Pubdate: Wed, 04 Nov 2015
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Column: Legalization Nation
Copyright: 2015 East Bay Express
Author: David Downs


Despite the Fourth Year of Drought, Farmers and Industry Sources Say 
2015 Produced a Crop of High-Quality Bud.

The storm on November 2 signaled the official end to the 2015 
cannabis growing season. And judging by industry and farmers' 
reports, California likely harvested a bumper crop of great bud this 
year - despite the fourth year of drought. "It's been stellar," said 
Casey O'Neill with Happy Day Farms in Garberville.

"So far, it's looking pretty kick-ass," said Kevin Jodrey organizer 
of the cannabis competition called The Golden Tarp awards.

Farmers report that this year's long, hot, and sunny summer was 
unblemished by the mold-inducing moisture of 2014. The heat also made 
plants flower and finish as much as thirty days early this year, said 
O'Neil. "That's significantly earlier than we've ever been out of the ground."

Americans consume an estimated 2,500-5,000 metric tons of pot per 
year, surveys show. About two-thirds of America's stash is bulk 
marijuana grown in Mexico. California is the leading domestic 
producer of both outdoor and indoor-grown bud. Farmers plant cannabis 
in the spring and the weeds can grow up to fifteen feet in height 
during the months leading up to fall harvest, when they yield several 
pounds of dried bud. Indoor gardens, of course, run year-round.

Farmers in the nation's cultivation epicenters of Humboldt and 
Mendocino counties reported huge, healthy grows this year, combined 
with increased wholesale demand and prices. Prices for high-quality 
outdoor are at or above last year's - roughly $1,500 to $1,8000 per pound.

For the first time in recent memory, farmers are also reporting 
pre-sales of their crops - meaning, the product was sold before 
drying and trimming were complete. "I haven't seen that in years," 
said one veteran cultivator.

Farmers suspect that wholesalers read the headlines about drought and 
fires this year and were determined to buy up supplies. Fires 
reportedly torched thousands of gardens from Washington state to Lake 
County, California this year. Washington's biggest provider, 
CannaSol, lost an entire outdoor crop of legal weed to fire this 
season. The massive Lake County inferno of 2015 likely claimed the 
state's oldest medical marijuana garden, according to longtime 
cannabis activist Dennis Peron of San Francisco.

Also, demand for marijuana across the United States appears to be 
rising, as cannabis continues to shed its social stigma. Pot is now 
legal in four states, plus the nation's capital, and it's legal 
medically in 23 states. Survey data released on October 22 showed 
that cannabis use among American adults more than doubled in the past 
decade, rising from 4.1 percent in 2002 to 9.5 percent in 2013.

And the big new surge in cannabis extracts, commonly called "hash," 
is also propping up prices. Trimmings once destined for mulch now 
command hundreds of dollars per pound. "[Hash-makers are] saying, 'If 
it's got sugar on it, we want it'," said cultivator Swami Chaitanya 
from Swami Select Farms, referring to the plant's white, psychoactive resin.

The year 2015 was also a banner one for greenwashing the war on 
drugs. Pot farmers were pilloried in the press for water use, even 
though cannabis comprises a negligible fraction of water used by 
California agriculture.

However, cultivators' outsized impacts on remote, stressed watersheds 
is one reason why 2015 will go down as likely the last unregulated 
medical cannabis harvest in the state's history. Many farmers report 
saving every penny in profit this year to bring their old logging 
roads, creek bridges, and water storage tanks and ponds up to code, 
as well as to obtain new state licenses available in the next two years.

The drought, meanwhile, brought more pests and wildlife to farms this 
year, but crops stayed hydrated through a combination of winter rain 
captured in tanks and ponds, drip irrigation, screens, and pruning. 
Like wine, cannabis' drought-year yields can be lower but of 
higher-quality. And the dryness kept away pot's arch nemesis - mold - 
which can claim 30 percent of a harvest. Up near Eureka this October, 
hands at True Humboldt farms were grinning in the sun. Seasonal mist, 
fog, and rain usually results in mold on the prized tops of their pot 
crops, but not in 2015.

Down in the cities, consumers can expect epic deals on fabulous 
sungrown cuts of Gorilla Glue #4, as well as Kushes, Diesels, and a 
hybrid called Ogre - which took the Emerald Cup in 2014.

"You have some really neat twists on the fuel OGs, the Fires, the 
Ghosts - all crossed with people's secret sauces," said Jodrey. 
"Also, the Black Lime strain from Aficionado with that loud lime [aroma]."

Oakland's Harborside Health Center and other East Bay dispensaries 
have begun running 'sungrown' deals, such as $35 eighth-ounces of 
Jack Herer and Sour Diesel.

And The Emerald Cup is gearing up for its return to Santa Rosa on 
December 12 and 13. The nation's oldest, biggest outdoor organic 
medical cannabis competition draws about 10,000 attendees, and has 
added Beats Antique to its entertainment lineup this year. The 
contest - which will include several hundred entries - opened to 
gardeners on November 2.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom