Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) fibre can be used as a raw material for paper and textile production. A comprehensive research programme in the Netherlands has concluded that fibre hemp is a potentially profitable crop, having the right profile to fit into sustainable farming systems. This paper presents an appraisal of the crop physiological characteristics and the agronomic potential of hemp. Parameter values of basic crop physiological characteristics such as light interception potential, radiation use efficiency and dry matter partitioning coefficients are given. The effect of crop management decisions such as cultivar choice, sowing date, plant density, and harvest date on the value of these parameters is discussed. A simple crop growth model was used to assess the yield potential of hemp for the climate of the Netherlands. Calculations made for a non-stressed late-flowering hemp crop sown on 15 April and harvested on 15 September give a stem dry matter yield of 17.1 t ha-1. The effects of advancing or delaying sowing or harvest date on stem yield were calculated. Crop physiological characteristics of hemp are compared to those of kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.). Radiation use efficiency and dry matter partitioning coefficients of the two crops are similar. Base temperatures for development and growth are lower in hemp than in kenaf. In a temperate climate with cool springs, canopy establishment will be more rapid in hemp than in kenaf. Hemp seems an excellent candidate to fill the niche for an annual fibre crop in a temperate climate.
|Journal||Annals of Applied Biology|
|Publication status||Published - 1996|