Volume 2, Issue 12,June 2000 ISSN 1488-3988
Part Two of Three Parts
© 2000 AHEM, ARTHUR HANKS
Bulk Wholesale distribution.
Watch for our Retail Product Line launch in July 2000!!
Distributors, brokers, & retailers welcome! ...the seed you need!
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Tel: 204-275-7616, Fax: 204-261-7270
email: firstname.lastname@example.org web site: www.hempoilcan.com
Location, location, location
By Jon Cloud
I would like to thank the readers who have responded to my articles on organic hemp production. Everyone has been very appreciative and enthusiastic about exploring the possibilities of growing hemp organically. One of the primary observations by the readers is in the form of a query. They are curious as to how a producer could be so enlightened as to want to grow hemp but not make the connection about organic production. The answer resides within the heart of each individual farmer. Whether you are a conventional spray boy or an organic farmer, there are two key factors that influence the success and failure of the crop. This article is about location. The second key is seedbed preparation which will be addressed in the next issue.
The most important decision you can make regarding hemp production will be the location. Hemp production success, like the three tenets of retailing, are location, location, location. The first location stands for the physical positioning of the field in relation to roads and access by the general public. Local newspapers and radio stations have been supportive in getting the word about Canada's new crop into the public's awareness. However, this publicity has its draw back. Farmers' names and addresses have been publicised. Invariably this has brought a steady stream of people ranging from curiosity seekers to common thieves willing to steal or trample the livelihood of farmer. Fields located to close to the road or within easy access have provided disappointing and financially disastrous results. So consider the location of your field.
The second location represents soil types. The selection of fields with poor drainage or heavy soil types are problematic when it comes to producing hemp. The heavy soils can clod or ball up and prevent the uniform seeding and consistent emergence. The preparation of a fine seed bed is critical in the success of hemp production. Soils with excellent fertility and good drainage will facilitate a rapid emergence and even uniform crop with good yields.
The location of the fields as it relates to heat units is also important. Many varieties are sensitive to THC levels and direct correlations have been proven. Some varieties can not be grown in high heat unit areas without exceeding the THC levels. Normal agricultural practices for corn and soybeans also focus on specific varieties for specific heat unit areas. The future will bring hemp varieties that are better suited for our climate and bio-regions. Check the variety and make sure you are selecting one suitable for your heat unit area.
Remember the three tenets of retailing are the same as hemp production, location, location, location.
Jon Cloud is an Ontario-based organic farmer, contractor and educator who is a frequent contributor to the HCFR. He can be reached at email@example.com . His next article (to appear in HCFR #13, July-August 2000), will be on seedbed preparation: "You have made your bed; now you have to sleep in it"
British Columbia: Peace Region Research
Thanks to Kerry Clark, BCMAF
The Hemp Committee and the Research Committee of the BC Grain Producers Association have conducted trials with industrial hemp in 1998 and 1999. The purpose of the trials was to provide some varietal and agronomic information on such topics as seeding rates, fertility and seeding dates (1999) so that there would be some guidelines under Peace River conditions, for growers trying this crop. This is a preliminary summary, a final report will be available at a later date.
This was the first year for legal commercial production, with Health Canada issuing licenses for each phase of activity. Seed distribution and field activity had a late start. The trials were seeded on June 3, and the hemp emerged quickly and grew well even though growing conditions were very dry, combined with above average evaporation. Unfortunately, the hemp trials were destroyed by a severe hailstorm on August 3. The hemp made some recovery with limited new growth, but frost ended this development so no harvest was possible. Other than drought, there was a problem with a lygus bug infestation that required control by spraying. Nearby infested canola fields were the likely source.
In 1999, dry weather and a cold spring affected the emergence of some varieties and dry conditions again affected growth and seed yield. Yields were 25-35% at Dawson Creek and 50% at Fort St. John of what could have been expected in a good year in other regions of western Canada where hemp has been tried. Even under 1999 conditions some varieties reached a height of 5 feet. Each trial with a summary of the data is presented. Besides the trials conducted at Dawson Creek, the variety trial was also seeded at Ft. St. John.
For the complete study go to:
(For more BC news check out our Cross-Canada Crop Report in this Issue!)
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Cross Canada Crop Report 2000
From East to West
Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley Hemp is moving ahead from last year with a full range of projects, some commercial. Breaking ground on April 10th with their first crop, they planted 240 acres of hemp by June 1st, all of it FIN 314. About 55 acres of this is organic, but needs to be certified as such. More organic acreage is wanted, but according to AVH's Mike Lewis, much of their available land base is "old and tired"; the best land in their region goes towards onion and carrot crops that can reap up to $20,000 an acre. Still, some of their crop is anticipating large yields.
While AVH has fibre processing ambitions, including enzyme-based fibre separation and pressing for fibreboard, these remain at the r&d stage. AVH is also working on a pulp with Bolton Emerson's Tornado system. Short-term targets include working on oilseed and oilseed derivative projects. Some product will be sold to France, where it will be made into cosmetic products with an eye on a December launch. Fish feed is also being looked at.
Looking good! Five-and-a-half weeks old FIN 314 flourishing in the Annapolis Valley (photo courtesy of Mike Lewis, Annapolis Valley Hemp)
Chuck Schom is working on a more detailed analysis of his 1998 and 1999 results in New Brunswick (see HCFR #1, May 99 for more), and is completing analysis on plant material collected in the 1999 trials. Field research is on hold as hemp holds a low priority in New Brunswick right now as cutbacks and downsizing affect the agricultural portfolio. "From my perspective that is probably just as well," says Schom "As there is considerably more information that can be gained from further analysis of the data (than extending the trials this year)."
The Montreal area has about 400 acres of FIN 314 in the ground, much if not all will be certified organic; Hempco's Jerzzy Przytyk is acting as an advisor to this group. Fibrex Québec is concentrating on their flax but are also growing small amounts of hemp (please see feature profile in Part I of this issue)
Chatham, Ontario's Kenex is taking took a very conservative approach in 2000 in light of the western Canadian surplus. "We have decided to buy some of our requirements from Western Canada as our own inventory gets low next winter, "says Kenex's Jean-Marie Laprise. "This could apply for both grain and fibre. This seems to be the logical approach to helping in this unfortunate situation." Kenex has contracted a small acreage for grain and seed to insure some supply of specific quality requirements. Laprise added: "I find it hard to believe that there are 8,000 plus acres (seeded) in Canada this year, given the large surplus. Someone must have outstanding markets or a lack of business sense."
As dedicated fibre growers and processors, Hempline are unaffected by many of the problems affecting the rest of Canadian industry. Geof Kime says his company has enough inventory, and can forego growing fresh fibre this year. The focus is on market development and gaining solid commitments from customers.
Kime says that much is happening in the composites sectors, and that the interest from the paper sector is coming on. While using hemp fibres in pulping is expensive, the quality of hemp's fibres is attractive. There is also interest in the construction products sector. Sales of HempChips are also strong and Hempline is busy filling backorders. One cross-market for the product that has emerged is the gardening/mulching market.
"Interest (in hemp fibre) for mainstream applications is predominately based on the technical and physical characteristics, as well as price," says Kime. "The environmental appeal of hemp is still out there, but it's usually for the smaller-size businesses."
Hempline is comfortable with their wide range of fibres and different ranges of cleanliness they have available. Kime admits more processing capacity is also needed and thinks that as a whole, the Canadian hemp industry must attract more capital investment to fund necessary market development.
"The equity markets traditionally stay away from agriculture, " he says, noting that Hempline is more properly viewed as a technology company. "Agriculture has a reputation as a mature industry, a declining one, that carries high risk and is capital intensive. Once you get past government grants, there isn't much out there. Hemp carries some baggage because its agriculture, and because its ...hemp!"
Ontario's Hempola is excited about their new oil maximising process. In June, they achieved a record 40% crude oil yield from Ontario grain, along with a low THC of 1.2 micrograms per gram and 3% GLA. "Beautiful oil with a very nice flavour profile, " says Hempola's Greg Herriot. Their high extraction of oil and their high quality separation of hulls from the meal is making for better flour. As a buyer, Hempola is working with growing groups across the country; as a processor they are examining the regional and varietal differences in grain and oil, ranging from colour, to fatty acid profiles, to flavour characteristics.
At their new location at Hempola Valley Farms outside of Barrie, Hempola will be open to the public July 1, Canada day. On site crops of Fasamo and Felina will be open to the public; the farm has high public access 20,000 bypassing cars a day according to Ontario Tourism.
Cloud Mountain has some organic acreage in the ground last year, the company contracted several hundred acres in The West and in Ontario (Update by next issue.)
There are about 20+ acres of commercial grain production contracted this year in Northern Ontario. As well, there is a certified seed production project (Rainy River District Seed Growers). A parallel pilot seed multiplication project has been set up involving a partnership of Kenex Ltd., Rainy River District Seed Growers, Purity Seed and Thunder Bay Hemp Growers' Association. This two-year project will involve Anka and produce Certified and foundation seed in 2000; in 2001 Certified seed will be grown from 2000's produced foundation seed plus see the foundation of another new variety from Kenex. One goal will be to capture southern -Ontario grown (42 degrees) Anka's adaptability to more northern 46 degrees latitude.
Gordon Scheifele, University of Guelph's Northern Research Co-ordinator, is in the third year of his Northern Ontario research. Five research stations are involved and involve a number of grain and fibre trials that will build upon and add to his previous findings. Though supported by U of Guelph and Ag Canada (at the Kapuskasing location), the research project did not receive OMAFRA support this year, threatening plans for grain quality and component analysis unless funding comes through.
Over the past three years, hemp's biggest hopes and disappointments have been in Manitoba. This year, the province has 6000+ acres in the ground and is still a beehive of hemp activity. Some ambitions have been salted a bit though.
"Retrench and rebuild is par for the course of any New Crop," observes consultant Jack Moes of the Great Ag Venture. "It's typical with new crops that there's a lot of enthusiasm to start with; things rush ahead and then people rein it in. Market development never moves as fast. The good news is that market developments are proceeding it's just not going as quickly as some people like."
As reported in HCFR #11, Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers have planted in the range of 4000-6000 acres this year, and are negotiating with potential big volume buyers for last year's unsold surplus of 5 million lbs.
Cloutier Agra Seeds is contracting in the 1000-1200 acres range involving a few different cultivars this year and building on their close relationship with Hemp Oil Canada. According to HOC's Shaun Crew, the company is "busy and backlogged" with bulk processing and will soon have a launch of their retail line of hemp food products, including Prairie Emerald Oil, Hemp Nuggets (dehulled seed), gel capsules and My Stash toasted hempseeds. Later in the summer, the line will be joined by Premium Prairie Hemp Coffee, flour and protein powder.
Fresh Hemp Foods is nicely positioned in terms of supply. Besides maintaining a first right of refusal agreement with Parkland, the Winnipeg-based food company has contracted for hemp grain (USO) in three regions in the province. This acreage, roughly, could be as high as 1500 acres, says Fresh Hemp's Mike Fata. FHF prefers USO because of its large seed size for processing, negligible THC content and competitive nutritional profile
Fresh Hemp has experienced a good year of growth and are looking towards building their own production facility, and have just entered the European market with their established line of dehulled seed, flour, oil and capsules. New products are under development for a fall launch.
According to Fata, the Manitoba Industrial Hemp Association will be lobbying Health Canada to accept alternative THC testing procedures allowing for NIRS spectography technology to be used instead of traditional gas chromatography assays. Switching technologies would speed up the turn-around time of testing, and offer considerable savings in price to producers
Saquet Farms is one operation working with Fresh Hemp. According to Rene Saquet, his grower's group is cultivating about 400 acres of USO 31 destined for FHF and others; he says Prairie Hemp has become a group of dedicated and experienced growers who can produce quality hempseed for a committed market. In other words, no speculation here.
"The Canadian hemp industry is still in reasonable shape," says Saquet. "We just need to have the people involved take a step back and look at where we've been and where we are going. Once we are through this glut of seed and everyone grows for a committed market we will be OK. Manitoba has experienced growers and provided these growers don't lose interest, they will benefit. "
Saquet adds that to really make hemp a valid crop in Canada the fibre side of the equation must be developed. Once fibre comes online, hemp will have come of age. (continued; see Manitoba Ag; down)
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(Cross-Canada Crop Report continued from above)
Manitoba Agriculture is working on some varietal evaluations, herbicide work, seeding data and is also looking at fibre quality and oil profiles. Man Ag's Bruce Wilson thinks that hemp is a good fit in Manitoba's agricultural sector, but recognises the limited market so far. "We've had pretty good growth (the surplus notwithstanding) so far," he says. "If the market can absorb this year's crop, and some of the surplus is sold off, we are in pretty good shape." He thinks that premium markets have to be found for hempseed to make grain production worthwhile and speculates that the healthy pet food market could be a worthwhile one.
Fibre of course is not to be overlooked and the many obstacles that come with it are not too daunting. "People in agriculture love their technology challenges," Wilson says.
As part of the Emerson Hemp Company, Wally Empson grew commercial grain crops with CGP in '98 and '99. This year he has a small commercial crop and a fibre research project. For the fibre research, he is licensed by Health Canada to use non-pedigreed seed.
By Empson's analysis, using non-pedigreed seed for fibre growing moves the seed costs down from $3 a lb. to 50 cents a lb. For a dedicated fibre crop, with their thicker seeding rates, the savings in using non-pedigreed seed are substantial. The farmer also doesn't have to invest in the equipment or time to harvest a dual use crop. After harvest, the fibre will be tested at the University of Manitoba and the values will be compared with the fibre coming from dual-use crops.
Empson points out that Health Canada has mandated pedigreed seed in hemp production, as part of their efforts to control THC and cannabis proliferation. A dedicated fibre crop would be harvested before flowering, so the risk of volunteer crops would be lessoned. If this project could show that THC is not an issue, some interesting possibilities may open up.
Canterra Seeds indicates that while they haven't matched last year's seed sales for their Fasamo cultivar, and that tallies from their commercial vendors will not be in until July, an early estimate was that Fasamo sold in the 2500 acre range.
R & D Hemp are contracting 300 acres of certified organic grain, almost equally across the three Prairie provinces. While R&D grew Fasamo last year, this year the choice was left to the farmers, many have picked Ukrainian varieties. R&D is absorbing some risk in contracting, and has arranged a "weighted" pay scale for grain, with low yields earning more for lb. of grain, and high yields a little less per lb.
R&D has retained Jack Moes of the Great AgVenture as their grower's consultant and are continuing their breeding program under Al Slinkard of the University of Saskatchewan. According to principal Ruth Shamai, R&D's contract for supplying the Body Shop has been renewed, and the company will also exclusively supply Ruth's Hemp Foods. An arrangement has been made with BC's CHII Industries, who will be selling unwanted raw materials.
Gen-X Research is coming off a good season of sales of FIN 314, selling enough for 2500 acres from coast-to-coast and in province (1000 acres is certified organic while 1500 acres is conventional and planting seed.) Manager Sasha Przytyk says that Gen-X is contracting all of the organic production and about half of the conventional. "Gen-X is still focussing on providing the best quality organic and conventional hemp for food processors," he adds. He adds that 10 research stations across the country are working with FIN, including extensive trials in Melfort.
Regina's BioHemp Technologies has committed to purchasing 100 tonnes of certified organic production from Gen-X for their organic foods and nutraceutical line. Since moving to Saskatchewan this spring, BioHemp has been working with innovative small manufacturers to develop new products for their Mum's line. According to BioHemp's Jason Freeman, the company has also formed some key distributor relationships in the organics industry.
The Saskatchewan Hemp Association gives a high end estimate of up to 2500 acres in the ground across the province.
CanAg Research and Development has been holding grower's recruitment meetings across Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan this spring. CRDC is working with several commodity crops and hemp is part of the mix. As a vendor for the Canterra seed network, they are well supplied with Fasamo. While the company has been keeping a low profile at the moment, word is that they are working on new markets, new products and raising support.
Alberta Agriculture's Stan Blade says that the provinces research work is continuing, and building on last year's efforts (see HCFR #11). There is some organic production in the province, and while commercial production on an ambitious scale seems not to have taken root, there is some activity, likely in the 600-800 acre range.
Robert Bucher seeding (photo courtesy of Catherine Kendall)
In British Columbia, hemp has moved north; there is no production on any significant scale south of the Cariboo Around Prince George, Robert Bucher of P &R Farms has planted 400+ acres of FIN 314 between his own land and that of the nearby Lheidli t'eneh reserve (Shelley band)
P &R Farms are selling their organic hemp products (organic hempseed bread, hemp bars, and roasted seeds) as well as organic pork sausage, farm eggs and veggies at the PG Farmer's Market on Saturdays. Good exposure for hemp but reportedly some people still refuse to try samples.
The Shelley Band's goal is work towards manufacturing enviro-friendly lubricant oil (a hemp/ safflower plus mix) to serve large industry in Prince George. They are applying for organic status.
The Gitsegukla band, a Gitxsan First Nation community located near South Hazelton on the road to Prince Rupert, is continuing with their hemp initiative. Researchers are now in the second year of a three-year project to evaluate several varieties of hemp for their potential as crops for oil and fibre. The third year of the project will involve the commercialisation of hemp stalk and seeds. Research will also continue in year three.
The research team includes Dr. Jane Young, a biologist from the University of Northern BC, Dave Reindeau, district agrologist from the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries, and Dave Ryan, Gitsegukla Hemp project co-ordinator.
Jane Young is intrigued by the fibre side and in-depth laboratory analysis that is a part of the project, involving crops of Kompolti, Ferimon and Fedrina. Grain-wise the Gitsegukla are committed to pursuing organic methods using the FIN 314 cultivar. Fertiliser trials are being conducted on Kompolti and FIN 314.
In the short term, field and greenhouse trials and laboratory studies will drive the project towards the objective of creating a sustainable and community-based cottage industry. In a region plagued by high unemployment, it's projected that between 20-40 jobs will be created farming and a further 20 to 40 jobs when processing begins.
Partners in the project include the Gitsegukla Band Council and their Economic Development Society, the Indian Affairs and Northern Development Commission, The University of Northern BC, BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and the National Research Council.
Vancouver-based Canadian Hemp Corp is contracting very little acreage this year, but are interested in buying available grain. " We thought it would be best if we didn't plant this year, "says President Rick Plotnikoff, "We want to help farmers move their surplus."
CHC is doing a little bit of pressing, some on a pilot scale in the Vancouver area and most in Manitoba. They are still looking at setting up commercial operations in BC. In the meanwhile, they are selling some oil to US cosmetic markets and developing new products. Gel caps will be released soon, shampoo and power bar projects are under development. CHC is also now selling organic fertiliser.
CHC is also buying small amounts of fibre, 10-20 t. to start with and are working with another Vancouver-area group on this secretive project.
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End of Part II
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