‘We call this 3-year project, Agronomic Influences on Fiber and Grain Yield in Industrial Hemp, our hemp agronomy 2.0,’ says Mike Gretzinger, research coordinator at Farming Smarter. ‘We have been dabbling in hemp for 7 or 8 years now.’

Jan Slaski of InnoTech Alberta first approached Faming Smarter to look at growing industrial hemp in southern Alberta. From 2014 to 2017 Slaski led the collaborative project, Hemp: Best Management Practice, with plots grown by Farming Smarter in the Lethbridge area, InnoTech Alberta by Vegreville and SARDA Ag Research in the Peace Region.

‘When that wrapped up, we wanted to continue with some of the things we saw in the first trials,’ explains Gretzinger ‘We are looking for new ideas, new thresholds and new practices. We are growing on that first iteration.’

The first study included a seeding rate trial, seeding date trial and a fertility trial, which showed that hemp is responsive to nitrogen. The team produced a nitrogen response curve.

‘We found out that 200 kg per hectare total nitrogen throughout the year was the optimum total available to get that ideal grain yield,’ notes Gretzinger. ‘We also found that most of that goes to biomass, especially on the taller, bigger varieties. That’s the benchmark that we look at now when we do our fertility studies.’

He says that for the latest project, which is in its second year, the team decided to look more at the methods and timings of growing hemp as a lot of growers try to optimize logistics when seeding.

‘We have some dribble banding, and some producers are fertigating. We want to see if the foliar applications are beneficial to hemp. We’re also looking at phosphorus because when you're maximizing yield, you’re limiting phosphorus. We’re playing with the rates – half rate, full rate or a one and a half rate.’

Gretzinger says that Farming Smarter’s hemp agronomy program probably has the most extension connected to it. The hemp agronomy session from the 2019 Lethbridge Field School is just one example.

‘With the tours and everything that we do, we have found that everyone has an interest in hemp,’ Gretzinger adds. ‘Random buddies phone me up and want to know about it because their cousin is looking to grow it on their farm. A lot of people who might grow it are fairly new to it, so they want to get the basics down.’

Funding for this project was provided by the Governments of Canada and Alberta through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership under the Accelerating the Advancement of Agricultural Innovation Program. In Alberta, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership represents a federal-provincial investment of $406 million in strategic programs and initiatives for the agricultural sector.


Connect with Farming Smarter about this project:

Phone: 403-317-0022
Email: [email protected]

For more information about the Canadian Agricultural Partnership:
Phone: 310-FARM (3276)

For media inquiries about this article, call Alberta Agriculture and Forestry's media line:
Phone: 780-422-1005