Recently on a trip back to the state where I was born, Oregon, USA, I connected with an old friend from my hometown. Steve is a life-long gardener, like me. Along with a love of plants and nature we have a deep-seated admiration for knowledge, science and intelect. Besides these aspects we both share a distain for ignorance, lies and undeserved authority. These charachteristics unite us in friendship, however, these same charachteristics have put us at odds with society much of the time. Those of you who share these black sheep values certainly know what I´m talking about.
What does this personal stuff have to do with cannabis? Well, it´s pretty simple, these are a few of the reasons we grow cannabis. We love cannabis and society has had it wrong for the better part of a century. Cannabis prohibition is plagued with ignorance and lies that give undeserved authority for those who propagate this foolishness and deceit.
That said, decades ago Steve quit his job as an high-tech engineer to practice his passion, gardening and farming. He grows vegetables, flowers and cannabis commercially on his 9 hectare farm in Oregon. I went against the wishes of my family and society to dedicate my professional career cannabis. As we know, most of you from personal experience, that taking this path has filled life with trials and tribulations . . . a difficult row to hoe. For 15 years I wore a disguise in public to hide my identity and changed my name to avoid prision. Like many of you, we were called crazy, loosers, weird, antisocial and even criminals for being gardeners and loving the plant kingdom. This decention has made us stronger. Battles have been won and lost, but the scars are worth the cost every time I look in the mirror and smile with pride.
This year, Steve planted a half hectare of CBD-rich cannabis on his farm located in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Germinating 1.500 regular (male and female) seeds and planting, rouging males, harvesting and processing the crop on 500 m2 is quite a bit different than growing a few prize plants in your backyard or basement.
Jerry Norton, a good friend supplied Steve with enough Cherry Wine cannabis seeds to plant one half hectare. Jerry is co-founder of the Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association. At a recent meeting, Jerry told me that the Association has 1.500 registered (CBD-rich cannabis) growers that planted 22.700 hectacres in 2019. Jerry grew up farming grass seed in the Willamette Valley. He approaches cannabis farming like a farmer that grows and processes hundreds of hectares of cannabis rather than as a hobbyiest. He is agricultural university-educated with a half century of hands-on farming experience. Jerry is one of the instigators of the Global Hemp Innovation Center at Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, in the heart of the Willamette Valley. The Center touts 14 full-time researchers, all well-educated in agricultural sciences.
Steve germinated the Cherry Wine seeds with disappointing results. The germination rate was less than 70 percent and many of the seedlings were weak and culled out. The remaining seedlings were strong and healthy.
Currently researchers at Oregon State Global Hemp Innovation Center are working tirelessly to develop strong CBD-rich cannabis varieties that will overcome the limits now experienced by Cherry Wine seeds. Several other private companies are developing CBD-rich seeds for agriculture. Many of these new varieties will be available in 2020.
Cherry Wine is the most common CBD-rich variety available in the USA. THC is genetically stable and is guaranteed to fall under the legal limit of 0.3 percent. However, CBD content is contingent upon cultural factors – soil, nutrient uptake, water, sunlight, etc. – and harvest time.
The bulk of CBD is in the flower buds. Peak CBD production and content occurs about two weeks before THC production peaks out. CBD-rich plants are generally harvested two weeks before THC-rich plants.
Steve would call me in the middle of night while waiting for harvest. At 3:00 would be pacing around outside wearing gloves, a heavy coat and hat looking at a themometer that hovered around 0 degrees Celsius. Of course, it was noon where I was sitting in sunny Spain. His entire cannabis crop was on the verge of sudden death. Freezing temperatures burst cells inside <soft> plants that are not able to withstand the cold.
Many nights he would <turn on the big gun>. That´s what he calls the single impact sprinkler that delivers a huge stream/spray of water to ice-down his half-hectare of CBD-rich hemp. Icing-down crops is one of the ways farmers save crops from certain death resulting from freeze. A spray of water covers the crop. As the temperature drops to freezing and below, a layer of ice forms on foliage to protect plants from severe damage. The temperature of foliage, which is incased in ice, will not drop below 0 degrees C. So much for all the stories about keeping water off flowerering cannabis plants!
Besides inclemite weather, the State of Oregon makes CBD-rich cannabis farmers jump through many legal hoops. And on October 31, 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) set forth interim rules for the 2018 (Cannabis) Farm Bill.
Testing must occur 15 days prior to completion of harvest
Total THC (i.e. THC + (THCA * .0877)) must be 0.3 percent or less
As little as 6 cm of terminal flower cut from each sampled plant
Goes into effect immediately for non-pilot program states
Pilot states must transition by 31 October 2020
Look forward to more rules and regulations as cannabis becomes legal around the world. Gone are the days of egotistical cannabis <breeders> making wild unfounded claims about their genetics. Gone are the days of hiding in the shaddows of ignorance. Gone are the days of the breeder that talks the loudest and the most winning. Gone are the days of unadulturated bullshit.
Steve said it best, ¨every time I don´t pay attention to reality it kicks me in the nuts¨.
Jorge Cervantes is author of the Cannabis Encyclopedia (596 pages, 2,000+ color images, large A4 format) and Marijuana Horticulture (AKA the Bible). Booth books are available at all amazon retailers worldwide. The Cannabis Encyclopedia has an excellent chapter on water. Contact Jorge at www.marijuanagrowing.com.