US (CA): Lighter cannabis harvest expected as growers await price recovery

California’s outdoor cannabis harvest, nicknamed “Croptober,” is in full swing to beat the fall rains and frost. But what’s weighing on the expected tonnage more than the seasonal weather and years-long drought is the economic climate for the fledgling legal industry.

“It looks like every farmer has taken advantage of the opportunity to go fallow,” said Samuel Rodriguez of Good Farmers Great Neighbors, a Central Coast cannabis farming advocacy group whose members also have substantial North Coast acreage.

The scale of those cutbacks in production ranges from 30% to half of the previous levels — to fully not harvesting, Rodriguez said. “It was driven by the shock and awe of 2020–2021, the depression of the price per pound,” he said.

Estimates of pricing for outdoor growers vary, but it ranges from $200 to $500 per pound, Rodriguez said. The average price in Sonoma County’s inaugural report on the legal crop was $570 a pound last year, amounting to $121 million for the 212,548 pounds harvested from nearly 50 acres, all but 3 acres of that in outdoor grows.

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