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US: "In New York, cannabis farmers close out a risky first season"

Licensed cultivators can currently grow up to an acre of flowering canopy outdoors or 25,000 square feet in a greenhouse. The state awarded 242 such licenses earlier this year. In the four-county Capital Region, there are 18 licensed operators: four in Schenectady and Albany counties, seven in Saratoga County, and three in Rensselaer County. 

Brian Conlon, one of the first licensed cannabis producers in the area, saw firsthand how quickly the crop could go awry. After spending $17,000 of his own money on a set of 20,000 seeds for quick-growing autoflower plants and sprouting them in a converted shipping container on his property, he and Burrill had family over to help get the seedlings into the ground on Memorial Day. But one day later, the temperature climbed above 90 degrees, and all but a few of the delicate shoots were dead. 

"That happens; farms lose," Conlon said, adding that that's why crop insurance exists. But his own batch of plants was not protected. For such a small plot, he hadn't looked it up. "I don't even know if I could have had crop insurance because crop insurance is a federal plan," he said.

In Conlon's case, he swallowed the $17,000 cost of his first lost crop, which he'd self-funded from savings, chalking it up to experience. He and Burrill tried again, this time staying away from the sensitive autoflower plants but still germinating another $6,000 worth of seeds, which they got into the ground on June 16.

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