Growers Network and the Canna Cribs crew hopped on over to beautiful Humboldt county to take a closer look at Honeydew Farms and interview Alex Moore.
Honeydew has access to over 900 acres of land, do you plan on using all of it?
Humboldt county put a cap on cultivation size at 8 acres, and currently they don’t plan on allowing a single entity to have more than that. The old “collective” trick won’t work either -- they expect people to try that loophole again, so collectives aren’t allowed here. If we do want to expand further than 8 acres, we’ll need to go out of the county.
However, that said, our current 6.25 acres is a lot to chew on. Cannabis is a rather fragile agricultural product. One day, everything can be fine, but one mistake and you may be screwed for the rest of the season. So 6.25 acres is a pretty big challenge, which we’re working on dialing in. We will eventually expand out to the maximum 8 acres, but for now, we’re doing a lot!
You’re primarily growing outdoors, but what about greenhouses?
We’ve got around one and a half acres of greenhouse canopy currently. We do plan on expanding our greenhouse capacity because it gives us double the output. We use smaller greenhouses with sides that we can open up. The structures are relatively simple to put up and take down.
How many plants are you growing, and what strains?
We’re growing close to 40 different strains, but we plan on gradually reducing the number of strains we grow. We grow at least 50 to 100 pounds of any given strain in a season. It’s got to be a strain that sells well, so we focus on strains that are historically popular and stuff that seems to be trending.
As far as the raw number of plants we’re growing, we’re growing about 3500 per year outdoors, and another 7500 in the greenhouses. The outdoor plants grow to be very large, while the ones in the greenhouse generally get up to waist-high.
How do you feed your plants?
Currently, we water everything by hand. Now I know what you’re thinking… on 6.25 acres, that’s a lot of work. And you’re not wrong. Drip systems and other irrigation systems are great. I like them and have used them in the past.
But the worst mold problems I’ve ever experienced happened when I was using a drip system. The trouble is that automation in an outdoor grow is rather tricky. If you have a drip system going, it’s watering whether or not the plants need it. It also doesn’t tailor how much it’s feeding to individual plants.
What pests do you have to deal with?
The usual pests you might face with sungrown cannabis. This includes things like spider mites, grasshoppers, powdery mildew, and more. Last year we had a pretty bad russet mite encounter which was not good for our wallets.
This year, we’re way more on top of it. You have to be proactive, and you need to have a plan ready before you realize you have something. If you catch it late, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. Prevention goes a long way.
What have been some of your biggest challenges?
Honestly, legalization. Back in ye olden days, all we had to worry about was the cops or the sheriffs deciding to inspect our property. Now that we’ve legalized, we’re basically inviting a whole bunch of regulators in. We have to deal with nearly a dozen different government agencies, all of which can shut you down if they find an infraction.
The other side of legalization is the economics of it. The current permitting process may cause an oversaturation of the market, and that really stings small time business owners. We’re the ones who get paid last. By the end of a season, we’ve hopefully got a good crop that will sell well. But if the market is oversaturated… we may come out in the red.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
I can’t wait to see what the market looks like when it’s not so volatile. It may be a few years before things start to settle, and I wish I could see into the future. I want to know who’s in this game for the long haul.
The other thing I’m hopeful for is seeing cannabis opening up nationally. California faces oversaturation in the market until that happens. If it doesn’t happen soon, the players with deep pockets are probably the only ones who will be able to survive. Mom and pop cultivators won’t be able to operate at a loss to capture the market.