Medicine Box Monday: Cultivating Cannabis in Unpredictable Weather
While our founder was on the east coast in January, networking with groups like Medicinal Genomics, he witnessed the “Bomb Cyclone”. With temperatures below zero, winds that cut through the body, and ice covering the streets it was a good time to stay inside! We were experiencing quite the opposite in the Sierra Nevada mountains; more and kayaking and hiking than skiing and bundling up by the fire. With climate and weather patterns being unpredictable and inconsistent from year to year, we need to consider how the natural cycles affect our growing seasons. Cultivating cannabis requires a level of predictability to produce consistent results, so let’s talk about the weather!
Snowfall, Fires, and Rainfall
Although Northern California had one of the biggest winters in decades in 2017, (with a snowpack that lasted year-round), it will take at least three years for that water to percolate into the water table. Although the current warm weather is nice, we must remember the previous drought (2013-2016), and the threat of fires that increased as the drought continued. We were directly in the mix of some of the largest fires in California state history. (The Thomas Fire in Southern California, and the Northern California Firestorms in Napa, Sonoma, and Trinity.) This was a huge hit to cannabis cultivators statewide, with many small farmers losing their entire crop.
Cannabis cultivation relies heavily on water usage. Each plant uses anywhere from 1.5 gallons to 3 gallons a day. When you multiply that by the number of plants being watered, up to 300-500 gallons of water are used daily on a typical cannabis farm. Each farm has an impact on the overall ecosystem and surrounding watershed. (In our region it is the Yuba River Watershed.) As we are in another year of low precipitation, we must apply sustainable and mindful techniques to our water use.
As we mindfully cultivate and innovate, we practice the principles of permaculture: that we work with nature, not against it. The whole system is greater than the sum of its parts and creates synergistic relationships around us. Our cultivation crew is starting to prepare for an early nursery as we get closer to this month’s new moon. We invite Mother Nature to grace us with more precipitation in the High Sierras and Sierra Foothills as we look to a long-term sustainable future.