How long have you worked for Five Zero Trees? “This spring will be a year.” Do you consider yourself a farmer?
“Yes, I consider myself a farmer above all things because when you’re working with these plants — both indoors and out — you’re concerned with how you’re working with nature and that’s the mindset of a farmer.”
What’s the dirtiest part of your job?
“Cleaning an infestation of insects or Botrytis (fungus) — any mold or bud rot issue. Powdery mildew can also be pervasive if you’re not in control of it ahead of time. We always like to take the holistic upstream approach with plant health by trying to not allow certain factors to inhibit the growing process. We are constantly brewing compost teas with bat guano and fish bone meal.”
What’s the biggest challenge of the entire process? “The hardest part is when you can’t stay ahead of what’s coming. It takes a lot of careful assessment and measured planning. If you do have an infestation or run into a problem, it can cause a domino effect. You can lock out nutrients if you misdiagnose a nutrient deficiency.”
What’s a normal day for you? “Generally it’s an 8-hour day. Unless it’s a project that requires all hands on deck, like harvest time, then it will be from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. if we need to.” How many plants do you currently have in the greenhouse? “About 1,300. Last run we had about 1,500.”
How close to harvest are they? “They have at least six weeks. We like to go full term. When you let it ripen and mature to it’s full potential, you will get the mellower side of what that strain can provide.”
How do you determine which strains to grow? “We’re constantly experimenting with the strains, seeing what we like and don’t like. Then we decide if we want to continue with it or wipe it out. We’re constantly changing. We’re in the preliminary stage, but we’ve been collecting pollen and sprouting seeds to come up with our own crosses. The 413 Chem, Wedding Cake and Glazed Apricot are new to our strain list. We’re going to see how they go with this run and then cross what we think is interesting.”
What have been your most successful strains? “Some of them, like the Illusion OG, are crucial staples we like to keep. Platinum Animal Cookies is a great seller. Royal Highness is a really unique strain that’s equal parts CBD and THC with a sweet taste. We have a lot of fruit strains like Double Tangie Banana, Golden Lemon and Strawberry.”
Are there any trends you’ve noticed regarding strains? “Recently there’s been a lot of cookie crosses that have come out that are hot sellers. It seems like strains with fruity or sweeter terpenes are often the big sellers. It changes.”
What’s the biggest misconception about growing marijuana? “There could be the misconception that it’s an easy profession, that you just throw the plant in the ground and it will do it’s thing. A lot of people think cannabis grows like a weed, but to have a large-scale craft cannabis operation you need to stay on top of it and really think ahead about what you’re plants are needing to give them the proper environment to grow to their full potential.”
What were some of your learning experiences along the way? “The biggest life lesson I’ve been constantly reminded of while working in horticulture is that change is constant. Things are always changing when you’re growing. The moment that you try to resist that everything is changing is when you’re going to run into issues.”
What part brings you the greatest satisfaction? “That I’m doing something I love. A lot of people are just working, but I’m doing something that I love and want to do. A livelihood shouldn’t be about what gets you the most money, it should be about what brings you the most happiness.”