MJBizMag March 2021 - 44

From the Roots Up
Rather than playing in the bulk
market, the better deal-at least until the
market stabilizes-is to contract-grow
small amounts for successful brands,
Propheter said.
" Successful brand owners are at the
top of the value chain, " he said. " They're
getting the most money for the product
that they extract and produce, whereas
the folks that are trying to participate in
the bulk market-they're an ingredient
supplier. The bulk market is just an
absolute race to the bottom, and the
margins are compressing significantly.
So anyone who's participating in the bulk
market has a level of volatility that I would
not be comfortable with as a grower. "
After having signed contracts that
processors, brokers and manufacturers
ultimately reneged on-or have just flat
out refused to pay-Oregon-based Ray
said he doesn't believe in the validity of
contracts anymore. Moreover, he isn't
convinced that securing a contract is
necessary before growing.
Ray said a farmer who overpromises
on a contract only to underdeliver
because of faulty genetics or bad weather
could end up defaulting. That's especially
true for farmers who are new to the
industry and face a steep learning curve.
" Why put yourself in that position? "
Ray said. " So many people are about spot
buys and pricing, and it doesn't really matter-they're
going to go look for a cheaper
price. Buyers are not loyal to the farm. "
Marijuana growers, meanwhile, are
less likely to set up a contract and prefer
to sell their crop when prices are high,
said DeLapp of Humboldt County
Growers Alliance.
" They don't want contracts in place
before they grow their crops, " she
said. " If the product can be cultivated,
harvested and then properly stored and
preserved, they can sell it when the
market rate goes back up. "
Marijuana grows such as those in
Humboldt County tend to be much
smaller, craft-flower operations than
the commodity-based hemp market,
DeLapp said. But the market is still
in flux. She said the current market
conditions in California, where much
of the stored flower is moved into a
" forced distribution model, " are not
ideal. Under this model, flower is moved
through several distributors before it
ends up being sold to a manufacturer
or retailer.
SECURING
GENETICS AND
YOUNG PLANTS
In Humboldt County, many marijuana
growers are creating their own genetics,
and because the area has more than 50
years of cultivation history, growers have
access to a " significant repository of
genetics " that grow well there, DeLapp
said.
The area, which accounts for a
significant amount of the marijuana
grown in California, has a " reasonable
level of infrastructure " in developing new
genetics, she said.
" We also have about a dozen local
nurseries that our cultivation community
can tap into, and within that, our
nurseries are working with local breeders
or heritage breeders to develop cultivars
that are expressing certain phenotypes
for the specific microclimates around
Humboldt County. "
Despite its legal status, the hemp
industry is comparably different, with a
few plant-breeding companies working
to develop novel, seed-propagated
genetics and others selling different
versions of the same varieties, according
to Propheter.
" There aren't really a whole lot of
unique novel varieties because most of
these folks are just buying a variety or
stealing a variety from another propagator
and then rebranding it as something else
entirely themselves, " he said. " Or they're
not conducting genetic development
properly, so now you're ending up with a
tremendous amount of genetic variability
across what you're planting, which, in a
highly regulated environment like this, is
not conducive to having a crop that you
don't have to destroy. "
44 Marijuana Business Magazine | March 2021
Natalynne
DeLapp
Because market prices for biomass
have dropped off significantly, Propheter
said some of the bad actors who were
selling faulty seeds have now " shifted
their scams " to propagation.
" It's important for growers to actually
go and visit the facility where their seed
or clones are being propagated and actually
vet the procedures and genetic lines
that these folks are providing, " he said.
Working with the extension
service available through land-grant
universities, looking at variety trials
data and talking with other local
growers about their experiences
growing different genetics can help
hemp cultivators make a more informed
decision about which varieties will work
best in their climate, Propheter said.
COMBATTING PESTS
AND DISEASES
FROM THE START
Starting out with a new crop, growers
should make sure they are sourcing clean
clones or seedlings.
" Always assume that what you're
bringing into your garden is somewhat
contaminated-any new plants that are
brought in should be quarantined first, "
DeLapp said. " Farmers should have an
integrated pest-management plan for
dealing with pathogens and pests. Test
early, assume that it's contaminated and
then work backward. "

MJBizMag March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MJBizMag March 2021

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