Stable hemp acres expected across Prairies

Western Canadian farmers are seeding the same number of hemp acres this spring as they did last year, says an industry official.

About 100,000 acres were contracted last year, said Kim Shukla of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, although only 90,000 acres were seeded.

She expects this year’s total will fall into the same neighbourhood.

“We’re not expecting any huge spike in increase in acres this year,” she said.

Shukla said the numbers are in line with industry projections from a few years ago, with growth increasing from 8,000 acres in 2008.

“One of the things that we can say is that there is a very close connection, probably more so than some other crops, between the market demand and the processors and the producers,” said Shukla.

“They’re very close together and having a conversation so we can ensure that we’re not sitting on any huge volumes of product. The industry is growing incrementally well in all sectors.”

Saskatchewan has led the country in hemp production since 2013, and Shukla expects the same for this year.

“That whole northern area around Carrot River certainly is a really hotbed for hemp.”

Shukla said the industry is preparing to make a submission to Canadian regulators that could pave the way for hemp’s use in poultry seed. Studies have been conducted into the effects of using hemp seed, oil and a byproduct of protein powder production.

“There’s quite a bit of this byproduct available, and for us it was just looked at as another opportunity, rather than it be at this point in time disposed of as waste,” said Shukla.

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