Volunteer Hemp Could Land Farmers In Hot Water!

Volunteer Hemp Could Land Farmers In Hot Water!
Posted by FoM on August 12, 1999 at 13:00:45 PT
By Ian Bell, Brandon bureau
Source: The Western Producer
Farmers who grew industrial hemp last year could find themselves walking a legal tightrope if the crop returned this year as a volunteer plant. 
Health Canada, Manitoba Agriculture and the RCMP have all had reports of industrial hemp growing in fields not licensed for the crop. The plants grew from seeds that were shed during ripening or harvest of the crop last year. "It's a concern, but not as long as it's being handled properly," said Niels Hansen-Trip, manager of industrial hemp regulations for Health Canada. "If they're using it for illicit purposes, then of course it's a real concern to us." Last year marked the first time in 60 years that farmers could grow industrial hemp legally in Canada. A strict licensing process was put in place to screen applicants wanting to grow the crop. Sometimes referred to as marijuana's misunderstood cousin, industrial hemp lacks the levels of THC, the ingredient needed to get high. Hansen-Trip said farmers should remove any volunteer hemp found on plots not licensed for the crop. Hand roguing may now be the best option for doing that. Fields saturated by rain this spring are among the sources of volunteer hemp. Farmers with soggy soils could not get on the land to till the plants under. On the lookout Health Canada will be on the lookout for those plots. "Those are of real concern," Hansen-Trip said. "Our inspectors will try to find them. "It'll depend on the situation what will be done about it. Every situation has to be taken on its own merits." Farmers who remove and destroy the volunteer plants do not have to notify Health Canada, Hansen-Trip said. The volunteer hemp could become a nuisance at harvest time. Conventional combines have a hard time digesting the plant's tough fibres. The amount of land licensed for industrial hemp soared this year in Western Canada. The number of licensed acres climbed from less than 2,500 in 1998 to about 32,000 this year. That could translate into more volunteer hemp on prairie fields next year. But a weed specialist with Manitoba Agriculture said there is a way to keep the plants in check. Kim Brown said MCPA, a Group 4 herbicide, works well to control unwanted hemp. Now is not the best time to apply the herbicide, she said, but it could be an option for next year. A pre-seeding burnoff in the spring also works well on volunteer hemp. "We found that anything with MCPA really fries it up." Most farmers who grew industrial hemp last year seeded only small plots. It is not known how many of those plots produced volunteers this spring."I have had a few calls on it, but I don't think it's that big of a deal," Brown said. "It is controllable."Pubdate: August 12, 1999
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