Industrial Hemp was commercially produced as early as the 1800’s in many parts of the world. It was used to manufacture rope, cloth, sails and paper etc. The seed was crushed for oil, food and livestock feed. The introduction of cotton and petroleum products and new processing techniques for these products lead to the demise of the hemp industry in the early 1900’s. Legislated changes in North America at the time also made the propagation of known varieties virtually impossible.
Industrial hemp production has remained legal throughout most of the world. The world hemp fibre market continues to be dominated by many of the low cost producers. China, South Korea, and the Former Soviet Union produce about 70% of the world supply. China alone produces about three fourths? of the world supply of hemp fibre. Until the early 2000’s, there has been a steady decline of world acreage.
In the 1930’s, the anti-marijuana crusade gained momentum in North America with the passage of an act in the USA that prohibited its use and circulation. Canada followed suit in 1938 with the passage of the Opium and Narcotics Control Act. This was basically the end of hemp production in North America until the mid 1990’s. Hemp varieties with low THC(delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) levels have been developed, and in March of 1998 the ban was lifted, permitting the production of hemp under license with Health Canada. Canada has adopted a THC level of 0.3 per cent as the concentration that separates non-narcotic from narcotic cultivars. Most varieties being grown in Canada today have originated in Eastern European countries. In the past few years, Canadian adapted varieties have been registered and are becoming available.
In Canada, Industrial Hemp is viewed as a new alternative crop, that compliments prairie crop production rotations. It breaks the traditional crop disease cycles affecting cereals while offering enhanced cropping profits for farm businesses.
Manitoba Industrial Hemp Industry
Manitoba growers have been quick to see the potential of the crop after industrial hemp was licensed for production in Canada. Hemp grows in Manitoba in a wide variety of climate and soil types, making it ideal for areas of the province that do not have the option of some of the longer season crops like beans and sunflowers.
Manitoba Farmers have been very innovative in growing, and in particular, harvesting the crop. A crop that can be up to 10 to 12 feet tall has some challenges at harvest time. Producers have made many of the necessary equipment modifications at the farm level to overcome many of the obstacles.The Industrial Hemp Industry is a new industry in Western Canada. Existing Manitoba grain processors includeHemp Oil Canada (Ste. Agathe, MB), Manitoba Harvest (Winnipeg, MB), and Hempco (McGregor, MB). These companies primarily crush industrial hemp grain for oil, de-hull for the nut, protein powder, flour, milk and other products. Other grain processing companies using Manitoba hemp grain are located in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec..
Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers Coop Ltd. (PIHG) in Dauphin is a grower directed Co-op that has a Manitoba plant breeding program that has Manitoba/Western Canada adapted varieties available for grain and fibre production. They have dedicated growers prepared to grow hemp for either grain or fibre. PIHG also facilitates contracts for growers.
Fibre processing is in the development stages in Manitoba. At present the Emerson Hemp Distribution Company is the only company that processes raw hemp fibre into specific useful components. Plains Industrial Hemp Processing (PIHP) is currently under construction in Gilbert Plains, Manitoba and should be operational in 2013.
Manitoba grain production is summarized in Table 3. The data was taken from Manitoba Crop Insurance seeded acreage reports. Table 3 indicates the total acres licensed each year by Health Canada. The industry has grown by about 20% each year. The increased production has been in response to the growing demand for grain and processed products. 2006 saw an acerage jump due to the increased contracting, high yields, economics and non contracted production. 2007 saw a drop of acres due to the carry over inventory and the positive economics of producing other more traditional crops. Acres were in demand in 2012 and contracted by processors. This data is created in November of each year and may be subject to change.
Table 3: Manitoba Industrial Hemp Acres
|Year||Acres in Manitoba1||Ave Grain_Yield per acre (Lbs.), MB1||Licensed acres in Canada 2|
|1 - Source: Manitoba Management Plus Program 2 - Source: Health Canada|