In order to resolve our market dilemmas in the future, it is essential to review the past and analyze our successes and failures. We have won before and we can still win again. Here is some Humboldt history for you to digest.
In the beginning we grew full sun/full term orchard style large plants. Our genetics came from places like Afghanistan and Mexico. The original Humboldt growers went to Afghanistan, to Mazar-I-sheriff. They returned with seeds that coincidently were of the most robust and potent plants in the world. These fast finishing and hardy plants were a great fit for the mountains and extreme climate of Humboldt. This is why we were so successful. This combination made Humboldt the center of all cannabis in the United States….eventually the whole world. We all grew the same thing and sold at the same price.
Then the helicopters started coming. Our geneticists began breeding plants that would grow well under trees….we moved out of the sun into the trees and our geneticists made sure we had the right plants…..we again were successful.
Then the indoor revolution began. When we moved indoors we stopped using our now local genetics and supplanted them with Dutch made strains. This was our mistake. These genetics could be found anywhere. While Humboldt was still the largest producer of cannabis at the time, we were no longer producing our own genetics. Why shop in Humboldt if you could buy the same thing anywhere? This had to change.
We asked the question: why aren’t we growing our own weed in our grow rooms? We went to a local geneticist who was the only person growing local Mazari genetics indoors and asked him for his plants. He gave us permission to propagate them and distribute them. We set out to propagate these local genetics and distribute them to everyone who needed them. Because our local genetics descended from Mazari-I-sheriff were in fact stronger, faster and more potent, it made every farmer in the county more successful. These genetics were the weapons we weilded when we won the war on drugs. These plants were bullet proof. Humboldt county again became the center of the cannabis world by growing their own genetics…the world again came to us for the good stuff. We all grew the same thing and we all sold at the same price.
Then Canada started shipping “beasters” into the USA at $1500 a pound when we were selling our indoor at $4000. We didn’t adapt quickly enough. The State’s dealers dumped us for the cheaper product…..California’s consumers were fooled. This lasted for a while. Long enough to end our reign completely. We were in trouble.
Then a local geneticist produced gum drop Purple…the original purple strain. A black Afi born in Humboldt. We again got hold of this cultivar and set out to distribute it to everyone locally. We all grew it indoors. The word Purple became synonymous with the words “Humboldt indoor”. We all grew the same thing and we all sold it for the same price. We stood together.
Then OG Kush was introduced to the market. Og was not a local cultivar. OG does not grow well for us indoors or outdoors. Og popped our bubble. Prices of Purple began to plummet. We no longer had control of our market. The price of Purple dropped until no one could afford to grow it. We were in trouble again.
This time another layer was added. So many farms in the State were harvesting full term orchard style plants in October that the price started dropping uncontrollably every year. It did so at the rate of $300/lb per year for 10 years….it was clear that we needed to grow outside, but it was also clear we needed to harvest earlier in the season. If we all harvest at the same time, we drive the price down. We tried auto flower for a while to accomplish this – no go. We were in trouble.
Then a core group of Humboldt farmers evolved to light dep and greenhouse farming. Our temperate/ cool climate in those years in Humboldt forced us into greenhouses. Mendocino was outgrowing us because of their hot climate creating much larger plants and much larger yields than Humboldt farmers were at the time. Og Kush grew well in a greenhouse. We harvested earlier than our competition and our farms no longer drove the prices down in October. We again changed the paradigm. Humboldt became the center of all OG Kush production in the world. Even though OG was not our homebrewed strain, we got good at it and we mono- cropped it and we harvested it before everyone else. We all grew the same thing and we all sold it for the same price.
Then came legalization. Finally after being forced to mono-crop for generations, we again had the ability to grow what we wanted to grow…..after small OG forever we could farm high yielders that we enjoyed again like when we were kids! At the same time, a huge genetics revolution was taking place across California with most of the genetics being created BY indoor farmers FOR indoor farmers. Interestingly, mono-cropping was always the key to our success and at the same time a limitation to genetic diversity. We always knew this was a problem for us moving forward. Confusing times for us. One thing was clear…. We needed a LOCALLY CREATED MENU of high yielding, high potency, fast finishing cultivars covering the full range of cannabis genres.
We need to replicate these historic strategies and adapt them to solve our current dilemma: new genetics coming onto the market are often coming from Southern California. These genetics are often “studio strains” that can not be grown on our farms commercially. Keep in mind that anything that will be consumed by 50% or more of Californians will need to be adapted to light dep and or greenhouse farming…..most of our volume comes from light dep and greenhouse farms. This is the product that makes it onto the shelves in stores and competes with indoor. Only a small percentage of consumers can afford indoor and only a small number of indoors are licensed. This means the indoor can not satisfy California’s consumption needs. Full term, outdoor, orchard style farming is a dying art that will have to evolve quickly or, in fact, die soon. In this new world, mono-cropping will not work anymore…..there are too many options available for consumers. We need to establish genres or categories that are easier to navigate for our consumers.
Currently, our Humboldt county geneticists rarely create strains for all of us to grow. It is essential to our survival that our local geneticists create a full spectrum of cultivars that are easy to farm and then distribute those varieties to our farms at a rapid rate. Bring the center back to our community………get the ball back in our hands. Only farm Humboldt born genetics.
Simply put: when we all grow the same thing and when that comes from Humboldt, the world has to come to us for the good stuff. Right now that is not the case. There is good stuff everywhere and our geneticists aren’t distributing their new stuff to our farms….we are in trouble. The good new is the competition doesnt know a good thing when they see it. They grow everything for a few years and dump it…..this is how we lose lots of good stuff along the way.
It is the responsibility of Humboldt county farmers to create new commercial grade cultivars, identify existing commercial grade and classic cultivars and archive them. Like recruiters we find talent because we have the eye for it and we see what others do not. We also know how to take that talent and turn it into a top of the charts star.
The county and state have done everything they can do to limit diversity and our ability to generate and distribute new genetics. Our local geneticists that insist on keeping their genetics to themselves are no help. Once a cultivar wins the emerald cup it needs to be added to our menu. It needs to be cultivated by a percentage of the farms in the county. It needs to be on every shelf in the state within a year. Strains dont get famous with one guy growing them! We can’t let anymore emerald cup winners die at the county line. You have the power to transcend this paradigm.
We can again make Humboldt the center of the cannabis world. This can be done by strategically putting award winning, easy to grow genetics into the hands of our local farms. This is a call to action. We need a “full menu” of Humboldt-born and controlled genetics in enough abundance to feed the whole state……simple enough right?
The Humboldt Growers Network
Get to know your corporate opponent. How do they operate? How often do they eat? What do they need to survive? Where do their resources start and end?
Publicly traded companies don’t spend their own money. They spend their shareholders money until it runs out. And run out it will.
Find out what their business plan is. What is their timeline for making a profit? Its usually 3-5 years…..even Patron and Corona and Pepsi etc won’t just pour money into something forever with no profit….they are used to creating markets rather than entering markets that were created 40 years ago. They plan to win quickly. They think they can just buy their way in.
They will not have that experience here. They will have the same experience everyone has with cannabis…..it consumes you and you are aways in over your head, no matter who you are.
All these big cannabis companies have been valuated at inflated prices based on best case dreams of what they could be worth. They are all worth a lot less when flower prices are less…..their value drops like a rock.
They are already years into their proforma business plan….they are getting close to the point where they decide to sell or continue. When they get to the date they are supposed to break even and start profiting and that day comes and goes they get scared and sell out. Even the giants sell out. That’s the difference between us and them…..they are not in it for the long haul.
We don’t need to become them to beat them. As a unit we only need to destabilize their market for long enough that they will starve to death. Lets break it down:
20% manufactured products.
30% indoor flower
30% sungrown flower
Stores carry more than one sungrown flower brand on their shelves. 3 is the minimum. And most stores carry 10-20 or more flower brands. This means that any one farm or player is never going to get that whole shelf space…..stores today, especially smaller ones, carry brand no one else has….they carry local brands and equity brands. The point is, its virtually impossible for the big corps to execute their plan in time to stay afloat…..they look like they did the math, but they have not!
There are other ways to find their weaknesses.
Are they breaking environmental laws? If the State and our local environmentalists are crucifying small Humboldt farmers, why are they not investigating these mega farms for violations….if anyone’s water is getting rationed, it should be these guys.
Are they breaking diversion laws? Rumor has it they sell out the back door
Are they breaking ethical and or brand infringement laws? Rumor has it they put labels that say Humboldt on them in Santa Barbara.
10 steps to winning the cannabis war:
1. You can’t do it from Humboldt. This is a lifestyle change.
2. Every store in the State wants your product. You just need to be nice to them.
3. No one wants to buy from big corps. You need to go remind them of that in person.
4. There are enough stores for every Humboldt farm to be in at least one. Right now if every farmer takes one store in the State, we would be in all of them. It could be done by oct 15th….D day.
5. Don’t rely on distributors. They can’t move fast enough. They need established brands or at least orders. Response time is everything. Two weeks is too long.
6. Find a store somewhere you like to go. Target a store and frequent it. Get to know the people. Get to know the products.
7. Maybe you have family in the State near stores. If not, get a hotel down the street once a month for a week. Rent an apartment with 3 friends and rotate weekly.
8. They will only buy your weed if you go there in person frequently. Inform them. Tell them to buy from family farms. Tell them which brands not to buy from. Get to know what your customers need. Figure out how to fit into the store.
9. You’ll need to show them a compliant package. Get one designed and made for a few hundred bucks. There are instructions on the DCC site. Keep it simple. Package it yourself on your farm. It’s only a few bags to start out with. No one in the state sells enough weed in any store to warrant automated packaging or hiring out packaging. Its just like trimming. You can serve up to 50,000 customers a month with 4-6 people.
10. Once you have orders, distros will deliver for you. You’ll get attention if you know the stores. You’ll be their most effective sales person. They need successful brands to survive…..you are a successful brand.
Put a Humboldt farmer at the door of every store in the State. The big guys can’t compete with that kind of personalized attention. You have to put your body in front of theirs to win this. No one is gonna do it for you!
How is Mendocino County handling cannabis governance?
Yeah, you had better listen to this one. We interview Rick Holton of Humboldt Distribution Company. We talk all about the collapsing cannabis market, here in California and in Humboldt. Farmers were not expecting this price drop…