Although growing cannabis can be quite a rewarding experience, it is fraught with numerous complications. The plant requires a specific set of conditions to thrive, and farmers could find themselves facing losses due to any number of reasons. This time, it was the cold. Colorado has seen uncharacteristically frigid temperatures this month. The second week of September saw especially cold temperatures that dropped below freezing and dumped inches of snow on the ground, potentially destroying millions of dollars’ worth of outdoor cannabis and hemp plants.
For most outdoor cannabis and hemp farmers in Colorado, the roughly 70-degree temperature swing came way too early in the season, and very few, if any, were able to preemptively harvest their crop. Farmers who didn’t have adequate weather protection had to stand and watch as their crops froze and stems and branches broke under the weight of the snow. According to Dr. Jon Vaught, CEO, and co-founder of Front Range Biosciences, a Colorado-based cannabis biotech firm with hemp growing operations, the storm was catastrophic for growers.
James Lowe, co-owner at the PotCo outdoor marijuana farm outside Pueblo was confident that he was ready for the coming low temperatures. However, the forecast didn’t prepare him for up to 9 inches of wet snow. The PotCo farm has grown roughly 7,000 plants, many 7-8 feet tall, in partnership with neighbor Next 1 Labs, and the low temperatures could cost them millions. “We were on pace for the largest harvest we’ve ever had. The weight of it was what ended up being the problem.”
He says that they may suffer losses of up to $4 million to $5 million, with the severity of the loss depending on several factors. If plants hang on long enough for the temperatures to increase, they will be able to harvest the flower as planned but if not, the entire crop would go toward extraction for a significantly lower price. “The THC is still out in the field, and it’s not going anywhere,” Lowe says, stressing that they won’t suffer a total loss.
Harvey Craig, a hemp grower in the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado says that anything that was left outside “froze pretty solid.” 70% of his crop is in greenhouses, and although he used shade cloth, canvas, and plastic to protect the rest of the outdoor plants, the wet and heavy snow snapped uncovered plants at the stalk and broke branches. “This is devastating to a lot of farmers. I hope this doesn’t put people over the edge. The hemp industry is a tough struggle.”
The news coming out of Colorado regarding the early cold weather is likely bad news for the entire cannabis industry, including Sugarmade, Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD).
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