"We noticed that assumptions were being made about our cannabis solely based on the fact that we grow outdoors. Therefore, we wanted to be an active participant in the discussion of different cultivation disciplines," says Will Bowden, CEO of Grasshopper Farms. The Michigan-based cannabis company has embarked on a study to compare the effects of indoor versus outdoor production on the same genetics. "We are not doing this with the goal of concluding that one of the two is superior. We simply want to study the effects and start a conversation."
"It doesn't mean lower quality"
Grasshopper Farms produces premium cannabis flower outdoors. "Outdoor cultivation for premium flower is something that people are still exploring," Will says. "We wanted to jump into that space and set the example that it can be done. Outdoor cultivation does not mean lower quality, and a major benefit is that it is great for the environment."
Will explains that in other industries, there is a multitude of disciplines. He thinks the same will be the case for cannabis. "There will be very good reasons for growing indoors, good reasons for growing in a greenhouse, and good reasons for growing outdoors." Currently, indoor production is well-established in the cannabis industry because of the previous illegality of the product. "For generations, inside production was the only option because of secrecy, and that's what growers got really good at. As legality and acceptance become more widespread, I think we're going to see all three growing disciplines becoming very important, with all having their own benefits. For example, different strains are going to thrive differently in the various environments. Therefore, from a supply perspective, I think it will be very important that all three disciplines will be exercised."
When Grasshopper Farms started their outdoor production of premium cannabis, they noticed that certain assumptions were being made. "When we first came to market, it was: 'you're an outdoor grower, so we will pay this for your product.' Without even knowing anything about our quality, cannabinoid profiles, looks, and smells, outdoor cultivation had an association with being lower quality than indoor-grown cannabis. Therefore, we want to ask people to consider the actual product. It's not about where you produce it. It's what you produce that matters."
In order to start this discussion among people, the company has started a comparison study. Will explains that they take identical genetics, planting them outside as well as inside. "Both are grown on the same property, managed by the same team, over the same period of time. An independent laboratory will evaluate the flower for cannabinoids, THC, and terpenes, among other factors. We will look at the lab reports and compare what the flower looks and smells like. We are not doing this to prove that one method is better than the other. Instead, we want to start a conversation."
In general, sharing knowledge is something that Grasshopper Farms does not shy away from. "Transparency is very important to us. In this industry, not everybody wants to share how they do things, as others might copy their secret to success," Will mentions. "While there are very good cultivation techniques out there, I don't believe many of them are truly proprietary. Anybody who puts in the work and does their research can learn what they want to do and become better with experience. Therefore, we offer farm tours and open houses at our location. We want to show people what cannabis truly is and what it is not, shedding a positive light on the industry."
While cultivation techniques can be learned, Will mentions that the Grasshopper Farms team is what truly gives the company their competitive edge. "We have an amazing team, providing a lot of individual expertise and overlapping experience. Whatever the task is, I know they will get the job done. Everyone is very skilled and well organized, and the team feels like a family."
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