Recent History – 1998
By Alethea Wiesner, Daily News Staff, Oct. 13, 1998
A series of natural disasters plowing through research hemp plots just east of Dawson Creek have taken their toll, but the B.C. Grain Producers have no intention of giving up.
Brent Washington, director with the B.C. Grain Producers Association and chair of the association’s hemp committee, admits there “wasn’t a heck of a lot out there” but there were some seeds, although quality was low. Still, after damage from the late planting, hailstorms, Round-Up chemicals, uneven frost and even Lygus bug infestation, it’s impressive he got anything at all.
Seeds still popped out of blossoms with frost damage, giving Washington further conviction for next year’s trials and the crop’s viability overall. As far as he’s concerned, this year’s bad spell of natural disasters just means next year will be that much better.
“Any crop is subject to so many variable disasters in a year,” he explained, saying the last two years have been two of the worst on record. “So if we’ve had all of our disasters this year the odds are very strong that we’re going to have a better crop next year.”
Washington is currently in the process of applying for another research license for next spring, and is even considering putting hemp in rotation in his own fields. At least 10 acres are required for a commercial license, which he would need to grow hemp in his own fields. Currently, any product resulting from the research product must be burned.
Since the B.C. Grain Producers are more interested in learning which hemp varieties are best suited to growing conditions in the area for seed production, that’s what the research license focuses on.
At the same time, said Washington, hemp fiber is also a valuable commodity that could boost Dawson Creek’s economy. “Initially I’d like to see the prospects for seed production,” he said. “However, I think it’s a dual purpose plant. You can use the fiber and the seed, and I’d like to see them both developed.”
Joking about the recent seizure of hemp at The Body Shop which has since been returned, Washington pointed out how versatile hemp can be. The Body Shop is now carrying a whole line of skin-care products, he said, which leaves your skin smoother…without any short-term memory loss.
“This is what I particularly like — Hemp is for dry skin, not narrow minds'” he laughed. “Isn’t that good?”
Even the harsh winter predicted for northern B.C. this year will offer valuable information about hemp-growing operations for their membership, said Washington.
This article is taken from the Peace River Block Daily News, Dawson Creek, with the permission of the publisher. The Daily News retains all rights relating to this material. The information in this article is intended solely for research or general interest purposes.