Crop Pioneer

December 13th, 2018
Crop Pioneer
Hills local Jasper Ball is one of ten SA pioneers who have planted their first ever industrial hemp crop.

A third generation farmer on the family property Jasper is well versed in farming but this type of crop is completely new territory.

“I was looking for something different to grow in the Adelaide Hills and, I suppose, to try crack into a new market,” Jasper said.

As growing a hemp crop has never been done in South Australia, there is very little knowledge among farmers on how to grow a successful crop.

“It's complete trial and error for the first year and as much as you can read articles online, there is no one growing hemp in the Hills,” Jasper said.

“We'll learn what works and what doesn't but so far everything is perfect; the soil preparation, rainfall and climate.

“We couldn't ask for much more.”

Another part of hemp crop production is the legal side of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels which at high levels are found in marijuana.

Hemp however has less than one per cent of THC, meaning it has no narcotic effects.

“Legally we have to ensure our crop has less than one per cent of THC levels and to test that we send it off to biosecurity labs,” Jasper said.

Jasper's hopes to harvest his hemp crop in March/April and from there he will press it to produce oil.

“Hemp can be used for pretty much everything but I'll press it into oil which can in turn be used for cooking and health products like hair and skin oil,” Jasper said.

“What's left after you press the oil can be used as a protein powder.

“The other parts that can be used are the fibre which can be used for clothing and ropes.

“After you've extracted the fibre there is a part left over that can be mixed with other ingredients to make bricks for houses – there are a few houses in Mount Barker being made this way.”

The Weekender Herald columnist and Hemp Hemp Hooray business owner Teresa McDowell is a strong supporter of Jasper.

“It's really exciting to see the legislation come through and farmers like Jasper start growing hemp,” Teresa said.

Teresa was initially drawn to hemp over twelve years ago when she started her hemp business.
“Hemp has the environmental potential to heal the planet, it's such a wonderful an sustainable resource which really helps with the health of our skin and body,” she said.

Teresa hopes to work with Jasper come harvest time.

“We would love to work with Jasper as it has always been a dream to see local farmers growing hemp because we've always sourced our hemp oil from Tasmania but we really want to support our local farmers,” Teresa said.

Equally Jasper would like to keep his product local.

“We have so much great produce in the Hills and this will be another thing we could be known for,” he said.

It's clear hemp is rising in popularity across the Hills.

“I'm thrilled to be a part of the burgeoning industry and it's wonderful to see a rise in acceptance of hemp,” Teresa said.

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