First fibre hemp variety planted in Tasmania this season as part of trial for hempcrete

Cannabis species grown for textiles trialled in Australia

A hemp plant variety grown for fibre will be planted in Australia for the first time this season as part of a trial for hempcrete.

X-Hemp founder Andi Lucas, whose business uses discarded hemp grain stubble to create hemp hurd, said a two hectare patch of the MS77 hemp fibre variety will be grown within a much larger field of cannabis plants being grown for seeds.

She said X-Hemp, which creates hemp hurd for sustainable housing, would be unable to keep up with market demand using just the discarded waste materials of current hemp seed farming in Tasmania.


This has resulted in Ms Lucas trialling a fibre hemp variety with ECOFibre, which grows up to six metres in height, giving increased volume and biomass for fibre production.

This is in comparison to other hemp varieties which grow up to 1.5 metres.

"In Tasmania there are hectares of hemp varieties bred for seed production, which is what I have been taking and bailing, but I now realise it won't be enough," Ms Lucas said.

"This is a really small trial of a variety that hasn't been grown in Tassie before, that has performed really well in Texas last season, and big trials are being conducted on the mainland," she said.

"The trial will tell us planting density, whether it requires more or less water, and whether it will be easily harvested and bailed, and what quality of product does it create when I put it through my processor."

While Ms Lucas wants to see if the hemp fibre variety will be useful for her hempcrete business, she said hemp as a textile was starting to regain recognition.

"In 1920 some 80 per cent of fabric in the world was made up of hemp fibre and then in the 1930s there was a complete 180 degree shift into cotton and nylon. The year cannabis was made illegal, was the same year that a patent for nylon was put through," Ms Lucas said.

"This natural fibre was suddenly replaced by a synthetic fibre, and cotton.

"China, India and Nepal have continued making hemp fabric but at the moment in Australia, no hemp textiles are being manufactured in Australia."

But Ms Lucas added that while hemp fabric was not yet mainstream, larger companies were beginning to catch on to the agricultural and environmental benefits of hemp.

This includes BMW, which she said has used hemp fibre in its electric vehicle door panels due to the lightness of the material, and Levi Strauss & Co, which has pledged to produce its specialised hemp jean from a 70 per cent hemp and 30 per cent cotton blend.

This story Cannabis species grown for textiles trialled in Australia first appeared on The Examiner.