Low prices of major commodity crops often prompt farmers to diversify their cropping options. These conditions have resulted in a recent influx of new industrial hemp producers. In the past five years, the national acreage of industrial hemp has grown about 25 per cent annually in Canada.
New, emerging opportunities related to fibre utilization for a diversity of industrial applications are expected to continue to create demand for more hemp feedstock in Alberta. Efforts to build whole hemp crop value chains, for both food and fibre, are underway in Alberta.
Industrial Hemp Harvest and Storage
Hemp Production eGuide Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance/Alliance Commercial Canadienne du chanvre
Alberta has two of the largest hemp processors in the country and a leader in their field :
BioComposites Group design and build products that exploit the extraordinary mechanical qualities of common plants and trees, such as industrial hemp and flax.
Just BioFiber Structural Solutions is an innovative group of very experienced people who choose to make the environment and sustainability the focus of our efforts.
Hemp fibre’s “Northern Advantage”
The longer hours of sunshine and cooler nights allow hemp to see a 30% increase in fibre and a higher concentration of omegas. The long dews advance retting allowing for optimum fibre quality. Stem elongation of the hemp plant occurs before flowering, meaning that northern latitudes such as the regions in this assessment, have an advantage in hemp production. With upwards of 17 hours of daylight during the growing season, hemp plants in Alberta can grow up to 15-20cm per day and reach up to 4m in height, which makes it one of the fastest growing regions in North America.
If there was one true Alberta advantage for hemp, it’s in those woody, fibrous stalks. That’s why InnoTech’s pilot fibre processing plant in Vegreville was built and remains “the only one of its kind in the world,” Jan Slaski, Principal Researcher at InnoTech Alberta, says.
“It is the beginning of a new and significant and important source of income to the industrial hemp sector. Absolutely no question about that,” he said
For the first time, hemp growers are allowed to harvest their plants’ buds, leaves and flowers, after receiving an exemption from Health Canada.
Industrial Hemp Program for Growers
The Industrial Hemp training program at NorQuest College gives you the practical skills needed to be an industrial hemp farmer, hemp processor, or a hemp business entrepreneur. Through a series of online courses taught by industry veterans such as process engineers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and farmers you will learn about the industrial hemp industry.
The Hemp Farming Course is designed for current and prospective hemp farmers. Learn the impacts of location and climate on farming hemp, the economics of hemp production for different end uses, planning and production strategies, crop management for organic and conventional crops, harvest management for different hemp end uses, and get tips and tricks about harvesting hemp from 4 farmers located in different geographic climates across Northern, Eastern and Western Canada.
Hemp Processing and Products