paddock of tall, thin plants sways gently at Murray River Organics’ (MRO) 32-hectare trial site in Nangiloc, the flowering heads ready for collection.

It is the first time this kind of edible hemp has been grown in the region and local MRO agronomist Richard Neagle said he expected it to be the biggest organic crop in the country, despite tough weather conditions.

“We had a very challenging growing season — a really hot, dry and windy spring,” he said.

“We think we might have a little more than we initially thought. The crop itself varies, as you can see, from around about 300–400mm in height, right through to probably 2.4 metres in height.”

Invasive pests, dust storms, dry soil, and sand drift have kept the scientists focused while tending to the hemp, which originates from a place with vastly different growing conditions in northern China.

“We’ve had organically certified cow manure spread on here as it was the only form of fertiliser, for the most part, and we had to top-dress it with a little bit of organic liquid and potassium,” Mr Nagle said.

“We had some heliothis, some army grubs, and we also had some myriads. Being organic, we’re very limited. Basically there’s not much we can spray on those crops.

“We were fortunate that we had a lot of birds, a lot of beneficial insects throughout the crop as well.”

Fertiliser and pest control weren’t the only hardships for the agricultural team. Choosing the right machine to harvest the plants was also a challenge.

“There’s no real special harvesters for hemp. You need to have something with big horsepower.

More at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-07/hemp-smoothies-muesli-among-creative-uses-of-first-edible-crop/12196510