“Searching for new cannabis cultivars is what I love the most”

From corporate finance to genetics hunting

“I was in corporate finance from the moment I got out of college,” says Kevin Farmer, founder of CannaFarmer and Farmer’s Select Genetics. “With my previous company, we were working on an IPO listing but then, the company was acquired and I was left out of the job. That’s when I decided to open CannaFarmer in 2015.”

Kevin made this decision because he had always been passionate about cannabis, and after years spent among white collars, he wanted to focus on something that made him truly happy. “When I got into the cannabis industry, I opened an indoor cultivation facility,” he explains. “When supply outpaced demand, I opened a retail location, and that balanced the books which has also allowed me to focus more on what I love the most: searching for new cannabis cultivars.”

Kevin Farmer, founder and owner of CannaFarmer

Hunting for genetics
Kevin continues to recount that over the past 6 years of cultivation in Colorado, he has acquired certain genetics and found others that were used in the initial pollination round to get the seed stock going. “Then, it’s a matter of finding those unique cultivars,” he says. “Last year, I planted 500 seeds, and we found only 3 cultivars out of those that we liked.” Selecting the right cultivars during these rounds is key because genetics need to be good for future crossings.

“Right now, we are looking at different things in the plant,” Kevin remarks. “For instance, we are looking at flower structure, the overall vigor; then, you have to look at the terpene, ester and flavonoid profiles. In addition, you should also consider cannabinoids if you are looking at something else than THC. But for now, we look at flavor profiles, cannabinoid levels, even though we don’t breed specifically for THC as we already get between 15% to 30% levels.”

Looking for more than potency
As Kevin said, however, looking for the best cultivars is not necessarily a matter of finding the most potent one. “We also have to look for those cultivars that won’t be a ‘pain for the growers to handle’,” he says. “So, for instance, we are also looking at resistance to certain pests and pathogens such as botrytis and powdery mildew. But you also have to ask yourself: how easy is it to prune? And how easy is it to process? Then, what about hash making? For that cultivar, is it better to be machine-trimmed or hand-trimmed? Bluntly put, it is crucial to consider everything that goes into the cost structure of running a business.”

Benefits of working with testing labs
To speed up the breeding process, Kevin is very happy to work together with testing labs. “It is true that they can be pretty costly upfront,” he says. “But then, you have to consider that without them, we’d have to assess plants ourselves, without all the equipment of a lab. This is not an impossible task, but it takes an enormous amount of time: thanks to labs, we can immediately identify male and female plants, as well as the various resistances we look for.”

After years spent looking for those F-1 genetics, CannaFarmer is ready to hit the market with its own cultivars in 2022. “My goal is to tell my story, and to offer consumers a unique experience,” he says. “I am a craft pollen chucker, and I am looking forward to the journey with a plant I love.”

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