For cannabis growers who plant outdoors, turning leaves signify the fall harvest. During the month of October, colloquially known as Croptober, cultivators throughout Colorado cut down their cannabis fields, the first step in the plants’ journey to reach consumers at dispensaries.
Growing outside is reminiscent of the days before cannabis was legal when producers raised their crop in hidden fields rather than in today’s high-tech indoor operations, which come with expensive lighting apparatuses, air monitoring equipment, and soil treatment.
But it isn’t easy. Growers contend with unpredictable weather, pests, and natural disasters, like wildfires. They also face a long-rooted stigma that sun-grown cannabis is inferior to the flower grown indoors. Still, those who grow outside, including greenhouses, point to plenty of benefits. Lower startup and operational costs allow them to increase their profit margins while their operations have a lesser impact on the environment.
From growers’ perspectives, 2022 is a good year to be out in the sunshine. “This year and last year, weather-wise, were ideal,” said Anthony Romero, director of operations at Pueblo West’s Stratos, which completed its harvest last week with almost 1,000 plants. “We’ve been able to wait for everything to finish and take it down at our pace instead of having to hurry against that snow or the cold.”
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