HEMP SET FOR NEW HIGH

Al­bany farmer David His­cox will har­vest the first in­dus­trial hemp crop in the re­gion and hopes there are more to come.

Albany Extra - - Front Page - Saskia Adysti

Al­bany man David His­cox has taken a bold step into in­dus­trial hemp pro­duc­tion and is en­cour­ag­ing more WA farm­ers to em­brace the crop.

Mr His­cox grew his first in­dus­trial hemp this sea­son and said he was amazed to see how fast his crop had grown over the past few months.

The hemp-grow­ing sea­son ranges from 100-120 days and Mr His­cox was ex­cited to see his plants grow 10cm ev­ery week.

“One of my big­gest chal­lenge is ir­ri­ga­tion, be­cause I have had to ex­tend the sprin­klers a cou­ple of times al­ready due to the height of the crop,” he said.

Mr His­cox said the crop nor­mally re­quired a min­i­mal amount of ir­ri­ga­tion and did not need her­bi­cides and pes­ti­cides.

“This plant also has 10-times car­bon se­ques­tra­tion abil­ity than trees, as it takes only one year to grow,” he said.

“I think its po­ten­tial is ab­so­lutely huge.”

Hemp grow­ers were able to use ev­ery part of the plant, Mr His­cox said. “They make fab­ric out of it – ropes and also can­vas,” he said.

“It’s stronger than car­bon fi­bre and also lighter.”

De­spite its ben­e­fits, grow­ing in­dus­trial hemp was only le­galised by the State Gov­ern­ment early last year.

Hemp has had a bad rep­u­ta­tion in the past be­cause many peo­ple com­pared it to the cannabis plant.

How­ever, un­like cannabis which can con­tain up to 30 per cent tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol — the prin­ci­pal psy­choac­tive con­situent of cannabis, in­dus­trial hemp has only 0.35 per cent THC. All hemp grow­ers have to ap­ply for a li­cence through the Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional Devel­op­ment and li­cences will only be ap­proved with strict con­di­tions, in­clud­ing mak­ing ev­ery­one signs a visi­tor book.

Mr His­cox said the Gov­ern­ment was slowly changing the way it gov­erned crop pro­duc­tion. “You still have to be li­censed to grow this — be­cause of the na­ture of the beast,” he said.

“This could be a huge in­dus­try here on the south coast if peo­ple wanted to di­ver­sify from nor­mal agri­cul­ture.”

Mr His­cox is a mem­ber of the Western Aus­tralian Hemp Grow­ers’ Co-operative, which was formed in Bun­bury in April.

He hopes his re­search and devel­op­ment of in­dus­trial hemp will help peo­ple in the com­mu­nity open their eyes to the crop and be­come more ac­cept­ing of its use.

Pic­ture: Lau­rie Ben­son

Pic­tures: Lau­rie Ben­son

Al­bany hemp grower David His­cox.

Seed heads on David His­cox’s hemp crop.

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