For a vast majority of the legal cannabis operators on the East Coast, the sweet leaf grows in massive, temperature-controlled indoor warehouses or semi-permeable greenhouses that allow for more natural light. For one licensed Maryland cultivator, though, this October marks a special occasion — the harvest of the region’s very first full-scale outdoor pot grow.
According to the Washington Post, the Cambridge, Maryland-based medical marijuana provider Culta is currently in the process of pulling down the East Coast’s inaugural sun grown cannabis crop. Culta also grows cannabis indoors, but decided to put their growing skills to the test against the weather of the mid-Atlantic’s seasonal shifts.
“It’s a race against the clock to get it out of the field,” Culta owner Mackie Barch told the Post.
Outdoor cannabis grows have been a long standing tradition in California, Oregon, Washington State, Colorado, and other West Coast states. But in Maryland and other East Coast areas with legal weed laws on the books, sticky, humid summers quickly turn into bitter, cold autumns, leaving narrow windows for optimal terpene and cannabinoid formation.
“You need six months of hot, dry days with cool nights, which few East Coast places have,” said Michael Wheeler, a vice president at the California cannabis company Flow Kana.
Culta will not sell the first sungrown crop as whole flower, but rather use the cannabis for extract production. But considering that the outdoor grow was a long shot in the first place, the fact that the entire plot made it to harvest at all is a significant victory for the Old Line State company.
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In Massachusetts, four companies have been licensed to grow outdoors, but none of those businesses put seeds or clones under the sun this season. Unlike indoor grows, outdoor cultivation takes a significant portion of the year, and mistakes tend to be hard to fix. But even with those pitfalls waiting, outdoor purists are adamant that the end product is worth the risk.
“No diss against indoor, but outdoor is a totally different product,” Wheeler told the Post. “If you’ve ever experienced the satisfaction of a ripe, sun-grown tomato from a farmers market, then you can appreciate the difference between outdoor grown cannabis and indoor.”
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