Pubdate: Tue, 17 Aug 1999
Source: London Free Press (Canada)
Copyright: 1999 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Author: John Miner


Just weeks away from the start of harvest, this year's hemp crop is
looking excellent, according to a Chatham area processor.

"It seems to like the drought because it is coming along very well
compared with other crops," said Bob L'Ecuyer, general manager at Kenex Ltd.

L'Ecuyer said the harvest should start in early September.

This is the second year hemp has been legally grown as a commercial
crop in Canada. It is still banned in the United States.

Kenex Ltd. is one of two companies that has set up processing
facilities. The other, Hempline Inc., is based in Delaware.

Kenex has about 800 hectares growing this summer, mostly in Kent
County, while Delaware's Hempline has contracted for about 400
hectares from farmers in Elgin, Middlesex, Perth, Oxford and Lambton

Because of its close association with marijuana, the crop is strictly
controlled by the federal government with farmers required to obtain
licences. Last year there were complaints the government was too slow
in approving licences.

L'Ecuyer said there was a similar problem this spring with delays in

Hemp can be used in dozens of products, from textiles to automotive

With commercial production established, the markets are now starting
to open up, L'Ecuyer said.

"The fibre market is developing well. We have just landed some fairly
major sales in the auto industry in the last month," he said.

Interest among farmers in growing the crop is keen, he said. "There is
definitely more requests than we have acreage for," he said.
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