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Ontario Hemp Alliance Initiates Major Industrial Hemp Breeding Project

Pain Court, Ontario

December 18, 2003

The Ontario Hemp Alliance (OHA), with the backing of several Ontario companies active in hemp processing and with the generous support of the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC),has launched a hemp breeding/seed production project. The objective is to develop hemp grain/fiber varieties with improved agronomic and quality characteristics and strong adaptation to Ontario growing conditions.

Hemp is grown for both its grain and its fiber. Hemp cultivars (or varieties) are generally classified as fiber or grain or dual purpose varieties. The grain is used for human and animal nutrition in the form of whole seeds, de-hulled hemp nut, protein supplements, gluten-free baking flour and the oil extracted from the seed in numerous food culinary applications, cosmetics, hair care and wood finishing. The fiber is derived from the straw of the stalks and has been traditionally used for rope, twine, thread and fabric. The OHA sees great potential in Ontario for hemp fiber being used as reinforcements (fiber glass replacement) for automotive parts, construction panels and moldings, brake pads, building materials, animal bedding, insulation and brick manufacturing.

All hemp varieties except for four that are currently available and approved for planting in Canada are imported from Europe and eastern Asia. Only one Canadian developed grain variety is currently adapted to Ontario.

The OHA breeding project has a budget of $121,500.00 over three years. The AAC has approved grants totaling $60,750 over three years with $51,333 already committed for the first two years. The breeding project will focus on an oilseed dual purpose cultivar with a high grain yield, large seed low in Tetrahydracannibinol (THC) and with a superior fatty acid profile, particularly those commonly known as omega-3, omega-6 and Gamma Linoleic Acid. The project will build upon research undertaken over several years involving Ridgetown College/ University of Guelph and the generous contribution of an Ontario company that was an early innovator in hemp development. The project involves the analysis and cross-breeding of nearly one hundred lines developed by Peter Dragla, Hemp breeder, Ridgetown College U of G. In the process it is assumed that varieties will also be identified for subsequent projects that exhibit good fiber and/or good bio-mass yield. The first hemp cultivar from this project is projected to be commercially available in 2008. The OHA is simultaneously developing and coordinating a seed production/processing component in partnership with Great Lakes Organic, Petrolia.

The OHA is a membership driven organization dedicated to the development of a viable hemp industry in Ontario. Its mandate is to:

The OHA will be the owner of any cultivar developed through this project and will derive royalties from the sale of the cultivar(s) thus providing sustaining income.

The AAC receives its funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through their Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development Fund. In addition to the direct benefits to the OHA and its membership, other long range impacts include:

For further information contact Claude Pinsonneault, Executive Director, Ontario Hemp Alliance. Tel: 519-352-9355, Fax: 519-352-2349 or email

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