Farming is a fruitful but challenging business in any sector, requiring immense resilience, endurance, and risk management. Cannabis farming is no exception to the rule. However exciting and rewarding it may be, farming marijuana is not a job for the faint-hearted. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced marijuana producer, dodging the curveballs thrown your way every day is part and parcel of the job.
But just as the weed of crime bears bitter fruit, the seed of hard work bears fruitful results! With every issue you may encounter, there is always a solution. So here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you overcome some of the most common cannabis farming issues.
1: Seed Quality
All cannabis entrepreneurs should pay close attention to genetics. Having high-quality genetics is crucial to ensuring customers and dispensaries keep coming back for more. When you purchase seeds, even from highly dependable suppliers, you may end up with unstable genetics. And the worst part is that once you realize your plants are not what you expected, it may be too far into the vegetative stage to do anything about it beyond simply separating the males immediately.
Pro Tip: Go for Clones
Guaranteeing feminized plants will become much more manageable when you purchase clones over seeds. When growing seeds, you need to wait for a couple of weeks for them to germinate and get big enough so you can tell if it’s a male or a female. Clones take out the guesswork since they’re always females. So our first pro tip here is simple: turn to a reliable wholesale marijuana dispensary. And if you’re unsure who to source from, ask around and talk to other local growers to find the best supplier in your region.
Having said this, getting clones is not all risk-free. Once you find a reputable cannabis nursery, inspect the clones thoroughly, looking for any signs of pests, mold, or diseases. Should you be inspecting 50+ clones for quality? Yes, absolutely! Check for root health and pick the clones with visible healthy roots coming out of the wool cube or growing medium. The more roots, the better. Make sure to transplant all clones carefully to avoid shock.
The second pro tip is to organize your own cloning process in a sterile environment on your farm. Keep a close eye on your plants, clone them during the vegetative phase and start your own nursery with your best genetics. This will save you time and money while helping to stabilize the quality of your final product. Steady genetics will hit that sweet spot that will keep customers and dispensaries coming back for more.
The green rush is real. Over the last few years, the demand for all types of marijuana-based products has increased. However, the number of cannabis farmers is also on the rise as legalization laws are being approved in different states. After all, a product that can be sold to the final consumer at an average of $319 per ounce is unquestionably attractive to farmers.
A Brightfield Group’s report found that 285 acres of cannabis was grown in the US in 2019 and predicts 2.3 million acres grown by 2023. BDSA reports that the US cannabis market may reach $34.5 billion in sales by 2025. So it’s no surprise why more and more farmers are turning to cannabis growing. However, the supply-demand balance may take a while to find stability. So even if you’re doing well in the short-term, you must plan for the long-term too.
It doesn’t matter if you run a small farm or a large industrial facility for cannabis growing. The day may arrive when there’s more supply than demand. If you’re not able to sell all of your product immediately after harvesting, your infrastructure for processing and storage can come in handy.
Pro tip: Invest in Processing Infrastructure
Having robust processing and storing infrastructure in place will not only help you plan for a rainy day but will also improve the quality of your final product. Processing cannabis is, in fact, as important as the growing process. Even if your farm has the best strains available, impressive yields, and huge buds — poor processing and storing can harm your final product.
Clean and sterile trimming rooms, humidity control during the drying process, and tightly sealed storage can help keep your buds fresh for a couple of months after harvesting. Cannabinoid levels can slightly decrease, but terpenes will become more evident, strengthening flavors and aromas while providing a smooth smoke. So while the market balances itself, your buds will be safely curing in a dark and clean space.
3: Labor Costs
Finding and retaining qualified labor is unquestionably one of the biggest challenges in many industries, including the cannabis sector. If you do not plan accordingly, you may find it hard to find the right help once the growing and harvesting season begins. Calculating labor and cultivation costs can be tricky and local legislation may require your business to enter labor peace agreements if you employ more than 20 people. Managing licensing and lawyers while dealing with staff growing plans can rapidly become a hefty investment that you may not have expected.
Pro tip: Do not underestimate and plan accordingly
Make sure you don’t underestimate labor costs when you start budgeting for your facility. While there are plenty of automated options out there, you should ensure that equipment costs match your farm’s production volume and processing quality. Sometimes hiring people may seem expensive at first, but with the right eyes watching over your precious plants, you’ll be glad you did things right from the outset.
Hiring labor for the production process can be a challenge. Securing employees’ satisfaction and retention can also be daunting. You must be prepared to offer equal opportunities, fair wages, and useful training to keep your best employees loyal and engaged. Investing in the right people will help you build a friendly workspace so all aspects of your business can thrive.
Despite the many challenges you may face, working in the cannabis industry can be highly rewarding. Most entrepreneurs and cannabis professionals can confidently say that they feel happy and professionally fulfilled. But that doesn’t mean the ride is easy. Make sure you always plan for the rainy days, study local regulations, and build a net of experts who you can turn to for legal and business advice. Putting in the effort at the beginning will set you up for success in the long run!
About the Author
Eryn Hardwick is the CEO and founder of Homegrown Nursery in California. For over 10 years, he has been helping cannabis entrepreneurs grow their businesses by providing first-class cannabis clones with verified genetics. An expert in all things marijuana, he takes pride in sharing his knowledge with other cannabis business enthusiasts.