HIGH HOPES FOR HEMP
Successful back-to-back harvests have convinced a Mid Canterbury
partnership that growing hemp has a long-term future.
This season's harvest from an 8ha unidentified site in Mid-Canterbury
is being produced into hemp seed oil by Ashburton's Midlands Seed and
Oil Seed Extractions for the domestic health and organic market.
The companies formed a partnership two years ago to work through
legislation surrounding the commercial production of hemp.
Licensed by the Ministry of Health, they are the only company growing
commercial quantities of the plant in the country.
The Ashburton companies are in their third year of trials with a
decision on the legal production of the crop expected to be made in
Parliament later this year.
Hemp has low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive
substance found in the plant's distant relative marijuana.
Marijuana has a 25 per cent THC level, but strong licensing laws
enforce all hemp to be rejected with a level of more than 0.35%.
Oil Seed Extractions business manager Andrew Davidson said the hemp
seed oil was a small market with potential to expand, subject to the
He said the Mid-Canterbury partnership was working closely with its
licensing authority to ensure all regulations and THC criteria were
being strictly followed.
"Agronomically it is performing well and we would like to continue to
grow the crop and increase our production areas as the market
continues to grow," he said.
Profits were promising and with the increasing yield in the March
harvest the returns were comparable with other growing options in
Canterbury, he said.
Davidson said the police were working with growers to ensure all
visitors to the crop were signed in and there was no
Midlands Seed director Duncan Storrier said responsible hemp growers
were in favour of strong production regulation so consumers would
maintain confidence in hemp products.
"A suitable cost should not encroach on the economic feasibility of
the hemp production process, but should be significant enough to deter
anyone with non-legitimate interests in the production of this crop,"
Hemp is valued for its seed oil which has health giving properties and
can be used for an ingredient in pestos and dips.
The extraction rate for oil from hemp seed is between 20% to
Oil is separated by cold pressing to ensure there is no exposure from
cessive light, air or heat.
Davidson said hemp seed oil contains essential fatty acids that help
the immune system, brain health and wound healing and for insulating
Another fatty acid in the oil helps reduce eczema, acne and
premenstrual tension symptoms, he said.