Hemp Crop Gains Ground!

Hemp Crop Gains Ground!
Posted by FoM on July 20, 1999 at 07:47:30 PT
1,200 hectares being grown at two area plants
Source: The London Free Press
With little hype, hemp is taking root in southern Ontario as an alternate cash crop.It was only last summer that Canada reversed a 60-year ban on the plant, whose kinship to drug-producing marijuana had led to its prohibition.
This summer, about 1,200 hectares of hemp are being grown in southern Ontario to be sold to two hemp-fibre processing plants in the area.Harvest of the fibrous stalks should start by early August -- but first, licensed agronomists will hit hemp fields in the next two weeks, testing if crops exceed the 0.3 per cent limit set by Health Canada for THC, the active ingredient in hemp's cousin plant, marijuana. As well, testers from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will do spot checks of hemp crops.Any crop with more than the allowed trace of THC must be destroyed."It's always going to be a controlled crop," says Robert L'Ecuyer, general manager of Kentex Ltd. of Chatham, which processes hemp. "It won't always be as stringent as it is now, but we need to get a level of comfort."Last summer, inspectors found only a few fields where hemp THC exceeded the government limits, set when hemp-growing became legal last year. All were traced to a particular variety, Secuiene, which has been removed from the varieties approved by Health Canada.Chatham-Kent's Kenex has about 800 hectares growing this summer, mostly in Kent County, while Delaware's Hempline has contracted for about 400 hectares from farmers in Elgin, Middlesex, Perth, Oxford and Lambeth counties.It should be a bumper crop, says Hempline's president, Geof Kime."We've had lots of heat, broken with period of moisture," says Kime, who also worked with authorized test fields of hemp grown in southern Ontario from 1994 to 1997. "This should be the best we've had in our six years."This year, hemp also qualified for crop insurance. "Innovative farmers are willing to try new crops, if they can have insurance to mitigate the risk," Kime says. "It was a nice stamp of legitimacy for the industry, so early in commercial production."Kenex's focus is the auto industry, where hemp fibres are being used to make auto parts.Hempline separates out the long, slender outer hemp fires for use in textiles -- primarily for carpet and upholstery fabrics. The company has also found success with its "hemp chips" -- horse bedding made from the stalk core. "As fast as we can produce it, it's moving out the door," he says.Now that hemp is legal and grown more widely, it's less plagued by "two-legged pests" -- Kime's term for people who think hemp is marijuana and decide to steal plants from farm fields."In 1997, we had one field where the two-legged pests were a problem, but no one came after that. They must have discovered hemp didn't have what they were looking for." By KELLEY TEAHEN, Free Press ReporterPubdate: Tuesday, July 20, 1999 Copyright  1999, Canoe Limited Partnership.
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