Cropping farmer Blair "Blocka" Drysdale has been battling the elements on his Balfour farm in Southland, but not even an electrical storm will stop his latest project.

Drysdale spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay from his water-logged property about the challenges of being a first-time hemp grower.

"It's a bit of a battle, but we'll get there," says Drysdale, whose biggest problem so far has been gaining access to his paddock to get the plants into the ground.

"We had whole-crop oats in [the paddock], so it has all been baled up in baleage, but we can't even get it off the paddock without getting stuck."


The unusually wet weather hasn't dampened Drysdale's enthusiasm for growing hemp.

"It's exciting, I'm prepared for a complete and utter disaster, but anything short of that and I'll be a happy man."

The weather is not the only challenge for hemp growers, and some have accused the Government of drug paranoia after being told it's illegal to feed by-product of the plant to livestock.

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While the industry is in its infancy and with the changing law around hemp production, Drysdale is taking a simple approach with his fledgling business.

"Our plan is to harvest the crop and process our own oils from the seed and the rest of the plant will just be mowed or mulched into the ground."

Hemp fibre has many uses but Drysdale says the problem in New Zealand is there is no infrastructure or facilities to process it.

Before he signs off to do battle with the elements on his farm, Drysdale has one more important piece of information to impart.

"We should no confuse hemp with marijuana."