30 November 2001

Hemp crops written off

HEMP crops are a write-off in the West Country for the second year running, this time because the exceptionally dry autumn delayed the retting process.

Unsaleable crops will earn area aid only, provided they were grown on IACS-registered land or non-IACS land that grew hemp or flax in the previous three years.

Growers say costs, including seed, cultivations, drilling, contract cutting and tedding to dry the crop after retting, may exceed the area payment.

There have been problems, admits John Hobson of UK processor Hemcore. "We are desperate to get more hemp grown, so next year we will be giving growers the option of using a desiccant before cutting to reduce the time the cut crop has to be left in the field. It could also allow growers to harvest the seed (using a stripper header) before cutting the rest for fibre." &#42