Western US States Are Reporting a Record-Breaking Weed Harvest This Year
Pot farmers in California, Oregon, and Washington are reporting record yields of high-quality flower in this year's harvest, but some worry that excess weed could be diverted to the black market.
Published on October 25, 2019

2019 is turning out to be a banner year for legal cannabis cultivators on the Pacific Coast. Despite early fall rains and microbial infestations, weed growers in California, Oregon, and Washington have risen to the occasion and produced one of the West Coast's most robust legal weed harvests to date.

Farmers in the Emerald Triangle, the epicenter of Northern California's commercial weed production, are currently in the midst of their fall harvest, which runs from August until early December. Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the Emerald Grown cooperative, told Marijuana Business Daily that the quality of the flower being harvested this year is “phenomenal” so far. “There’s no such thing as a perfect year,” he added. “But it’s been a good year.”

The Emerald Triangle, which comprises Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties, experienced early fall rain this year, creating problems with mildew and mold. Regardless, farmers have been able to harvest a “good volume of great cannabis,” Allen said. However, farmers are reportedly struggling to find legal buyers to take their quality product off their hands.

California has issued thousands of cannabis cultivation licenses, but around 70 percent of all local governments in the state have banned weed retailers from their jurisdictions. As a result, there are only about 700 legal pot retailers in the entire state, leaving many pot farmers with no one to sell their crops to — except black market smugglers

“California consumers for the most part can’t get this amazing flower,” Allen said. “Not only is it great, it’s tested and clean.”

This year's excellent harvest season is a relief for NorCal pot farmers, especially compared to last year. From late last summer until the fall, wildfires raged across the region, destroying thousands of acres of cannabis plants just as they were ready to be harvested. 

In Oregon, farmers are also reporting a record crop this year, despite the particularly rainy fall. Kevin Hogan, president and co-founder of Oregrown Industries, told MJ Biz Daily that this year is “the best harvest we've ever had.” In Southern Oregon, pot farmers have had to contend with botrytis fungus as well as hungry caterpillars, but growers have still managed to produce a healthy harvest.

Gallery — Know When to Harvest Your Weed

Oregon's farmers also have another reason to rejoice, as wholesale prices are rebounding now that the state is working to control its massive oversupply problem. Last year, the state found itself with millions of pounds of excess flower, and prices tanked to $500 a pound. This fall, prices are rallying, ranging from $1,000 to as high as $2,800 a pound on the wholesale market.

In Washington State, the weather has been especially rainy, cold, and cloudy this year, threatening the state's legal cultivation industry. “The weather has been super-challenging,” said Jeremy Moberg, founder and CEO of CannaSol Farms, to MJ Biz Daily. “If you want to grow mold, you ask for rain every five days.” The cold weather also led to smaller-than-usual plants, but this is not all bad, as smaller plants are less likely to grow mold.

Washington growers have found a few new tricks to help them avoid the difficulties caused by the weather. Moberg reports that some of his harvest, which was grown in a light-deprivation greenhouse, was “phenomenal.” And Anders Taylor, a grower in Okanogan County, said that his harvest is around double that of last year, thanks to autoflowering plants, which can flower in a shorter cycle than regular cannabis varietals. 

Washington's wholesale market is also on the rebound, with prices hitting around $1,000 a pound, 10 to 20 percent higher than last year.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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