How Hemp is Becoming Western Canada’s New Canola
Investing in Hemp Genetics for a Profitable Future
As one of western Canada’s largest and most innovative hemp processing facilities, Blue Sky Hemp Ventures understands the unique opportunities and challenges facing hemp farmers. With hemp becoming an increasingly profitable crop, it is essential to invest in the right genetics to ensure a successful future. Chief Agronomist Wilson Johnson has been leading the charge at Blue Sky and believes that investing in hemp plant genetics could bring the same success to the crop as canola.
Canada is no stranger to innovation when it comes to agriculture. It was only 30 years ago when canola was a relatively new crop and, since then, breeding technology has skyrocketed its value. It’s now worth an estimated 26.7 billion dollars. It is also one of Canada's most profitable crops.
What if there were a crop with even greater potential than canola? That crop is hemp, and farmers should be preparing themselves now for the future of hemp farming by utilizing Blue Sky Hemp Ventures' expertise in hemp genetics to maximize profits. Let’s take a look at why hemp may be set to become the new canola.
The Benefits of Hemp Farming
Hemp offers many benefits. Like canola, hemp requires little water, fewer pesticides, and less fertilizer than other crops. Additionally, its natural weed resistance makes it an ideal choice for farmers who want to reduce their reliance on chemical herbicides. As a result, many Canadian farmers are already realizing the economic benefits of growing this versatile crop.
However, the real potential of hemp lies in its applications outside of just a food crop. It has been used for centuries in various industries including healthcare products, clothing manufacturing, packaging materials, construction materials, energy production, and more. As demand for these applications continues to increase so too will demand for hemp as a viable raw material, making it an incredibly lucrative option for Canadian farmers looking to diversify their business portfolios beyond just food production.
According to the Government of Saskatchewan, almost all of the industrial hemp produced in Canada is for the seed market. With over 400 licenses to grow hemp issued in Saskatchewan, it is positioned to be one of the largest market areas in Canada. However, experts note that,
“Cost of production and expected returns under Saskatchewan conditions have not been calculated in detail. Typical cost of production in Saskatchewan ranges from $370 - $490 per hectare ($150 - 200 per acre). At current prices, the break-even yields for conventional and organic hemp production are 10 bushels per acre and 5 bushels per acre, respectively.”
Comparatively, the neighboring province Alberta has less than 300 licenses to grow hemp. The Alberta Hemp Alliance (AHA) projects the creation of a $1 billion hemp industry within five years based on increased producer and processor revenues, job creation, and value-added exports. Provincial targets include 500,000 planted acres of hemp, the creation of 8,000 jobs and the attraction of $1 billion in investment in the sector. This projected increase in acres also offers a unique prospect for the development of a viable carbon offset program to support Alberta’s existing energy industry. Similar projections can be made for the market in Saskatchewan.
Growing hemp offers sustainable financial benefits for farmers as well. Hemp will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create crop diversification with an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional crops requiring heavier pesticide and herbicide applications. Hemp is much more sustainable than other common agricultural crops as it requires less water, fewer inputs, and no synthetic fertilizers; all of which can put severe stress on the environment.
As a result, growing hemp provides sustainable solutions while still offering ample returns for farmers, who can have peace of mind knowing they have invested in a sustainable crop cycle. It will also provide the feedstock for numerous value-added industries covering a wide variety of applications based on food, building, and textile fiber and high-tech products.
Cannabinoids present in the hemp plant are capable of producing many nutraceutical and (potentially) pharmaceutical products. Blue Sky expects Health Canada will deregulate the distribution of CBD products in Canada in the near future. Should this unfold as anticipated, the deregulation of CBD product distribution would significantly increase the demand of CBD.
Recently, Western Canada monoecious plants (plants that have separate male and female unisexual flowers) are showing increased seed yields. Wilson Johnson, Chief Agronomist at Blue Sky Hemp Ventures states,
“Western Canadian monoecious hybrid test varieties are showing a 2.5 to threefold increase in seed yield over existing open pollinated varieties. Commercial volumes of seed are expected to be available in limited quantities in 2025.”
The Challenges of Hemp Farming
Today in Canada there are a limited number of approved seed varieties for the production of hemp. These are usually female plants which then have to be pollinated with male plants solely for the purpose of producing seed. This can be a costly process as half of the plant does not produce any usable product. Blue Sky believes it has found a solution by specializing in hemp genetics.
Hemp production is currently a somewhat expensive process with limited market demand due to a lack of education and new product development. Blue Sky is changing this by utilizing its expertise in hemp genetics to create refined hemp seed oil as well as other products, making hemp seed oil easier to use and providing additional health benefits, longer shelf life, versatility, and sustainability.
The Benefits of Investing in Hemp Genetics
Blue Sky is investing in high-quality hemp plant genetics because they will benefit both farmers and processors alike. For farmers, this means access to more reliable yields with better margins. For processors, it means less waste due to fewer defects or inconsistencies between batches. Additionally, our investments in hemp plant genetics will be able to benefit from improvements made over time as new technologies are developed and new research is conducted, such as identifying which strains require less water or produce higher yields. All of which can lead to increased profitability for everyone who chooses to work with Blue Sky.
Beyond simply improving yield rates, our investments in high-quality hemp plant genetics also provides cultivators with access to higher-grade crops that can be used for specialty products like CBD oil or textiles. These products often have higher profit margins than standard crops, making them a promising area of investment for those looking to maximize their returns on their investments in quality genetic material.
In addition, our investments in quality genetics allows us to have more control over the anticipated production of crops. Consistency like this then extends to hemp products and processes by giving more consistent results across different varieties of hemp plants. This ensures that each product meets the same high standards regardless of which crop it comes from, thus ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty over time.
A recent survey of the hemp industry by the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA) identified “poor genetics” and “product inconsistency” as two major hurdles to the advancement of the hemp sector in Canada. One-third of the respondents rated these points as their #1 or #2 concerns and they were shared equally by both producers and processors.
As a pioneer in whole-plant utilization, Blue Sky understands how important genetics will be when it comes to making hemp a true triple-use crop. Suggestions by the United Nations, in their special issue on industrial hemp, reinforce the notion that being able to produce seed, fiber, and cannabinoids increases hemp’s potential value tremendously. The future success of the international adoption of hemp heavily relies on companies like Blue Sky to create consistent genetics that can be replicated universally.
Impacts of Plant Genetics Enhancement
From a breeding perspective, to make hemp as attractive to a grower as canola, the following variables need to be attained.
- Tolerance to drought stress
- Tolerance to excess moisture stress
- Frost tolerance
- Elimination of green, immature seed
- Improved nutrient use efficiency
- Earlier maturing for shorter seasons
- Herbicide tolerance
- Disease resistance- sclerotinia, mold, etc.
- Insect resistance- root maggot, cutworm, etc.
- Improved germination and emergence
- Higher yielding varieties
- Seed shatter and seed drop tolerance
- Harvestability and straw management improvements
Blue Sky Hemp Ventures Expertise
Blue Sky Hemp Ventures is an industry leader in developing advanced breeding technologies that optimize plant genetics specifically for hemp-based products such as food oils or fibers used in textiles and packaging materials. By leveraging expertise in plant genetics and breeding technology Blue Sky is able to produce high-quality varieties of hemp plants with specific characteristics that can improve yields while ensuring consistency across all crops grown using its seed stock. Furthermore, the Blue Sky team works closely with growers from start to finish providing technical support before, during, and after harvest helping them maximize their return on investment (ROI).
Blue Sky's focus on genetics and innovative new product development from refined hemp seed oil could be exactly what is needed to make the Canadian hemp industry more cost-effective while also increasing customer awareness leading to higher demand for these types of products. As this technology continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how the industry adapts and what other opportunities arise due to these advancements. For now, though, one thing is certain; Blue Sky's commitment to changing how we view and use hemp is revolutionizing the way we think about this crop forever.
Investing in high-quality genetic material is essential if you want your business to succeed in the long term when it comes to cultivating or processing hemp products. The benefits are clear with higher yields, fewer defects, and inconsistencies between batches, specialized products with higher profit margins, and greater control over processes. All of which will result from investing in quality genetics.
The future potential value of hemp is comparable to the success story that is canola. It could shape up to become one of Canada’s most profitable crops yet. Blue Sky sees tremendous potential for hemp through investment into its genetic makeup. Investing today will prepare you to reap the rewards that are coming.
In order to capitalize on this potential, however, farmers need access to high-quality seed stock developed using advanced breeding techniques like those offered by Blue Sky Hemp Ventures. Blue Sky provides consistent yield results across all crops grown using its seed stock while also reducing input costs associated with traditional farming methods like fertilizer or pesticides, making Blue Sky the perfect partner for any grower looking to capitalize on this burgeoning industry. “With our help you too can join in this exciting new revolution, so contact us today!”