This guest column is from Colin Decker, a weed industry veteran who owns and operates Hudson Valley Sensei Growth Consulting. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of NY Cannabis Insider.
There are currently 290 adult-use conditional cultivation licenses circulating within New York State.
Over the past year, I’ve visited countless farms, worked with farmers in need of expert planting advice (one of the services my agency provides), and done an inventory of the country, in terms of produce. Farmers from all over the country contact me daily to discuss the current state of the market, how well the farmers are doing, and whether they are taking advantage of this opportunity and not wasting their opportunity to make a name for themselves within the state’s legal adult-use program.
I would say that the farming program has been a success – that the farmers produce quality products and that all the hard times that occurred because of the CBD program selling a bag of fake goods to the farmers are finally behind us. However, the truth is that we still have a lot of work to do.
Sure enough, some growers came right to the starting line and hit the ground running. I’ve heard the feeling that “there aren’t many growers who are able to operate on a commercial scale here in New York because we only recently became legal.” If that’s the case, how the hell have we survived as the largest cannabis market for over 20 years with some – if not THE – best flowers around the world (legal or not)?
Transplants from all over the country make their way here, emerging from moribund or already dead markets to continue working with the plant and showcasing their expertise working in other legal states. I haven’t seen so many people from California and Colorado in a long time. It’s easy to spot. And judging by the phone calls I’ve received over the past two weeks, the cannabis jobs that New Yorkers should be able to commute to—essentially increasing—don’t go to local or government talent.
That’s not to say these out-of-state operators can’t hang out in a sea of green, but how would they have reconciled to seeing New Yorkers sweeping through the northern hills of Humboldt, Mindo, and Trinity counties? Or if New Yorkers crowded into Boulder or Colorado Springs and took jobs far from the local communities?
Based on my recent research, there are a limited number of farmers in the state who are currently growing, or able to facilitate year-round cultivation and growing at this time, compared to 290 licenses as we go into mid-January. Some farms have been able to facilitate year-round growth with mixed lighting and greenhouse setups, which I believe will be the future of the state’s agricultural supply chain, leaving the outdoors to be a mostly biomass crop. But after inventorying the vast majority of the state’s current product lineup yet to hit shelves, the only way to put it is this market is sticking by a thread.
I think almost dropping the state $750 million in product Floating is not accurate at all. I’d like to see how that number was generated and the data that supports it, other than the extensive surveys given by growers that don’t take into account a host of current variables, since more than 50% of the produce grown last season statewide will probably be processed as bulk Vital due to the list of laundry conditions.
However, some outdoor growers have done things by the book, used proven genetics for their local climate and developed a quality product they can be proud of. As I always say: Growing is one thing, growing something good is quite another. With that said, I commend those who have done a good job and hope to see more growers and growers follow those steps.
Unfortunately, some operators have incorporated many of the practices that occurred during the CBD era into the legal cannabis growing sector. It’s not farfetched to believe that some farms will still be cutting produce by the time others germinate their seed stock outdoors for the year. I didn’t really see any sense of urgency present in the cultivation scene in terms of preparation, which was baffling to me.
Is school out because of summer syndrome?
Building a greenhouse is a beast in itself. Many different factors go into the design process and I highly suggest working with someone who has more experience with New York greenhouse design and actual implementation than with a company that operates across the country. I’ve had countless requests from those who chose to pursue the latter with unfortunate results reported.
A greenhouse designed for the dry climate of Colorado, for example, will not provide you with the same exact climate benefits as when you try to use this structure in upstate New York. These benefits become detrimental to the operation and yield. Most seem to forget that the Dutch invented greenhouses to grow crops during the winter to prevent starvation. These structures are not designed to be used for growing during the warmer summer months when outdoor temperatures can reach 98°C and indoor greenhouse temperatures can climb to 120+. No matter what equipment is used, add 80+% humidity and you’ll have a fun party.
If your outdoor crop was moldy due to high humidity and you didn’t use a greenhouse during the growing season here in New York – and you had to sell your crop as biomass – would you use the same genes again next season? The answer seems simple, but unfortunately, many believe that they are above the power of Mother Nature and arrogance dominates all.
If you’re a farmer and haven’t started preparing for the next season by this time to write down your past crop mistakes – be it building structures, planning ahead for material purchases, testing soil/water formulations, starting seeds, or having a real place to dry and temperature control your healthy produce – I suggest you to do that.
After all, preparation is the key to success.