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Products grown, manufactured and distributed with organic methods and practices are in high demand. The term “organic” provides consumer confidence in the safety and morality of the products they are purchasing. In turn, operations that comply with all state-mandated guidelines, while working to provide a product that is produced via standardized ecological principles, appeal to that consumer confidence, in addition to having resilient production that can absorb biological shocks and disturbances.
The National Organic Standards Board has defined the “organic agriculture” as: “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.”
With the above definition, it is important to ask if cannabis can even be grown in an organic manner. Unfortunately, the term organic is often used as a greenwash to attract consumers. While many cannabis patients and consumers are under the impression that the organic label in the cannabis industry is governed by a set of rules and regulations, no guidelines or stipulations exist for cannabis to be produced organically. (There is no federally recognized organic certification for cannabis.) Many steps, however, can be taken to ensure you are using organic practices and methodologies to provide a safe product for consumers.
Cannabis cultivation involves many levels of decision-making and fundamental production choices that ultimately determine the quality and efficiency of product output. While there are myriad factors to be considered around cultivation style and methods, choosing the specific medium that cannabis will be grown in is a broad, but important topic of debate within the cannabis industry. Ultimately, the decision boils down to choosing between hydroponic or soil cultivation methods.
Many arguments can be made in favor of, or against, both methods, and it is up to informed producers to determine the best growing choice for them. Soil mixes specific to the needs and demands of cannabis are based in generations of agricultural know-how to best mimic naturally occurring ecosystems utilizing natural resources. Hydroponic growing has unique advantages and disadvantages, and can be a valuable growing technique.
The best strategy for cultivators in deciding which growing media to utilize is to consider site-appropriate technology, specific fertilization programs, the yields and consumer base, and, finally, the overall effect on the company’s bottom line with regards to economics and business values. Deciding what type of growing media is best to use and how to make informed decisions about what cultivation methodologies your company will implement can set your company on the path to success.
The harvest — something agriculture has experienced since the beginning of time — is the culmination of all of your work in planning, zoning, buying land, obtaining financing, constructing facilities, training staff, acquiring genetics, cloning, vegetative and flowering growth, and countless other activities.
Reaping the fruits (or flowers) of your labor is not an easy process, but rather one fraught with risk, potentially causing high levels of stress if not thoughtfully designed. Poor harvesting techniques may lower the harvest’s quality, which ultimately impacts your financial bottom line and can create potential brand and even industry damage with distribution of low-quality products.
Building efficiency into the physical and logistical details of harvesting plants, manicuring buds, handling raw plant material and storing the final dried and cured product will help you streamline your operation and reduce costs of goods sold. This is essential, since the very nature of a competitive business environment like cannabis shrinks the margin of error for product quality, price and presentation. As the industry scales into a standardized and commercialized agricultural sector, this becomes even more important.
Below are tips to guide you through a successful harvest. These can be used with any form of production, whether outdoor, full-term seasonal greenhouses, hybridized year-round greenhouses, or indoor models. The goal is to help you develop standardized methods for harvesting that result in quality products and a strong bottom line.
Recently, Cannabis Business Executive ranked 3C number 67 in their list of the top 100 ancillary businesses in the commercial cannabis industry. We’re proud to have earned a place among the most influential businesses in this industry, and we look forward to continued success.
Click the link below to view the entire list.
In this column, we will reframe common industry perceptions of nutrients and fertilization with an introduction to the “soil food web.” We also will explain natural fertilization approaches that are inexpensive, highly productive and provide multifaceted benefits, such as pest and disease resistance. And, we include recommendations for those employing hydroponic systems, in addition to general guidance on monitoring and testing your nutrient solution, media and runoff to ensure that you are doing what is best for your plants — which translates to high-yielding, high-quality harvests.
Welcome to 3C’s first newsletter. Our goal is to provide valuable, hard-hitting news and advice for those in the cannabis and hemp industries. Throughout this journey, we hope to provide best practice tips and techniques along with industry updates that will help your cannabis business thrive. Feel free to browse the information and be sure to send feedback!
In Part I of this two-part series — titled “Successful Expansion of Your Cultivation Operation: A Pre-Construction Guide” — we addressed questions of whether or not you should expand, things to take into account while planning the process and designing your expanded facility, as well as legal and compliance considerations. In this column, we continue exploring how to effectively and successfully scale up, focusing on important issues to take into account in three key areas: Construction, staff preparation and management, and crop propagation.
Applying pesticides off label is a federal offense and successful pest management should not require some of the pesticides used regularly in the industry and cited in recent Colorado recalls.
Those that follow the legal cannabis industry are undoubtedly aware of the struggles of Colorado to regulate pesticide use on cannabis. At the time of this writing, there have been 19 recalls of products contaminated by pesticides in as many weeks. Authorities could not in all cases identify exactly how many units of products may have been tainted, but based on the numbers available, roughly 200,000 individual cannabis products, if not more, have been pulled from dispensary shelves. Along with these recalls have come a large amount of coverage and commentary from various news outlets, industry stakeholders, and even those companies who have had products pulled from shelves.
Nic Easley & Adam Koh
Chief executive officer & chief cultivation officer 3C – Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting || Denver, Colorado
“To maximize yield without compromising quality, indoor cultivators are well-served to install equipment that can exercise precise control over the room’s conditions. Both yield and quality will be lost if it is too humid or dry, too hot or cold, or if the environment has too much or too little carbon dioxide.
“We have seen facilities with mediocre strains, clueless staff and no effective direction from management still pulling very respectable yields simply because the environmental control equipment installed in the facility was top-notch and conditions in garden areas were optimal.”
The legal, regulated cannabis industry is expanding at an explosive rate, creating opportunity for large-scale cultivation businesses. Prior to state-level legalization initiatives, cultivation was performed clandestinely and on a relatively small scale (at least compared to traditional agriculture). Also, many medical growers are faced with the opportunity to expand significantly to serve developing recreational markets. Consequently, one of the most frequent and challenging hurdles faced by cultivators is the prospect of developing and operating a large-scale facility or site devoted to commercial production. This column will explore considerations that need to be taken into account by existing operations looking to scale up and capture a larger portion of the market.
Much of the information also is applicable to those attempting to use cultivation knowledge gained in a small-scale or home-grow setting to enter the regulated industry.