Beak & Skiff

US (NY): A grower’s journey from apples to hemp to cannabis

A 110-year-old family-run company has been on a journey to explore new opportunities. For the past century, Beak & Skiff has been known for their 1000-acre apple orchard in Upstate New York. “Over the years, we evolved into a premium beverage maker, producing fresh ciders, wines, kombucha, and more. When we saw the rise of the CBD beverage market, we became very interested in seeing how we could incorporate that into our business,” says Mack Hueber, CFO of Beak & Skiff. After growing hemp for a couple of years, the company has just completed their first cannabis harvest as one of the first 200 licensed growers in the state of New York.

Apple picking at the apple orchard

Transitioning from hemp to cannabis
With three years of hemp cultivation experience, the Beak & Skiff families have now started their adult-use cannabis production under a new company called Gen V. “We grow outdoors and grow the crop specifically for extraction. Everything we produce is according to the organic techniques we used for our hemp, which helps us to differentiate in a crowded market.” Yet growing in a new market does come with its challenges. “The first challenge when getting into cannabis was finding the right genetics, as there is no data yet on what grows well in our climate. For our first cycle, we grew at least 15 different strains in order to figure out what would work best. We maximized the 1 acre allowed by New York by combining autoflowers and full-term flowers.”

The new cannabis production

Luckily, the weather has been on their side during the first production cycle. “We have had a lot of rain these past two summers, but this year was a dry summer, fortunately. That meant we had a lot more control over the feeding by using our own irrigation ponds,” says Mack.

The New York market
While Beak & Skiff has their first harvest ready, there are not yet any New York dispensaries opened. “That is one of the big challenges of this new market; New York is building the plane as they fly it. While the processors got licensed, there were still no dispensaries open for the flower to go to. Luckily, we grow for extraction, so our oils can be stored for longer than flowers can. But for other producers, this uncertainty of when their product can be sold is a major challenge.”

Moreover, Mack explains that growers are concerned about the very strict microbial limits. “So far, no flower has been tested within the allowed limits of an inhalable product. Therefore, the big question is whether some New York farmers will even be allowed to sell their products. Again, we are lucky that this is less of a concern with extraction, but it is definitely a major concern for growers of smokeable flower.”  

Since we spoke to Mack, New York has loosened its cannabis testing requirements. Click here for more information.

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Beak & Skiff

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