A floral crop is growing next to the Sauvignon Blanc wineries near Cape Town

There is a region in South Africa, near Cape Town, renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc: the climate conditions there are particularly suitable for growing this grape variety. Yet, there is another crop that stepped into this region, which is grown next to the grape fields. Cannsun is one of the largest cannabis license holders in South Africa, and their 23-hectare farm is exactly located in the heart of the South African wine region. “There are 15 wineries close to us,” says David Parry, CEO of Cannsun. “This area is relatively close to the ocean, which provides the whole region with a perfect microclimate to grow Sauvignon Blanc grapes, but also Cannabis.”

David continues explaining that the cooling breeze coming from the coast ensures that the temperature doesn’t get as warm as in the rest of Cape Town. “We are blessed with a perfect microclimate here,” says Pholoso Malatji, co-founder and Head of Africa with Cannsun. “We have an abundance of photoperiod that allows us to grow high-CBD and high-THC cultivars at comparatively low cost. All these aspects attracted us to build our farm here, but also because of the possibility to create jobs and skills development, supporting the local community and economy.”

Greenhouse and outdoors
Cannsun grows their cannabis both outdoors and in greenhouses. “60% of the production is outdoors, and 40% is grown in greenhouses,” Pholoso explains. “The greenhouses were built specifically to allow us to keep growing also during winter times. We carry out a cumulative growing program, with the greenhouse harvest happening every other month.”

Cannsun has just recently finished harvesting two original cannabis cultivars that performed way better than David and Pholoso expected. “When we sat down to compile our EU-GACP grow program, we set up a schedule that would have ensured us a minimum of 22% THC concentration,” David says. “When the harvest was completed, we sent the flowers to get tested,” Pholoso continues. “I remember I got a call from the lab, and they said that the sample had a 28% THC concentration. When they tested it again, they got the same results. So we decided  to move ahead with that, and sent the sample to two other labs for cross-reference. Well, the 28% THC concentration was confirmed, and we couldn’t be prouder of our team for that.”

Controlled drying and curing 
Once the cannabis was harvest, Cannsun had to proceed to the drying and curing process, which they did with their brand-new state-of-the art drying facility. “The idea was to be able to accommodate the large capacity of the flowers we are growing,” Pholoso explains. “To dry them at a reasonable pace, at a low temperature and with optimal humidity in order to preserve all the organoleptic properties of our genetics.”

The drying room is 650 sq. mt. and was designed in such a way that all the variables can be utterly controlled. “It was very important when designing the drying room that we could control the temperature and humidity,” David remarks. “So, a lot of thought went into space and compartmentalization. The drying and curing processes are where you are going to get the best flowers. So, it was exceptionally critical that we got that right. We had to make sure to implement the part of the GMP certified process too. That took us a couple of weeks before we could put flowers in there. There was this build-up process, and it was crucial that we went for overcompensating with HVAC and cooling, all because you can’t leave any variable behind.”

Cannsun grows its cannabis not only in South Africa, but also in  Thailand and expect to start growing in Greece from 2022, for a very specific reason. “We see EU, Asia, and Africa as our main markets,” David says. “We are one of the first movers in these markets, and we have selected very good partners.” By exactly following this first-mover mentality, Cannsun has also recently partnered up with a Japanese company. “We have seen that there is a lot of interest on medical cannabis products in Japan, especially with regards to oncology patients,” David continues. “They are all looking for cannabis-based wellness products. This partnership allows us to open another way for us to generate product development from EU to Japan.”

For more information:
3rd floor Caldis House
57A Long Street Cape Town,
South Africa, 8001

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