Farming Industrial Hemp in Australia is a relatively new concept to a large number of people, and that’s okay – That means progress! If you’re just looking at starting a Hemp Farm in Australia, skip past this introduction and get right to the juicy stuff! First, we’re going to clear up a few common misconceptions that we have noticed when it comes to farming this incredible crop in our country.
Due to the presence of the psychoactive compound THC, cannabis species’ received quite a bad reputation. This led to the criminalisation of the entire family. However, recent revelations have exposed a massive industrial potential for Hemp, and Australia has been looking to get back on board!
With the confusion that already surrounds THC and CBD, an industrial layer complicates things. It’s not surprising so many people think Hemp can’t be grown in Australia!
…But it can. And this week we want to show you everything it takes to become a Hemp Farmer in Australia – state by state.
Let’s get started!
Hemp grows best in tropical and subtropical climates that get at least 600mm of rainfall every year with quite a bit of humidity. Due to this, it’s generally grown through summer-autumn. However, Hemp has been known to adapt to almost any environment.
A wide range of climates have ‘landraces’ that essentially adapted to the environment – a massive testament to this plant’s versatility. A great example of this is the cannabis Ruderalis species native to Russian territory where the land is frozen over for around 8-9 months of the year. In response, this particular variant adapted to a three-month seed-to-flower lifecycle. The plant drops seeds into the ground once matured, which freeze under the ice – ready for germination by next summer’s first melt.
Tasmania grows the most Hemp in Australia, partly due to the cooler subtropical climates that would be optimal for Hemp growth. Other states like VIC, SA, NSW, WA, and QLD can also meet these criteria. Essentially, the further north you go, it could be tougher to grow Hemp due to the intense and dryness that starts to present through summer. When looking into genetics that could grow well in these conditions, it could be worth looking towards genes sourced from dry, hot locations like Africa. These variations could offer more drought-resistant traits than a landrace from Jamaica or Asia, for example.
There has recently been progress in the field of Hemp genetics for Australia’s hotter environments. Professor David McNeil is from the UTAS and Department of Primary Industries and regional development is working to develop seed strains better suited to warmer and drier conditions in Australia’s north (North Queensland, Northern Territory)
There are three different types of Hemp licences you can go for in Queensland. The three categories are ‘Grower’, ‘Researcher’, and ‘Seed handler’. Here, we will focus on the ‘Growers Licence’. However, If you are a holder of any of these licences, you are required to keep records of your activities such as any industrial cannabis in your possession and how much you plant. You are also prohibited from engaging in or supplying anybody with material that relates to any activities surrounding the production of a CBD oil or product from the leaf or flowering heads. You can read about the different types of Hemp products here!
The Requirements for a Hemp Growers Licence in Queensland are quite simple. To be eligible, you must not have been declared bankrupt or convicted of a serious offence within the previous ten years. Of course, you should probably also own a reasonable amount of land unless you’re just doing it out of interest. It should also have access to irrigation in case rainfall doesn’t quite do it.
New South Wales allows the growth of low-THC Hemp if specific conditions are met by the applicant(s). Once approved, you will be allowed to carry out activities related to the production of Hemp for commercial purposes, manufacturing processes, scientific research, or any other purpose outlined in the regulation. Next we’ll outline some of the more significant ones application requirements for New South Wales Hemp licences;
Unfortunately at this stage there are no Hemp processing facilities operating in New South Wales. However, there will be a fibre processing facility that is estimated to be opening up sometime between now and the end of 2022 headed by Langdon Brown
South Australian’s are able to apply for three different types of Hemp licences: A Posession licence, a cultivation licence, or a processing licence. Certified Hemp Seed must come from a plant that didn’t have leaf or flower that tested above 0.5% THC. Independent tests must be undertaken for every crop, and if a plant tests above 1% THC, a criminal investigation may be opened.
For those in South Australia who hope to process their Hemp, there are options! Out of the two processing licences granted back in 2018, the most notable was Mick Anderson who set out to open a Hemp Seed processing facility in Borderdown under the licence that was granted.
If you live in Victoria and want to farm Hemp, you must apply for a licence within your state as all others do. Like every other state, this licence is for industrial breeds (non-therapeutic purposes). The seed used to sow the crop must have come from plants that tested to less than 0.35% THC. Furthermore, leaf, flower, or any other part of the low-THC hemp must not be sold for human consumption.
To apply for this licence, you and all other applicants must provide a national police background check, credit report, business or research plan. You must also provide information about the area in which you plan to grow your Hemp. An assessment of the farm is also often required.
As for Victoria, Australia Primary Hemp owns and operates one of the most prominent Hemp processing facilities in the country. You can get in touch with them here to learn more about their services!
Tasmania’s Industrial Hemp licencing is run by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and Environment. As with any other state, Tasmania requires a licence to cultivate low-THC Hemp varieties for any purpose whatsoever. However, they have a range of licences available to choose from. Tasmania allows the provision of licences for supply, cultivation, manufacturing, research purposes, or any mix of the aforementioned purposes. The DPIPWE will also require that you submit police background checks for you and all partners, as well as information regarding the site that you wish to grow your Hemp crop on.
Processing your Hemp in Tasmania can be done thanks to people like Tim Crow from Hemp Harvests who opened up a Hemp processing facility in Tasmania that can process up to 3,000 tonnes of Hemp Seed every year!
Western Australia will also accept applications for prospective Hemp farmers who are hoping to get their foot in the door for participation in the newest crop industry in Australia. The state maintains that the leaf, flower, or any other part of the plant must not contain any more than 1% THC or it will be classified as ‘Marijuana’. To be eligible for this licence, you’re required to be over 18 years of age, be considered a ‘fit and proper person of good character and repute’, hold required qualifications, and have enough resources to carry out your proposed plan.
Hemp processing in Western Australia is about to get a whole lot easier with our brand new processing facility that just opened up! If you’re in Western Australia and looking for Hemp processing services, please get in touch through our website or www.hemphomesaustralia.com.au
One of the most crucial decisions to make when starting your Hemp farm is choosing the right Hemp genetics based on your environment. The last thing you want is to get half way through your grow, and it gets destroyed by environmental factors that caused easily avoidable problems. Things like pests, mould, frost, and drought can be detrimental to your crop. Is your area prone to any of these?
Presumably, everywhere in the world has at least one ‘downfall’ when growing crops. Luckily we have honed in on genetic selection and been able to beed environmental-resistant strains of Hemp – well, not totally.
Generally you can pick from a couple of desirable traits that have been brought together into a viable crop breed.
Do you live in a hot, humid, muggy environment? You’re going to want mould resistance. Do you live in an area that has cold-snaps which can hurt crops that prefer moderate-higher temperatures? You’ll want frost resistance. And so on, so forth.
You can also choose genetics that yield more of specific resources. Say you want to farm for seed and want to achieve the highest possible yield per acre… you’re not going to want a fibre variety.
You’re going to want genetics that have been selected and bred over years to maximise the production of seed – without genetically altering the plant.
If you want fibre, you’ll want a different variety entirely. The same goes for flower. Multi-purpose variants are also available, and we have no doubt genetic research will continue to provide strong options for Hemp farming as we move into the future.
It’s always best to consult the experts when it comes to selecting genetics! please contact us, if you need further info or have any questions.
We wanted to take a deeper dive into the state by state options for those who are hoping to participate in the Australian Industrial Hemp industry to show that it certainly is possible! And it’s not the most unrealistic goal if it’s something you truly want to do. Every state in Australia has open applications for Hemp farming, processing, and researching licences that you could get started on tomorrow. No, you won’t be able to produce THC or CBD. Yes, you will have to comply with strict testing standards. But if you’re not breaking the rules, what’s the matter with that?
Everyone here wants the Hemp industry to continue to grow in Australia, and one of the key aspects of this industry is bound to be the exact same for Australia as in any other sector – export heavy. The real economic potential will start to shine once we’re able to supply high quality, Australian Hemp products to the world.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!