Michael Harapiak, Greenman Acres:

“Having our own cannabis testing device saves us a lot of lab testing money”

“If we’re exploring twenty different cultivars to see which ones we would like to grow, sending them all off to a testing lab would be very expensive. The GemmaCert device enables us to perform our own potency testing, giving us insights quickly,” says Michael Harapiak of Greenman Acres. The family-run business grows cannabis organically at their outdoor location in Meaford, Ontario, with the majority of its employees being family and friends. The company has just finished their third year of production. “Now, we are trying to decide what cultivars we want to grow next year.”

Instant testing
The GemmaCert device allows users to test their cannabis’ potency and composition, providing immediate results and lab-level accuracy. The Greenman Acres team has been using their GemmaCert for several reasons. “Originally, we purchased it because lab testing costs are expensive. Especially when exploring what cultivars we would like to grow in the future, it has been a great asset for us to do our own testing. The market is really driven towards high THC, and it has to be over 20% for it to be viable in the market. So if we’re trying twenty different plants, it would be very expensive to send them all out for $500 lab tests. Now, we can do this ourselves. When our test plants just come off the fields, we can immediately get a sense of where they are in terms of THC and CBD levels,” Michael says.


Michael explains that getting such quick answers is especially helpful for outdoor growers. “We have everything riding on our harvest. This is different from indoor growers, who are flipping rooms every 8-10 weeks and can adjust courses quickly. We, on the other hand, are putting 8,000 plants in the field and have to wait until the fall to see what happens.”

Brother-in-law Luke getting ready to trim the grass 

This year, Michael was testing out the GemmaCert device to see if it could also help them determine when the plant is ready for harvest. “In early September, we were taking samples of the plants that seemed well developed. After speed-drying the samples, we ran them through the GemmaCert, and it showed us some interesting results. We were looking at the CBG levels with the idea that CBG would potentially be converted to THC or CBD as the plant matured. We did see a correlation between early stages and higher CBG levels. That also gave us an indicator of where a plant may end up, what its potential might be when harvested at the right time.”

A beneficial micro-climate
Greenman Acres is located on the Niagara Escarpment, a great location for their cannabis cultivation, according to Michael. “We’re up a particular valley which gets about 2-3 degrees warmer than the surrounding areas. As a result, we generally get about two extra frost-free weeks in the fall, which is very important when we’re trying to finish some plants. This allows us to miss the worst of the frost that the people ten kilometers from here will get.”

At their 13 acres of outdoor cultivation, the company grows organically. “By using organic agriculture practices, our outdoor craft cannabis is grown free of chemicals and toxins and is full of natural flavor. We use only 100% organic inputs, so no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers. Moreover, we irrigate using a spring-fed pond. We’re built up on a hill, so the runoff from the water feeds back into the pond, which we can then use. It is challenging in the cannabis industry, but we are trying to implement such practices to be as sustainable as possible.”

The harvest crew

When it comes to the Canadian cannabis market, it is certainly a challenging one, Michael explains. “At the moment, the biggest issue is the high taxes. The government set the excise tax at over $1 per gram, based on a theoretical $10 per gram sales price. However, at the moment, the sales price is around $5. That means that effectively 20% of the wholesale cost is directly going to the government. As a result, the margins for growers are pretty tight, and it is difficult to make money.”

Master grower Roy in the greenhouse

Still, Greenman Acres remains positive. “When it comes to the future, our goal is to increase our production,” Michael says. “We’re fairly confident that we can ride out this turbulent beginning to the Canadian cannabis industry, and hope that the industry will improve in the upcoming years.”

For more information:
Greenman Acres


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