Good start to Western District fledgling hemp seed crop

Harvest off to a high: Australian Primary Hemp director James Hood, right, talks with a Western District hemp seed grower. The low THC-hemp has no drug effects.
Harvest off to a high: Australian Primary Hemp director James Hood, right, talks with a Western District hemp seed grower. The low THC-hemp has no drug effects.

The first large-scale Western District harvest of hemp seed for food got underway this week and it’s a beauty.

Australian Primary Hemp (APH) director James Hood said the quality of the seed from the 69 hectare crop of the low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) hemp harvested at Hexham this week was excellent.

Mr Hood said another 80 hectares of the low THC hemp would be harvested soon at Derrinallum, part of more than 700 hectares of the crop that APH will process from growers throughout Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Tasmania this summer.

APH is sourcing the hemp seed from 10 growers and is seeking more to supply the rising demand from health food stores throughout Australia and overseas for hemp seed and its products.

The hemp seed for food industry is expanding rapidly in Australia following the passing of legislation last year that approved the sale of low THC hemp seed for foods and other products.

Low THC hemp has no drug effects.

APH will use the hemp seed for four products – hulled hemp seeds, a hemp protein fibre meal blend, a +50 per cent hemp protein powder and hemp oil, used for cooking.

The low-THC hemp. Australian Primary Hemp uses the plant's seeds to make food products and cooking oil.

The low-THC hemp. Australian Primary Hemp uses the plant's seeds to make food products and cooking oil.

Mr Hood said hemp seed had a unique nutty flavour and was used in a variety of ways such as in salads and ice cream.

A strong demand already exists for low-THC hemp products that have built up a reputation as health foods and been sold in health food stores.

Many health food stores circumvented the former ban on the sale of low-THC hemp for food by labelling the products as being for cosmetic use.

Mr Hood said APH expected not to be able to keep up with demand for its products this year.

Western District farmer and APH grower Simon Allen the low-THC hemp had been “a great crop to grow.

The low-THC hemp can be harvested using conventional headers.

The low-THC hemp can be harvested using conventional headers.

“Its short cropping cycle has made it easy to integrate into my current cropping program,” Mr Allen said. 

Mr Hood said APH did a pilot harvest last year of 44ha of low-THC hemp. This year will be the first harvest since selling hemp seed for food became legal.

Mr Hood said hemp seed prices compared well with those for cereals and pulses.