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Jenny Bloom

September 24, 2019

In this episode, Nate and his crew check out the Canndescent grow operation. These guys only grow the best cannabis – “ultra-premium,” as Nate calls it, which means nothing below A grade material. It’s located in Desert Hot Springs, California, on a 28,000 square-foot property, with a whopping 19,000 square feet of active canopy, all of which is located indoors.

Rick Fisher, the Chief Operating Officer of Canndescent, sits down with Nate to explain his role and their amazing grow strategy – one of which includes never having pesticides in their site, whatsoever. Quality is everything to Canndescent, which is something that was set from the very beginning.

Now that it’s a few years old, Canndescent was able to branch out to other products besides the flower, such as vape products. Canndescent has its reputation for excellence, so now all their products carry the same assumed level of excellence (and it’s well earned).

Want to learn how to get the biggest yields from cannabis plants? Check out our free Grow Bible for more information!

Genetics and Propagation

Nate meets with Dan McClure, the VP of Agronomy, who has a few years of experience behind him. They stand in a room that has roughly 75 mother plants, which rotate out every 60 days or so. This is quite frequent when compared to many other cultivators.

Dan discusses the passing on of genetics that often takes place in growing, and how the quality of genetics need to be perfected. They take about 300 clones per week, which have a 96% success rate. They only take the best of the best, of course.

6500 Calvin Quantum T5 light fixtures are used in this grow room, kept about 2-3 feet above the canopy, which has led to some very happy mother plants. Dan carefully points out the importance of measuring what you’re doing and what makes your plants happy. If you don’t measure, you won’t keep track of the best practices. It’s this marriage of art and science that Canndescent uses to keep consistent levels of excellence.

Vegetation

Nate next sits down with Jeff Homolya, who is the Cultivation Manager for Canndescent. They discuss nutrients – the plants get 2.7 EC, or Electrical Conductivity (the concentration of nutrients in a solution), and they’re fed 5-8 times per day. They use HGV nutrients to feed these happy young plants. Things are kept under control by using a master controller system, the GrowControl GC-Pro XL by Agrowtek. This keeps the numerous feedings for the plants per day on schedule.

Sunsystem LEC fixtures – 630 watts, to be exact – line the ceiling, with two 315-watt 4200k lamps in each one. This means they can turn just one off when the young, fresh plants are still in their younger days (too much wattage is too much for them). They’re controlled with a Titan controller, which keeps electrical distribution managed and keeps the timing perfect for the photoperiod they want.

Flowering

Nate next sits down with Jeff Homolya, who is the Cultivation Manager for Canndescent. They discuss nutrients – the plants get 2.7 EC, or Electrical Conductivity (the concentration of nutrients in a solution), and they’re fed 5-8 times per day. They use HGV nutrients to feed these happy young plants. Things are kept under control by using a master controller system, the GrowControl GC-Pro XL by Agrowtek. This keeps the numerous feedings for the plants per day on schedule.

Sunsystem LEC fixtures – 630 watts, to be exact – line the ceiling, with two 315-watt 4200k lamps in each one. This means they can turn just one off when the young, fresh plants are still in their younger days (too much wattage is too much for them). They’re controlled with a Titan controller, which keeps electrical distribution managed and keeps the timing perfect for the photoperiod they want.

Curing

Jeff explains their curing technique, which starts with whole plant hang-drying, which keeps capillary processes alive and allows the drying time to be extended (which means a smoother smoke). The curing rooms are 55% relative humidity and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. After hanging, the plant material is moved to plastic bins for 7-10 days, when they are being measured for how much moisture is left. That way, they know precisely when to take them out of the bins to keep a consistently top-quality product.

They even test for moisture and microbes long after jarring the product. Their goal is to keep collecting data and learning from this data.

Trimming

The Canndescent trim room is futuristic and managed by Paige Biggs, the Forecast Analyst. She ensures all products are in stock and makes plans to make everything happen. Excellence and gratitude are the name of the game here. The trimmers are paid for their actual production – it’s incentive-based pay and they all own stocks in the company. Every flower at Canndescent is hand trimmed, as part of their larger goal to top excellence.

TIP: If you’re looking for quality flowers like Canndescent, you can browse seeds at our seed bank

To keep the scissors clean without using alcohol, Paige and her team use Scissor Fix. They also use LED lights with magnifying glasses to get a closer look at the buds while trimming – after all, the trimmers are the final quality check for Canndescent. EZ Trim Bud Sorters gently sort through and collect all of the flowers.

Kayla Adkins is the Production Team Lead and discusses the many jars and pre-rolls. They do about 5500 pre-rolls per day, which they’re able to do by using the Rocketbox by STM Canna. Nate gives the machine a try with Jon Nelson, the Senior Technical Consultant. They pay special attention to density and moisture level to make sure they pack everything evenly and correctly, as well as to make sure the smoke is smooth.

Packaging

Kevin Martin, the VP of Operations at Canndescent, helps Nate orient himself in the processing department. Kevin emphasizes the importance of the packaging – it’s experiential, beautiful, and makes a big impression for the consumer.

CJ Minor, the one Processing Department Supervisor, keeps an eye on jar and pre-roll production. The facility can run through 4 pounds of buds per hour via an algorithm and then puts the perfect amount in the jar automatically. They’re packing about 5000 jars per day already, and this could double in the future as well.

Now we’re back to Jeff, who meets again with Nate to talk about what happens next in the process. Integra Boost Packs are used to prevent mold growth and over drying by keeping the relative humidity level consistently at either 55% or 62%. They also retain the terpenes and keep the smell stable and fresh within the jar. The jars are then labeled and placed in the classic Canndescent orange boxes. The packages are beautiful and recyclable.

Processing

Next comes the extraction facility with Allen Larsen, the Lab Manager for Canndescent. This facility is all about making vape pens, vape juice, and cartridges efficiently while keeping the highest levels of quality and cleanliness. The vapes are nearly completely clear, which shows the top level of quality.

Nate brings up the different methods for extraction. Canndescent uses CO2 extraction because it is versatile and flexible. Green Mill SFE Pro machines are also used to extract three different types of oils. Ultimately, these products and processes speed things up for later. The machines are automated, making things consistent and easy, while still having the option to control different aspects fully.

Next, Nate goes to Lynda Pham, the Lab Technician II, who tells him about the 710 Shark Automated Filling Machine, which quickly fills up the vape cartridges. Victoria Soliz is next, the Packaging Team Lead. She explains that their equipment was explicitly designed for Canndescent.

Dispensary

Finally, Alicia Parana, the Dispensary Manager, greets Nate as he enters.  The Canndescent vape cartridges and other products are the most expensive, but they sold out within just a few days. It shows that they’re simply trusted for their excellent quality. All of the hard work is paid off when Nate finally gets to enjoy his own vape pen and cartridge after two busy days of filming.

Marijuana legislation can be complicated, but Jenny Bloom is always up for the task. Although not a lawyer, her experience as a reporter and PR specialist helps her understand legalese – especially when it relates to growing marijuana. A passionate supporter of legalization and home... [read more]

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