Hemp fibre variety trials in Alberta

Project Details

Status: Completed
Investment: $332,500
Commodity: Multiple Crops
Organization: Canadian Rockies Hemp Corporation
Investigator: Katie Penstone

The professional expertise provided to this project will not only provide better understanding of agronomy and harvesting, but also provide farmers/processors information needed to commercialize this industry in Canada.

APRIL 2024

Research results

In 2022, Canadian Rockies Hemp Corporation (CRHC) set out to determine the best-registered hemp varieties and how to grow and harvest them for the best fibre production in Alberta.

Top performer

Out of the 3 more commonly grown dual-purpose varieties; Anka outperformed Altair and Granma in terms of fibre production and decortication yield. Granma was the lowest in both total biomass yield and decortication yield.

New varieties

Newly developed varieties like Silesia, CS, and NWG2730 have better fibre yield in terms of fibre production and decortication yield. While limited seed supply meant smaller trials, these new varieties do outperform the commonly grown dual-purpose varieties in terms of decorticated bast fibre percentage. CS and NWG2730 did struggle with emergence and resulted in a lower comparative total biomass yield, but were still comparable to dual-purpose varieties. 

Ukrainian varieties

Specifically bred Ukrainian varieties have the potential to outcompete the current varieties in Canada. Although seeded late on smaller trials, newly developed varieties Hilessia, H51 and H85 still performed well in terms of biomass yield and decorticated fibre yield. LOAC plot trials are not large enough to correlate to broad-acre production numbers, but the decorticated bast fibre percentage was higher in all three Ukrainian varieties than the six Canadian varieties. 

Soil organic carbon

No specific correlation was observed across the board in terms of soil organic carbon (SOC) and plant variety. The bigger the plant was above soil resulted in more biomass below the soil. Soil type also played a significant role in percentage of SOC increased. On average, over 10,500 acres analyzed, the average C02 sequestered equated to 5.4tonnes/acre. 

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

This value-added research project, led by Canadian Rockies Hemp Corp (CRHC), will work in collaboration with the University of Alberta, Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA), Alberta Hemp Alliance (AHA), and Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AFRED), to help hemp producers accurately identify which fibre hemp varieties are best suited for production in Alberta. Results from this project will be vital to help expand the hemp industry across Alberta.

Additionally, the results from this project will determine ideal varieties, preferred soil types, fertility, seeding, preferred crop rotations, harvesting techniques, and decortication techniques to drive the highest return for Alberta farmers and processors. This will be vital to helping expand the hemp industry across Canada.

CRHC will look to evaluate the three most commonly available Canadian dual-purpose hemp varieties against Canadian bred “fibre dominant” variety and a specialty Ukrainian bred varietal in commercial-sized trial plots in different soil types in North / Central / Eastern Alberta. CRHC firmly feels these genetics and agronomic practices will be pivotal in advancing the hemp fibre market in Alberta and Canada.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

The professional expertise provided to this project created a better understanding of agronomy and harvesting and has provided farmers/processors vital information needed to commercialize this industry in Canada.

The benefits of this project results include improving crop health, production efficiency, enhanced pest and disease management, genetic improvements, water efficiency, soil health (soil quality), nitrogen use reduction, greenhouse gas emissions, climate variability and adaptability, new value-added products, alternative agriculture products, knowledge translation and transfer to Alberta’s producers.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

The University of Alberta, in collaboration with the CHTA, the Alberta Hemp Alliance, and Alberta Agriculture/Forestry will be working with CRHC and its project partners to distribute findings/results for public use. Data will be used not only by governments, universities, and research institutes for further product and market development, but also farmers and processors to further develop commercial production.

Project results were disseminated through the CHTA Hemp Production E-Guide to expand upon best production and harvesting practices for fibre production.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.