Will and Jean Van Roessel of Specialty Seeds in Bow Island are growers of pedigreed hemp seed. “This is our third year of growing hemp, and we’ve been growing some of it as pedigreed seed for one of the seed companies, and some of it is for commercial grain production,” said Will.
This year, Will seeded 350 acres, all of which are irrigated. “Every acre of hemp that gets planted in Canada is supposed to be planted with pedigreed seed. That’s one way that Health Canada monitors what’s happening in the industry. Every hemp grower needs a licence from Health Canada and in order to fulfil that licence you need to buy pedigreed seed for every field, every year,” he explained.
Will says hemp isn’t very high maintenance. “It’s similar to canola in terms of fertilizer inputs, but really there’s not much other inputs other than maybe some weed control depending on the situation. The cost is probably similar to growing wheat. For us we would consider it to be a very cheap crop to grow in terms of input costs.”
The Serecon study for the Alberta government estimates total costs of producing hemp at $227.20 per acre for dryland with returns between $280 and $800 depending on yield. Irrigated costs are estimate at $302.55 with returns of $500-$1,500.