By Carole Rooney, 100 Mile House Free Press
100 Mile House Industrial Hemp Producer's Group chair Dave Zirnhelt recently provided a project update.
The Zirnhelt Timber Frames construction company, founded and owned by his sons, recently finished eight, four- by eight-foot industrial hemp panels.
The local project shares information with the University of Manitoba, and professor Kris Dick recently came out to observe the construction and install sensors to monitor the drying process, Zirnhelt explains.
That performance data is now electronically linked to transmit to the university, he adds.
An ongoing challenge that remains and prevents moving forward significantly from here, Zirnhelt says, is tying down somebody in the market who will agree to put up funds for product development.
"Now, it's back to mostly the private sector to make the business opportunities work. I think one of the weaknesses is we thought it was something anybody and everybody could do."
These previously-unknown obstacles include irrigation, likely required for drier years; good soils, or otherwise high input costs; and finding places or equipment that can process the tough hemp fibre. All of these problems are hindered by the market weakness, Zirnhelt explains.