Growing cannabis can be rewarding as it is, but growing high-quality ones give you more value. Take it from connoisseurs who took growing quality cannabis to a higher level. In a panel episode at the Growers Source Expo, audiences had a deeper look at what it takes to grow high-quality cannabis from start to finish. With years of experience in growing cannabis, Alexandre Gauthier, Master Grower @ Origine Nature, Patrick Page, Master Grower @ MTL Cannabis, and Tanner Stewart, CEO @ Stewart Farms, share their experiences about growing high-quality cannabis.
From their perspectives as master growers and as a CEO, these experts gave a complete overview of how they ensure high quality growing from starting out and building their teams, developing and cultivating their plants, being good leaders and managers, post-processing, up to the end when they release their products to the market.
We have acquired a lot of insights from their discussion, and we’re writing them here in hopes that you too get to share their passion for growing quality cannabis.
1. Your team is your biggest asset as a quality grower.
Much like a ship that will be lost at sea without its crew, you need passionate, detail-oriented teams in your company who are knowledgeable but also with a positive attitude for learning new things. Remember that your team is going to be responsible for your company’s image to your customers, how your company operates, and most importantly, the overall outlook of your products. Creating a company mission striving for quality and a positive working environment goes a long way because people work most effectively when they are inspired. If their passions and ethics align with how the company operates, they would most probably be happy working for your company.
Even with the best facilities and equipment, there is no substitute for the nurture and care given by a focused, attentive staff that ensures your plants are growing well. For these reasons, a well-cultivated team is certainly an important foundation towards being a quality grower.
2. Choose quality.
Your product’s quality reflects everything about your company. Thus, you have to actively choose quality when it comes to your work attitude and ethics. Creating a quality product gives a sense of pride in one’s work, whether their role is a manager, salesman, grower, trimmer, or harvester. An excellent product gives value to the team’s hard work because, at the end of the day, quality translates to higher sales, good reviews, and the overall trustworthiness of your company.
A master grower cannot get a quality product by rushing his team or relying solely on machines for the sake of increased production. From Alexandre’s experience at Origine Nature, growing quality cannabis needs frequent attention and a lot of love and time – something that is extremely difficult with mass cultivation. He stresses that companies need to have a mentality that no matter the size of their operation, everybody on the team should give attention to their product like a craft grower does. They cannot expect to come out with the best product if they work below the minimum requirements of growing a good product. A company growing for quality needs dedicated teams who are invested in what they are doing to see that all steps of the operation are going well.
3. You need good management.
Growing cannabis is a relatively new industry. Many facilities were designed from other industries by consultants; this means that a grower must constantly monitor their plants and develop ways to achieve optimum growing conditions. There are always new ways to improve growth in terms of research and development and upgrading facilities and equipment.
Keeping a steady operation and improving your products is a challenge, but it would not be possible without managers who are passionate about what they do. A company needs managers who are invested in growing, knowledgeable about the growing steps, and an active listener to their workers. They need to get a good grasp of what the company needs. Good management benefits everyone in the company because it enables making the right investments and improves the performance of the company overall.
4. Parameters matter.
Every detail counts in growing quality cannabis. Your plants may not perform to 100% of their true potential and may lose their quality if you fail to care for them properly. Look at it this way: In order to bake a great-tasting cake, you need the right ingredients in the exact amounts and the oven in the correct temperature and correct cooking time. In the same way, there are many things to consider to keep your plants growing optimally. Patrick gives an excellent rundown of the essentials of quality growing on the cultivation side which we summarized below.
a. For a great start, you need plants with good phenotypes and good genes. Put simply, this means that the cannabis variety or strain you are planting should be known to have good characteristics based on the performance of their parents or previous generations. One thing to note is that plants react differently. Choosing a phenotype (the characteristics of your plant) is not simply choosing which strain is popular in the United States or in other areas. It is important to see how a strain is performing in your area to see which works best.
b. Ensure a good quality environment for your plants. This basically includes planting on a properly cultivated and fertilized growing medium, adequate watering, and controlled access to light. Parameters like the temperature and humidity should be monitored constantly and ensured to correlate well with the stage of the plant’s life. You need to take care of the whole plant, not just the foliage, so monitoring the root zone to check for runoff and signs of disease is important.
c. Diseases and insect pests are always a serious threat to your plants. Strict insect pest management includes keeping your area clean and making sure that you monitor your plants and adhere to the insecticide application schedule.
d. Pay attention to the overall growth of your plants. Pruning, training the plants, and making sure that every canopy gets optimal light and airflow equally aid in producing high-quality flowers.
Patrick’s key message here is to always monitor your plants so you can optimize the growing conditions and respond to problems quickly. If you want to know more about the parameters that influence the photosynthetic potentials of cannabis, you can read it in our article 7 Photosynthesis Factors You Can Influence To Maximize Your Cannabis Plants.
5. Understand your consumers.
As a CEO, Tanner explains that we should look at quality from a consumer’s perspective. The industry can make a mistake in thinking that what the consumer perceives as quality is what is perceived overall. Some factors may or may not be as important as another depending on the type of product you are selling. For example, a visual appeal may not be that important when the product is destined to go into pre-roll, so you go after higher trichome production. On the other hand, you may like to focus more on visual appeal when the product is supposed to go into a bag. Importantly, a keen business owner/grower needs to know the current market saturation, prices, and price point formats.
6. Know the market.
Success is difficult when you do not know your target market. You can start achieving success by knowing your goals like satisfying your customers and growing your business, and then, you can work backwards to figure out what you need to do next.
For a CEO like Tanner, it starts with asking the question “Can I sell this or not?” Find gaps in the current market that you can fill in. When you look for a good cultivar/strain, ask “Is there too much of this strain in the market?” If your answer is yes, ask “Can we improve it in terms of taste, bag appeal, or overall quality?”
High-quality hash means different things to different people; therefore, sales will be different across demographics. Fortunately, there are objective standards that we can use to measure cannabis quality. Based on the current market perception, good quality strains should have at least 20% THC content. Terpene content of 15% or lower is acceptable. These factors may also influence how you can market your product. For example, a strain with a good terpene profile should probably be best sold in a pre-roll because of the excellent flavor.
7. Find a trusted supplier.
Knowing which supplier companies are reliable and appropriate for your business is a subjective task. Alexandre helps us by citing good suppliers based on his experience. One is CANNA, which has such excellent documentation of their quality assurance process that you can trace every batch of their products. You need a supplier that you can trust, who goes above and beyond to support your business and keeps you up-to-date with the latest technology in the field. Alexandre also cites Biofloral.
8. When growing quality cannabis, maintain the quality from start to finish.
Consistency is key. Mistakes can be made all throughout the process, and paying attention saves you from failure. You can grow cannabis impressively at day one but not be able to sell it because of improper sealing or poor packaging.
Alexandre emphasizes a systematic approach to preserve product quality by maintaining its relative humidity. You need to consider the drying process like using the whole hang drying and cold process. Watch the temperature because the terpene degrades if it gets too cold or too hot. Meanwhile, excessive manipulation can degrade and lower the cannabinoid content of your plant, especially if done by a machine. In this instance, processing by hand may be superior because the product is handled more gently. An added benefit is that you can do one last QA check while weighing and packaging the product.
You need to treat growing cannabis as a work of love. Alexandre, Patrick, and Tanner all love what they do. They are passionate about cannabis, their products, and their teams, who they treat as their family. If your goal is growing quality cannabis, you really have to be there with the plant. Pay attention to what it needs, and be consistent with that goal-oriented attitude until the end. Everything is important, and there is nothing you can overlook. Have a great start, and sustain the energy up to the very end. That will make the experience exceedingly rewarding.
Watch the Growers Source Expo session, Growing For Quality, below.
Featured Image Credits: Origine Nature
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