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People have been growing cannabis for centuries.
From ancient India and China to modern Netherlands and America, countless generations have grown cannabis. Farming practices have evolved substantially in those centuries as has the plant itself. We can still find remnants of uncultivated varieties today in the genetic profile of Cannabis Ruderalis.
Cultivated cannabis was selectively bred for centuries to produce distinctly different plants. Instead of the thin and relatively short fibers produced by ruderalis, we created the tall sativa variety. Where the ruderalis produces small flowers with few seeds, humans bred the indica to produce massive flowers with a multitude of seeds.
Today, people continue to grow cannabis but thanks to the internet, it is being done in entirely new ways. Gone are the days when you needed a large plot of soil to till. Instead, all a person needs is a closet or spare room to grow some of the best cannabis around.
Here in America, growing cannabis is experiencing a renaissance of sorts.
New technologies are combining with decriminalization to provide an open playing field for people looking to grow cannabis. People from all walks of life are getting into the cannabis industry and helping their communities in the process. The cannabis industry provided over $996 million to Colorado in taxes during 2015 alone.
Locally owned and operated companies like Central Organics Dispensary and Oregon Imperial Farms are also putting people to work. in Colorado alone, there have been over 18,000 jobs created. Instead of spending years in prison, the work of a new generation of entrepreneurs is benefitting the community. These young and enthusiastic business owners are putting back into the system instead of draining it.
Not only is this new generation of growers and business owners building up their communities, it’s developing new ways to grow plants in general. Super efficient systems like aquaponics and aeroponics have seen amazing growth in the market due to how well they work with cannabis. LED lighting technologies have also advanced due in part to cannabis cultivation albeit on an industrial level.
Even small companies are implementing high-tech equipment into their operations.
Oregon Imperial Farms is one of the companies looking to establish themselves as a regional cannabis brand. To accomplish their goal they use a high tech system to monitor the light and nutrient levels of their plants to ensure optimal growth.
Oregon Imperial Farms has enlisted experienced growers like Michael Boynton to manage the farm in addition to high tech systems. The measured hand of an experienced grower can be the difference between breaking even or making substantial profit.
An inexperienced grower may miss the warning signs of infestation or nutrient deficiency. An unidentified nutrient problem can hinder trichome production, limit nutrient absorption, and even kill the plant. Even if the nutrients are right, pests and diseases can still ruin a crop so experience is the best technology known so far.
Some of the biggest technological choices a grower has to make is the specific strains to cultivate.
A grower needs to tailor their strain choice to their growing area. Indoor cultivators must ensure that the strains they pick don’t outgrow their areas, do well in artificial light among other things. In places where outdoor cultivation is possible (like California or Spain) growers have a bit more freedom to pick strains that grow large or need stronger light.
New seed brokers are popping up left and right with specially designed plants for every setting. While some people are undoubtedly renaming old strains and capitalizing off of the work of others, many talented breeders are working to create specialized plants. These breeders are taking the known genetics of popular or common strains and breeding them to fill a niche.
Strains like Northern Lights and Green Crack were developed with indoor growing in mind and excel in that environment. Similarly, strains like Durban Poison and Colorado Bubba do the best when grown outside. Knowing which strain is right for the specific grow is a judgment call that gets easier over time for people who pay attention to those details.
It takes more than good genetics and knowledge of plants to grow a bountiful harvest.
While knowledge is important, even the most experienced grower will have issues. Different strains are more or less susceptible to specific stresses. Some plants may not be recoverable after a particularly bad infestation or disease. Pests like spider mites, russet mites and molds will find any weaknesses and exploit them. The result of a ruined crop (or even a single plant for that matter) can be devastating to companies.
Strong pesticides do a great job of killing organic life like mold, fungus, pests and vermin. The only problem is that we are organic life so also suffer from pesticides. Early chemicals used to protect crops included compounds like Agent Orange and DDT which we now know to cause serious health concerns.
Oregon Imperial Farms uses natural pest control like Ladybugs and Praying Mantis as alternatives to chemical pesticides. They do not leave harmful residues, are easy to remove from the garden and work tirelessly to get spots the grower might have missed. These tiny warriors are great but they take effort to maintain populations and can demand more time or energy to monitor than chemical options.
Natural methods tend to be less effective or take longer than chemical pest controls so many industrial producers prefer to use chemicals. Public opinion on chemical pesticides has grown negative in the last few decades centering on the Anti-GMO movement. They managed to shift public perception of chemical pesticides from modern marvel to technological terror even with the benefits that chemicals provide.
Modern cannabis cultivation has come a long way and has a bright future.
With or without chemical pesticides, there is massive innovation in the industry. Producers like Oregon Imperial Farms and distributors like Central Organics Dispensary are on the front lines of the cannabis legalization movement. They are members of the cannabis renaissance in America where new technologies are changing the way people grow cannabis.
By investing in high-end equipment and developing an experienced team, cannabis businesses are investing in the future. That investment gets to go back into the community through jobs and tax revenues instead of jails and wasted resources. By being allowed to operate in public, cannabis producers are able to devote resources to specializing genetic expressions in cannabis.
Having specialized strains adds to the need of an experienced overseer but it also opens up new possibilities. Producers can craft a plant that works better indoors or out. This diversity in genetic expression gives distributors even more options for picky customers.