Western Australian hemp growers and enthusiasts were privileged to host and learn from two experts in the industry over the Easter long weekend.
Christophe Fevrier, CEO of French co-operative HEMP-it, and John Muir, Hemp Agronomist, Hemp Farming Systems Consultancy, Queensland were invited by the newly hatched WA Hemp Growers Co-op to share knowledge and ideas about how a sustainable hemp industry may be achieved in WA.
The information seminars took place in Cowaramup, Albany and Perth over April 1-3 and attracted over 100 attendees including licensed growers, potential growers, manufacturers, researchers and those with a general interest in the crop and its multitude of end products.
Mr Fevrier, who also sits on the board of the French hemp breeding association (FNPC), spoke about some of the technical aspects of growing hemp as a commercial crop, the importance of the breeding program, and the specific skills and equipment required to manage a highly viable hemp seed business.
His main message was that selecting the right variety is fundamental to the crop’s success.
‘You first need to decide what you are growing the crop for, that being grain, fibre or straw,’ said Christophe.
‘Then, you need to select a variety that will firstly, grow in your area and secondly, maximise the yield of your selected purpose.’
‘If you get the variety right you are half way to being a successful hemp grower,’ said Christophe.
John Muir reinforced these messages in his presentation.
‘Australia is challenging due to the size of our country,’ John said.
‘WA alone crosses several degrees of latitude and climate types and there is no point planting a variety that is not designed to grow in your climatic region.’
‘WA will need to trial a number of different varieties based on region and on the crops purpose i.e. seed or fibre production,’ John said.
The event, supported by funding from Farming Together, was hosted by WA Hemp Growers Co-op (WAHGC), which is still in its formation phase but has hit the ground running.
Founding member Gail Stubber said one of the first objectives of the co-op is to find suitable hemp varieties to grow in different regions of WA.
‘We chose to invite Mr Fevrier based on his extensive experience in the hemp industry, his involvement with running a successful co-op and his experience in developing new hemp varieties,’ said Gail.
‘He has been extremely generous in the information he has shared and we look forward to strengthening this relationship and deciding together which French varieties might grow best in WA.’