– the gold standard

Our Big Move… — February 6, 2018

Our Big Move…

Standing together we can all make one move right now that will turn the tables in our favor for good. Stop pre-trimming your product. Only trim for prepaid orders. Leave that huge pile of product you can’t afford to trim. Don’t trim it. The legal market buyers are only interested in purchasing your trim. They don’t seem to care if you can pay your bills or not. Side step that issue. Do not provide trim as a product for sale any more. If there is no trim available, buyers will be forced to buy the new product you are offering…..”bucked whole plant extractable biomass”. Once they are purchasing the whole plant, your problems are over.

Today we can’t staff our farms because the price point for trimming is still higher than it is for field work. As soon as people stop trimming their product prior to having orders for it, trimmers will start transitioning to field work for employment…..then we will have the staff we need.

Today our flower prices are plummeting because there is too much flower on the market. Our trim prices are increasing because there is not enough trim on the market and the value added products that are based on oil are in demand. Indoor flower still accounts for most of the flower sold over the counter. This is making it almost impossible for us to sell sun grown flower. Once we are selling a biomass product we will again be in control of supply and demand.

If we all work together.

That means we need Mendocino, our sister County (now the largest producer of biomass product). Together, we control most of the available unbranded product in the State. That means if we change the way we sell it, they will have to buy it that way.

Once we have established this new market we can affect the prices. Biomass bucked product weighs about 2 times what your trimmed flower does. If you have 100 pounds of trimmed flower…you also have about 100 pounds of trim. Sold as a bucked product (not separated), its over 200 pounds. When trim is extracted it yields about 10% by weight. When biomass bucked product is extracted it yields 15-25% by weight. Selling trimmed product with a trimming expense of $150-200/pound+running+compliance costs at $700-1000 a pound nets no profit. If you are selling a bucked product for $500 a pound (and double it by volume), then, apples to apples, you are grossing the same $1000, minus all the trimming costs, avoiding the taxes on trimmed flower, and avoiding compliance costs related to processing or packaging. Your expenses just went way down.

Stop trying to accomodate trimmers on your property. Stop trying to package your own product. 90% of cannabis businesses in the country lose their licenses due to non-compliance at the packaging or inventory stages. Let the distributor take the fall for you. Bucking your product down as it comes off the lines is not processing and does not require all the compliance official processing does. If you are only trimming small amounts of flower for pre-paid orders your compliance issues are significantly mitigated.

Don’t stop there. Take it one step further. Choose to only sell your extractable biomass product in the Emerald Triangle. Do not export anything in extractable form. Support Humboldt manufacturers if you are from Humboldt. Support Mendocino manufacturers if you are from Mendocino. Don’t use the companies that move up either. Use historic local and family run organizations. Do not allow outside extractors to have control of our extractable products and we will maintain control of the industry. Make sure all our products go through local supply chains and end up in consumers hands directly from us – with our brand.

Establishing an “extractable biomass market” will pave the way for local farms to enter the legal industry.

We can avoid our single largest expense.
We can transition our staff to the projects we need worked on.
We can redefine our product lines.
We can affect the prices.
We can keep the industry centered in the Emerald Triangle
We are in control….just take control.

The second your product is all trimmed you have given up your power play. Everyone must stand firm on this. When we do, we will be able to set prices that include enough profit to survive on. This is the most straight forward power play imaginable. Do what you already want to do. Stop trimming!

From back to the landers to take back the landers — January 29, 2018

From back to the landers to take back the landers


Here are some thoughts to consider :

There has been a running sentiment in our community for a long time, “get these green rush’n, big money growers out of our community”. For them, the breaking point may have been reached and now they are leaving. Bankrupt in all likelihood. This will give those who have wanted them gone an opportunity to retake the land.

It would be nice to have a mechanism by which those properties being vacated can go to faithful stewards of the land or new families moving in to staff all of our farms. The real estate values will drop on unlicensed properties and they could be within reach of young families. It would be a brilliant move by the County to start an entity that would buy up and then resell these properties. There could be a level of local regulation that could help expanding farms purchase adjacent properties thus increasing their employment opportunities. Create a housing program for placing young professionals and new farming families on these properties. We could even put them into a land-preserve to be sustainably managed.

Take the former Tooby Ranch as an example: the Tooby ranch is 13,000 acres comprised of parcels larger than 160 acre. There are 50ish owners in this area. The farms are larger and the density is lower and most of the owners are second generation farmers….rightful stewards.

This would be a great model to follow county wide as an idealized cannabis community. In the communities with 40 acre parcels, as residents are forced to leave those communities, the neighbors have the opportunity to lower density. The licensed successful farmers will need to expand into the land around them. The County needs to subsidize this by holding these properties in trust to be accessed by the farms when needed through application. We need a mechanism that holds property for local farmers and a job placement program for non compliant farmers who want to remain in the community as farmers.

This mechanism needs to also make homes available for new farming families and could encourage new residential construction. We have the talent living here; we need to keep them living here. As the properties change hands, we need to keep people in their homes and enable them to work in adjacent farms. We do not want the fabric of our community disrupted.

If it works or not, we all got to start thinking.



Water Savings… — May 21, 2015

Water Savings…


Everyone is talking about how to save water this summer.  Here are some helpful tips from Humboldt Growers Collective on how you can save water while doubling your yield, dramatically improving quality, and cutting your time and labor in half.

Have you ever thought about how proportion effects your plants?  The way a plant allocates its energy is directly related to its proportions.  As plants become taller than they are wide, they become less efficient.  This is true at every phase of the growing cycle.  Taller clones or seed starts have fewer branches and become woody, yellow, and diseased.  Taller growing plants convert a larger ratio of biomass to vegetation rather than flowers.  Taller budding plants produce flowers similar to hemp rather than the AAA product we all want.  In every phase, plants that are taller than they are wide proportionately consume more water creating an inferior final product.

When you are choosing what kind of plant to grow, if you are located below 1500 ft elevation, choose clones; because they will do well in that climate zone and will use considerably less water than seed starts over their total term per pound produced.  If you are located above 1500 ft elevation, you will have to grow seed starts.  In that event, tie them down, trellis them, or weave them.  Make sure that the profile of the plant stays wider than it is tall and you will see a marked decrease in water consumption, food consumption, and labor while seeing a marked increase in production and quality.

In any climate zone, “tie-downs” or “woven” or “trellised” plants will make your life much better.  If you can grow in a greenhouse rather than outdoor, you can “light deprive” your plants.  This will allow you to cut your growing season in half.  Gallons to pounds, you will exceed your neighbors growing outdoor by at least two times while bringing your harvest to the table for sale months ahead of them.  You can tell your neighbors,”I’m not consuming any water while the aquifer is low!”. You can also avoid pests and disease of all shapes and sizes.  These problems won’t have as much time to develop.

By leafing your plants when they reach maximum size and then continuing to do so every 2 weeks afterwards, you can remove much of the unnecessary biomass you are supporting and focus all of your resources on viable product.  The ratio of biomass removed correlates directly to the amount of resources saved!  This also puts you in a position where at crops end you have already cleaned it.  The need for costly “processing”  lessens.

These solutions cost nothing, save you money in the long run and put a ton of money in your pocket when you need it!

If you want to go beyond “passive” strategies this season and have at least $6000.00 to work with, drill a well (vertical or horizontal), dig a pond, or install a rain catching tank.  Stop diverting surface water!  You can avoid persecution by the authorities and tell your neighbors.”I’m zero impact!”



There has been an assumption made that cannabis growers are now responsible for the destruction of the Eel River watershed.  However, we all know the Eel River was on the most endangered rivers list long before cannabis cultivation had any impact.  Now, due to the drought, cannabis needs to be evaluated the same way all agricultural crops are evaluated.
In comparison with other agricultural crops, cannabis does use a good deal of water. It is current opinion that cannabis cultivation should be limited based on water consumption.

The Humboldt Growers Association (now Emerald Growers Association) proposed an ordinance in 2010 stating that “marijuana used an average of 22.7 liters (6 gallons) of water a day.”  The statistics in that report on gallons used per day per plant were overstated (Emerald Growers Association no longer supports these statistics.). Now they have been referenced again in the Bauer report  “Impacts of Surface Water Diversions for Marijuana Cultivation on Aquatic Habitat in Four Northwestern California Watersheds.”  Neither of these accounts takes into consideration water consumption in relation to total biomass. The square foot assessment does not account for the variation in water consumption per square foot relevant to the average height of a plant or garden.  This will result in gross overestimates of water consumption and a reduction in production allowed by the county and or state.

A CURRENT ACCURATE CANNABIS WATER USE STUDY IS NOT YET ON RECORD. This paper will show that crops need to be measured volumetrically in gallons/day/pound if we are to be able to analyze the impact of cannabis on the water supply. Humboldt Growers Collective encourages all growers from Humboldt to submit to Humboldt Growers Collective their own water studies so that we may begin building a database of pertinent water information for our county.

Our current accepted system of growing cannabis encourages growers to remain at peak water consumption during the months that the aquifer is most in danger of collapsing.
Our hypothesis is that if we grow more and smaller plants while finishing them over a shorter life cycle, we can greatly reduce the total number of gallons it takes to grow a pound of cannabis. Further more, cannabis does not need to be grown during the dry months at all.

More plants per square foot = a shorter life cycle = less total water used per pound grown.


This study compares two gardens over a 5 year period from 2010-2014. We are presenting results as the 5 year average.  Our test groups were a contrast of two very different growing techniques.  Our prediction was that we could ascertain the high and low rates of cannabis water consumption. Our intent is to present these findings as a way to navigate the “cannabis water use issue.”

The various coefficients considered were:
– soil volume/surface area ratio: what is the ratio of soil, to surface area, to water consumption, to pounds yielded?
– soil density: does the soil contain a wetting agent? how does it distribute(utilize) the water?
– type of containment: what percentage of water is lost? what percent actually gets used by the plant?
– seed starts vs clone starts: Is there an advantage to one over the other?
– total area occupied by a “unit”:  The subject unit varies in size between the two groups.  the question is.”how many cubic feet does a pound of cannabis require?”
– water application and distribution:  how is the water distributed?
– equilibrium:  is the plant taller than it is wide?  do plants proportions affect its metabolic rate?
– evapotranspiration ratio: larger plants evaporate and transpire more than smaller plants. do they do it as efficiently?
– plant hydraulics: amount of energy expended in pumping action per vertical inch of plant mass.
– production biomass vs. support biomass ratio: what percent of the total plant mass is “produce”? what percent of total mass is there to support the produce?
– harvest process: how laborious was the harvest process?
– product quality: does it decline in relationship to the plant’s overall biomass?

For our control group, we used the current model supported by the state, county and local environmentalist groups. Current belief is that this system will effectively limit cannabis cultivation and therefore water consumption.  The emphasis on this system is on low plant count.  This encourages the grower to run crops “full term” in hopes of maximizing yields, encouraging peak water consumption during the most impacted months.

This control group is the “Traditional 215” outdoor method, involving full term plants, 6 feet tall, with 99 plants in a garden. These plants are caged and tied vertically. We used the following equation to determine the control group’s consumption :

Total gallons/180 days = x / total yield = gallons/day/pound.( x = the average number of gallons consumed per day)

The particulars of this method are listed below:
– 6 month crop: beginning April 15th and ending October 15th
– 100 gallon pots on 12 ft. centers. total area of garden: 14400 sq. ft.
– 100 gallons of soil with wetting agent (surface area 12 sq. ft.) (8.3 gallons of soil per sq. ft. of surface area)
-1 clone per pot on 12’ ft. centers. (each unit area taking 144 sq. ft.)
– water was administered by hand with a hose. Exact bed by bed measurements were taken.
For our test group, we chose the most efficient system we could find.  The parameters in this system are open-ended. This encourages the grower to run the most efficient crop they can.  It allows the grower to get similar yields without growing during the dry season when the aquifer is at its low point.

This test group is based on the greenhouse light deprivation method involving short term clone plants, 3 feet tall. These plants are woven through a horizontal trellis netting system. We used the following equation to determine the control group’s consumption :

– Total gallons/90 days = x divided by total yield = gallons/day/pound.(x = average gallons consumed per day)

The particulars of this method are listed below:
– 3 month crop: beginning April 15th and ending July 15th
– 5’x5’ beds 8” deep. total area of garden: 4000 sq. ft.
– fully lined and contained beds
– 150 gallons of soil with wetting agent (surface area 25 sq. ft.) (6 gallons of soil  per sq. ft of surface area)
– 6 clones per bed  with 3 ft isles. (each unit area taking up 40 sq. ft.)
– water was administered by hand with a hose. exact bed by bed measurements were taken.


The first graph below charts the weekly water consumption per container for the term life of the control group.. The vertical axis is gallons used per week, while the horizontal axis is a week by week timeline.

Grow Period from April 15th to October 15 (approximately 180 days)


Total number of gallons used is 787 / 100 gal container / over 180 days
average yield was 2.5 pounds per container.

The second graph below charts water consumption per bed for the term life of the test group. The vertical axis is gallons used per week, while the horizontal axis is a week by week timeline.

Grow Period from April 15th to July 15 (approximately 90 days)


Total number of gallons used is 315 / 150 gal bed / over 90 days
average yield was 2.0 pounds per 25 sq. ft. bed.


Control group:
– used 787 gallons per plant (unit)
– yielded 2.5 pounds per plant
– it took 315 gallons of water to grow one pound
– it used 4.375 an average gallons of water a day per plant (unit)……..It was not 22.7 litres or 6 gallons.
– it took 1.75 gallons a day for approximately 180 days to grow a pound given these conditions.
– this group was laid out like an orchard  (12 ft centers) to keep one plant from shading another.
– this group took considerable work involving ladders
– the pot and surface soil were exposed to the sun
– half of the plant was always in the shade
– most of the plant matter(biomass) appeared to be infrastructure or support. Only 30% of the biomass was actual produce.
– the maintenance and tying was a lot of work – often involving cages
– it consumed the most water from mid July to mid September – right when the aquifer is low.
– it was harvested over two weeks in three stages.
– there were three distinct levels of quality: A (top buds), B (next tier, medium buds), and C (popcorn buds.)
– drying and curing were difficult in October during the rainy  season. There were losses to mold.
– the crop was harvested when competition for sales is at its worst and prices are at their lowest. It did not sell until spring.  It had to be stored for the winter.  There was no money to pay the bills. There was no money to pay the employees.  There was no money for Christmas.

Test group:
– used 315 per bed (unit)
– yielded 2.0 pounds
– it took 158 gallons of water to grow one pound
– it used  3.5 gallons a day per bed (unit)……..almost a gallon a day less!
– it took 1.75 gallons a day for approximately 90 days to grow one pound.
– the beds did not shade each other
– all the work was at counter height. No overhead work. No work on ladders.
– the plants shaded their own soil
– the shallow soil seemed easier for the plants to utilize
– no part of the plant was in the shade
– most of the plant matter(biomass) appeared to be product not infrastructure. 70% of the biomass was product.
– once the initial netting was installed for the tie down there was no tying or support maintenance.
– it was harvest by early July so it never impacted the aquifer during the “red” months
– it was harvested in one day and in one stage (top bud only)
– there was one distinct level of quality: AAA top buds (control group never achieved this level of quality)
– this crop was harvested in July. It took no energy to dry it passively and there was no loss to mold.
– this crop was harvested early enough to sell at the peak high price for the season. The entire crop sold by October 1st; all the bills were paid and everyone got Christmas bonuses.
– this crops carbon footprint was considerably lower than the full term crop.


Dividing the total number of gallons used for “one unit’s” life cycle by the  total number of days in the life cycle gives us the number of gallons used per day (x).  Dividing the number of gallons used a day by the number of pounds per unit gives us the number of gallons per day per pound.

Total number of gallons / total number of days = x
Control group = 787 gals / 180 =  4.375 gals/day used / 2.5 lbs = 1.75 gal / day /pound
787 gals / 2.5 lbs = 315 gals / pound
Test group = 315 gals / 90 = 3.5 gals/day used / 2 lbs = 1.75 gal / day / pound
315 gals / 2 lbs = 158 gals / pound

Some comments on the various coefficients considered are listed below:

– Soil volume/surface area ratio: a low soil volume to a high surface area ratio allows the plant to breath, better utilize the soil volume, distribute water more evenly.
– Soil density: soils that contain wetting agents distribute moisture evenly, always accept water after drying, and may be recycled indefinitely. Heavy soils retain water at the bottom of the bed or pot while drying out on top.  Heavy soils do not re-accept water after drying. Heavy soils must be replaced annually.
– Type of containment: plastic lined beds contain 100% of the water.  Uncontained beds “bleed” from over watering and osmosis.
– Seed starts vs clone starts:  seed starts are hearty, have a deep root system, strong upper structure, and use much more water.  Clone starts are weaker, have shallow root system, weak upper structure, and use much less water.
– Total area occupied by a “unit”:  the stand up plants require a large area around them to stop them from shading each other.  In this study the area was 144 sq. ft. per “unit”.
A great advantage to the stand up plant is it can be grown on uneven ground.  The light deprivation greenhouse requires level ground.  The dep. bed occupies 40 sq. ft. per “unit”.  The dep bed garden requires 30% of the space required by the stand up plant garden.
– Water application and distribution:  although automated systems are much more efficient and dependable, in this study, water was administered by hand and measured.  This insured that no water was lost in the process.
– Equilibrium: a plant’s proportions significantly affect its metabolic rate. Tall, skinny plants metabolize inefficiently, while short, wide plants metabolize efficiently.
– Evapotranspiration ratio: larger plants evaporate and transpire more than smaller plants
– Plant hydraulics: energy expended in pumping action per vertical inch of plant mass.  Stand up plants expend a lot of energy just supporting their upper structure.
– Production biomass vs. support biomass ratio: the stand up plants are about 30% viable product and about 70% support structure.  The opposite is true for the dep plants, they are 70% viable product and 30% support structure.
– Harvest process: the stand up plants took 2 weeks to harvest. The crop was never ready all at once. The greenhouse light deprivation plants were already at the same time and took one day to harvest.
– Product quality: the stand up plants had levels of quality: A,B,C.  The highest quality of the stand ups never compared to the AAA quality of the greenhouse light dep cannabis.

As plants get larger, the amount of water utilized for one pound becomes larger in order to sustain the additional biomass of the “support system”. The first pie chart below shows the ratio of energy expended by the control group (30% product/70% support).  The second pie chart illustrates the test group results (70% product/30% support).

70:30_pie   30:70_pie

Product quality is directly related to this ratio.  As the ratio of marketable product goes down in relation to biomass so does product quality.


We believe that, paradoxically, more plants equal less water use. A higher plant count fills the soil volume faster, and, with light deprivation techniques, we can yield the same or more per year and use significantly less water.

Cannabis does not have to impact the aquifer during the dry months. The traditional method is at peak water consumption from August to October – the driest months of the year. The greenhouse light deprivation method does not consume any water during these months.
Humboldt county can raise cannabis quality dramatically and cut water use in half by moving towards light deprivation greenhouse growing.

As biomass increases past the point of “equilibrium” (when the plant grows taller than it is wide) cannabis reverts to a more “hemp like” product, resulting in a significant decrease in quality. As biomass increases past the point of “equilibrium”,  the percentage of water utilized for gain decreases significantly, while the percentage of water diverted to support biomass increases significantly. This “ volumetric equation for biomass” incentivizes the Humboldt grower to use less water!

Finally, our concern is that a gross overestimate of water consumption will unfairly restrict Humboldt farmers. Faulty assumptions about Humboldt water use will also result in regulations that create a reduction in production and, therefore, market  penetration. We do not hear anyone trying to restrict almond growers, but almond groves consume far more water than cannabis gardens. Let us base water use regulations here in Humboldt on common sense – talk to the farmers!


– Humboldt Growers Association proposed 2010 ordinance

– California State’s research article: “Impacts of Surface Water Diversions for Marijuana Cultivation on Aquatic Habitat in Four Northwestern California Watersheds.”

– Cannabis Voice: “6th draft ordinance”