The Spring CannaGrow Expo took place May 7 – 8 in Mission Bay, San Diego. The two-day event was held at Paradise Point, a 44-acre island retreat, the perfect venue to host a weekend full of cannabis education and conversation. Speakers touched on topics from large scale automation to extraction and light deprivation techniques while vendors and entrepreneurs lined the banquet hall in booths to showcase their products and services.

The expo featured approximately ten speakers each day across five different time slots (meaning you had to pick and choose which session to attend). I was quite pleased with the breadth of topics and found that the sessions ranged from novice to fairly technical, making it easy to find value despite one’s resume (or lack thereof). Most importantly, the resort venue provided an environment conducive to meeting others in the industry and/or tracking down a speaker for a question. A poolside party on Saturday evening also provided a great opportunity to mingle and share a smoke with fellow enthusiasts.

Highlighting a few of the sessions that I attended, Jennifer Martin’s decades of research and experience have provided her with remarkable insight on optimizing plant growth and her session on Plant Health Management for Optimal Quality was particularly insightful. She was able to cram a remarkable amount of practical information in her limited time slot.

Having made the recent decision to ‘break the bottle’ and instead rely on living soil and organic cultivation practices, I also wanted to make sure to catch Drew Plebani’s session on Organic Soil Building, Soil Fertility, and Intro to Soil Food Web Systems. Understanding the soil food web is paramount to natural, organic cultivation and Drew did an amazing job at introducing the topic and expounding on its importance. One important takeaway was that if biology is truly beneficial it should stick around. There should be limited need to reapply beneficials to a properly balanced system. I also caught Shane Young’s Session on Using Beneficial Insects for Natural Pest Management. After all, when relying on biological cultivation practices, it’s equally important to utilize biological pest management options. Instead of pesticide sprays and bombs, Shane’s company, Natural Enemies, utilizes predator mites and other biological pest management solutions catered to your specific growing environment. With an influx of pesticide based recalls in Colorado and constantly changing regulatory guidelines and testing requirements, biological pest management is going to become highly important.

The vendors provided an equally beneficial opportunity to learn about the latest technology, techniques, and services available in the cannabis industry. One specific vendor that caught my eye was the CureCork, an automated burping appliance that comes in multiple sizes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the process of smelling newly harvested flower and watching it cure, but I can imagine the time and effort savings that this technology might have at scale. Lastly, I also have to give a big shout out to the Seed Vault for bringing a huge variety of new and legacy seeds to the event for all of us genetics junkies to pour over.

For those of you who missed the opportunity to check out the event in San Diego, don’t forget to sign up for updates about the next one in Denver on October 29 and 30 at the CannaGrow Expo Site.