Ellensburg marijuana growers prepare for harvest

Kyle Fenton, Staff Reporter

Fall is a joyous time for outdoor marijuana growers. It marks the summer crop coming to an end, and time for producers to reap the benefits of all their hard work.

There are numerous ways to grow cannabis. Outdoor or indoor, in greenhouses or hoop houses, in the ground or in pots, hydroponics or aeroponics, the list goes on.

There are pros and cons to each that people will argue for decades to come.

There is something to say about how magnificent and beautiful outdoor marijuana grows can be during harvest time.

DURBAN POISON - Natural Mystic Farms employee Mark Posteraro harvesting one of the farm's many plants.
Derrick Clarit
DURBAN POISON – Natural Mystic Farms employee harvesting one of the farm’s many plants.

Mike Graham, owner of Natural Mystics Farm in Ellensburg, grows his plants outdoor in hoop houses. A hoop house is a temporary green house, on a very small, affordable scale.

“Growing outdoor marijuana, you can see the true expression of the genetic potential,” Graham said.

Certain strains will not produce the same flower if grown inside versus outside. Some marijuana flowers, or buds, will only turn true colors, or will only reach full flavor and potential if they are grown in their natural outdoor element.

Jade Stefano, of Puffin Farms, chooses to grow in state-of-the-art, rigid-walled outdoor green houses and in hoop houses.

Stefano said that they’re utilizing all these different types of growing methods because it was such a short, rushed season. Referring to how they forced a flowering cycle after receiving their producing license so late in the year.

Marijuana plants will start to flower once their daily light exposure gets closer to 12 hours of light and 12 of darkness. The plants will continue to grow large in a vegetative state as long as their daily light exposure stays closer to 18 hours of light and 6 of darkness.

Stefano has two greenhouses at Puffin Farms. One is equipped with grow lights and a light deprivation system to keep all the different strains they have alive during winter and fall. They call this state of the art greenhouse “the mother room.”

A mother plant is a plant that is kept out of the flowering cycle to clone, to grow the exact same genetic (strain) time and time again.

Stefano keeps the plants in the mother room in pots ready to be transplanted at anytime.

The flowering plants are in the other greenhouse, and outdoors in rows, some under hoop houses, some not. All her flowering plants are planted straight into the ground and are going to be harvested over the next couple weeks.

“We bring the tractor in, till it all up, and then plant a cover crop,” Stefano said, explaining the process of preparing the soil in between flowering cycles.

A cover crop ensures the soil stays healthy between cycles, and is a common practice for vegetable gardeners.

“Should be a different ball game next year,” Graham said, which is one thing that nearly all-outdoor marijuana producers can agree on considering most producers received their licenses well after the growing season started.

“Once we get prices down it is going to be great for the consumer,” Graham said.