Back to Articles

Alberta College Offering Hemp Production Course

By Spencer Myers
Staff Writer

As hemp production jumps across the Prairies, more first-time producers are being drawn to the crop, prompting an Alberta college to offer a course in how to grow it.

NorQuest College offers two courses, one on hemp production and another on processing and products. The Edmonton community college aims to equip continuing education students with the skills to produce the crop and work in the associated industries, said program developer Andrea Eriksson.

She says they began by consulting with established growers who are already producing the crop in Western Canada because they’ve already got a handle on how the fast-growing, tough-strawed crop fits into a farm’s operations.

“It’s a bit of a different crop than growers are used to,” she said.

The college curriculum stresses how farmers need to have a clear plan before growing the crop. Plans for end use, proximity to a processing plant and soil type are only some of the factors to keep in mind.

Another important factor is the processors, that each have a unique market and therefore unique requirements for growers.

“Farmers are having to negotiate with a lot of these end businesses that are selling to the consumers, and each of these different customers has different specifications,” Eriksson said.

That can mean different seeding rates, harvest timing, fertilizer recommendations and what crop protection products are acceptable.

Another important factor that will inform many of the production decisions is where the growers intend to market the crop, and that includes which varieties to seed.

“If you’re looking for a seed application, you’d want… cultivars that are lower to the ground and maximizing the number of leaves and flowering heads that are produced,” Eriksson said.

“Whereas in a textile application your seeding density will be slightly higher, you’d want more biomass created with more crowding so that the stalks grow taller.”

This article was originally published in the August 8th, 2019 edition of the Manitoba Co-operator. 

Click HERE to read the full article by Spencer Myers.