Marijuana producers have difficulty harvesting during the winter

Kyle Fenton, Staff Reporter

The majority of marijuana farmers in Kittitas County grow their crop during the summer months, in greenhouses or under the sun. This leaves the winter months for processing and finding buyers to purchase their product.
Mike Graham, owner of Natural Mystic Farms, has noticed a fluctuation in the market for marijuana.
“We’ve had to slash prices, and work in a highly competitive market,” Graham said.
Producers are having a much harder time placing their product in this competitive market, and many are choosing to hold inventory until their wholesale products improve.
The problem is that some businesses cannot afford to hold out for better prices, and need the income now.
“We’re not throwing in the towel and giving it away, but a lot of people are,” Graham said.
Some companies have been forced to sell their product below production cost. Graham says he thinks this issue stems from not having enough licensed retailers out there to move product.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) currently counts 339 approved producer licenses and 83 approved retail licenses.
Because of the flooded market, consumers have recently seen a dramatic price drop; they’re getting extremely close to medical and black market prices.
Rob Hendrix, owner of Cannabis Central, said in mid-November the cheapest gram for sale in his shop was $20.
“Here we are, approaching the middle of January, and we got flower for $10 a gram,” Hendrix said.

Life Gardens puts Kittitas on the map
Life Gardens, a tier three producer and processor located near Badger Pocket Road, has produced 4.84% of the state’s total production through Nov. 11, weighing in 1,225 pounds of bud and raw material.
This ranks them as a top-five producer in the state when considering the total percentage of  pounds harvested through Nov. 11, according to WSLCB.
Being a tier three producer means that they can use more space for operations compared to tier two and tier one operations.
Greta Carter, Founder and CEO for Life Gardens, strives to grow the bulk of her company’s cannabis in greenhouses during the summer months.
“We believe it is environmentally responsible to use the sun, and try to do everything we can to not leave our nasty carbon footprint,” Carter said.
Life Gardens harvested their last crop at the end of October and they don’t plan to turn another crop until spring time when the weather improves. This leaves about six to eight months before they fill their greenhouses again.

Staying busy during the offseason
Some retail marijuana businesses are licensed to process their own product in addition to their producer license.
If these businesses both produce and sell product, then they are exempt from the 25% excise tax that is required at each transaction process.
Mathieu Begni, Central alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, was hired by Life Gardens three weeks after graduating from Central last June.
The majority of Life Gardens employees are Central graduates,  and Carter takes pride in that.
Begni helps Life Gardens with social media and product label design, as well as managing inventory.
On a typical winter work day, Begni and his team weigh out grams to package, label and get them ready for delivery.
On a day without orders, they will take their marijuana that has already been machine trimmed, inspected for microbials, and been tested for potency and give the flower its final trim. They will then preserve the flower in special storage containers until more orders come in.
According to Begni, in the future Life Gardens will be growing marijuana year round. Currently, the only live plants on site are mother plants, which are plants that are kept from flowering in order to keep their strains alive and ready for future crops.
“At the moment we have our mothers, and we will be getting clones ready for spring,” Begni said.