Hemp Production eGuide
Designed to support experienced producers with industrial hemp production.
The CHTA is a national organization that promotes Canadian hemp and hemp products globally. Established in 2003 the Alliance represents those involved in Canada’s hemp industry. Members include; farmers, processors, manufacturers, researchers, entrepreneurs and marketers.
The key functions of the Alliance are to disseminate information, promote the use of nutritional and industrial hemp and coordinate research.
CHTA is governed by a Board of Directors.
Since 1998, Canada has grown industrial hemp for seed and for fibre. Canadian farmers and businesses are interested in the growing business of hemp as it realizes its potential to produce healthy food and environmentally friendly products, including paper, textiles, biocomposites and sustainable building materials.
Today Canada’s hemp sector is growing to provide secure supplies of hemp seed and fibre raw materials for domestic and international markets, as well as many processed and conditioned value–added products. Canada’s federal hemp regulations help to create quality, safety and accountability. A supportive scientific research community ensures that essential and necessary research continues ~ critical for any crop.
As a fast–growing annual, hemp is a renewable, reusable and recyclable resource. Changing environmental in the world’s business community are helping to turn these green attributes into a valued quality.
Production of hemp originated in Central Asia thousands of years ago. Hemp has a long history of being used as a food grain, and as a source of fibre, such as clothing, rope and netting.
Surprisingly to some, industrial hemp has deep roots in Canada. Hemp was one of the first crops that Champlain planted at Port Royal and later Québec.
Hemp in Canada
In 1606, French Botanist Louis Hebert planted the first hemp crop in North America in Port Royal, Acadia (present–day Nova Scotia). As early as 1801, the Lieutenant Governor of the province of Upper Canada, on behalf of the King of England, distributed hemp seed free to Canadian farmers.
Fibre hemp cultivation continued in many regions to the 20th century. Through many Old World cultures, hemp seed also has a long tradition of in Canada: immigrants from Eastern Europe brought hemp seeds with them when they settled the Prairies. These they planted and used for fresh oil, baking and traditional dishes. Similarly, Chinese Canadians have also long eaten hemp for medicinal and dietary reasons.
In Canada and in the US, hemp was outlawed 70–80 years ago, because it was confused with other kinds of Cannabis. Hemp is often called industrial hemp to distinguish it from other varieties of the plant. In Canada, all commercial hemp strains are grown under science–based regulations to maintain and ensure genetic identity.
After a half century’s absence from Canada’s fields and factories, hemp cultivation was again allowed in 1998, reawakening this country’s relationship to this interesting, fascinating, flexible plant.
Botanically, hemp is classified as Cannabis sativa L. (Cannabaceae). Cannabis is a diverse plant species including more than 500 different varieties. Marijuana is a distant cousin. Under regulations hemp is defined as having less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Because of this low level, hemp is unsuitable for drug and therapeutic purposes. THC is by the plant’s epidermal glands and is not produced in the hemp seed. All Industrial Hemp grown in Canada is GMO free.
Canadian Hemp production was officially discontinued in 1938. In 1994, Health Canada began issuing hemp research licenses again. In March 1998, Health Canada allowed commercial production of the crop under a licensing system. Information on Hemp Regulations can be found at this link on Health Canada’s web site.
As with many new crops, there has been considerable fluctuation of production acreage. In 2003, over 2700 hectares (6700 acres) were grown across Canada , mostly concentrated on the Prairies. In 2015 over 84,000 acres licensed for cultivation. Hemp has been grown with success from coast–to–coast.
An Agriculture and Agri–Food Canada backgrounder is at this link.