Tasmania’s Poppy Farms

Tasmania’s alkaloid poppy farms are an important industry for the state. There are around 450 poppy farmers in Tasmania and each acre of alkaloid poppies brings in several thousand dollars making it a highly valued crop and a highly regulated industry.

Roadside poppy farm in north west Tasmania

Growing these poppies is ideal in Tasmania because of the rich soil, reliable rain and long hours of sunlight. And from a security point of view, Tasmania being an island state plays a vital part in safety regulation.

Tasmanian poppies are extremely toxic, they have been genetically engineered to produce chemicals for industrial processing. This is why the poppy farms are well fenced, signed with warnings, and regularly monitored.

All poppy farms are fenced, signed and highly monitored.

Using any part of the poppy in any way is harmful to humans and can cause death. Several people have died from ingesting these poppies, usually from drinking a tea brewed with dried poppies that were stolen from a farm. 

These alkaloid poppy flowers are grown to extract an alkaloid for pharmaceutical use, and include morphine and codeine as well as oripavine which is used to treat heroin overdoses. Tasmania is the world’s largest producer of licit alkaloid material, supplying half of the world’s demand.

Poppy seeds are sown between July and October with the plants growing between July and February. It is during the months of summer (December to February) you are able to see huge fields of these white flowers around the state. Then from January to early March harvesting takes place once the flowers have died off and the poppy heads have dried. The dried plants are then processed into a crude extract which is then transported to manufacturing facilities where the opioid alkaloids are turned into active pharmaceutical ingredients which are then formulated into painkiller medication.

Tasmania’s poppy – a pretty flower with an important purpose!

3 thoughts on “Tasmania’s Poppy Farms

    1. Thanks Ashley. From afar they just look like plain white poppies, so it was a surprise to see the splash of pretty purple colour on closer inspection.

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