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(Editor’s observe: This story is a part of a recurring collection of commentaries from professionals related to the cannabis trade. Sean Sangster is the undertaking supervisor of horticultural providers for Austin, Texas-based Fluence.)
Consider the common cannabis buying expertise previously eight years.
Legal choices have been restricted, unlawful choices have been unpredictable.
Customers who might buy product legally made selections primarily based on THC proportion, odor and aesthetic in addition to whether or not a pressure was sativa, indica or a hybrid.
The nomenclature of the toddler cannabis market of a decade in the past has largely continued into 2020, even within the extra mature states like Colorado and California.
Today, shoppers are nonetheless introduced with THC proportion, however CBD and different lively compounds have gotten extra of a consider a purchase order.
Customers nonetheless take into account how a product smells and appears, however they’re starting to grasp the position terpenes, flavonoids and different lively compounds play in these issues – and, finally, in consumption and expertise.
And whereas many point-of-sale advertising methods nonetheless classify strains as indica or sativa, shoppers are studying that the cannabis plant is just too advanced to be judged by such a easy designation.
Customer expectations of expertise – each in how they buy and devour cannabis – are evolving, turning into extra nuanced and cerebral, a pattern many trade specialists are figuring out and embracing with rising frequency.
Companies are deploying machine studying to personalize the buying expertise for patrons whereas offering companies the instruments and insights to make cultivation selections primarily based on demand forecasting relatively than historic traits.
The mandate for cultivators is obvious: Refine operational practices and cultivation strategies to create merchandise that can meet evolving expectations which can be transferred from finish customers to dispensaries to cultivators and their distributors.
It’s an added duty, but it surely’s additionally a large market alternative to quicken the tempo of the trade’s maturation and educate prospects concerning the finer factors of cannabis.
Nothing will drive innovation and progress in an trade greater than prospects who need one thing they’re not getting.
There are three core commitments that cultivators, their companions and your entire trade should make to satisfy such a mandate:
1. Commit to analysis
Customer demand for extra intricacy within the buying expertise underscores simply how far behind the trade is in understanding the huge complexity of the cannabis plant.
Research partnerships are popping up throughout the nation to deal with the admittedly giant job of learning the cultivation, efficacy and results of cannabis.
It’s a frightening however vital endeavor to actually improve the trade’s potential to grasp, constantly domesticate and finally market its merchandise primarily based on particular market demand.
The creation of lively compounds – terpenes, carotenoids, flavonoids and lots of others – are depending on important components reminiscent of mild spectra, depth and genetics.
Individual cultivars equally reply otherwise and uniquely to specific mild methods.
The solely option to really maximize plant expression – and to speak and market these subtleties to finish customers – is to review how lively compounds and particular cultivars react to numerous controlled-environment situations.
Though THC and CBD are the 2 most prevalent cannabinoids, they and the handfuls of others – to not point out a whole lot of different lively compounds – maintain a lot potential for groundbreaking genetic and horticultural analysis on which the trade can capitalize.
Research will drive market consensus and innovation, finally influencing academic campaigns, advertising methods and point-of-sale customer engagements.
2. Commit to standardizing strains and cultivation strategies
Many plant specialists from conventional agriculture have diversified and moved into the cannabis trade, myself included.
There are many finest practices and strategies from meals cultivation that can be utilized to cannabis, however a strategy that stands out to me is the dearth of a universally agreed-upon handbook of cannabis strains.
We have been rising tomatoes for hundreds of years. The tomato plant’s storied evolution offers us the varieties you see in your native retailer at this time.
Cannabis is on the forefront of an identical journey. While variances in state laws undoubtedly current challenges, they shouldn’t deter the shift towards industrywide consensus on pressure classifications and standardized cultivation strategies.
For the person customer at any given time limit, the dearth of pressure standardization isn’t essentially monumental.
But over time, the dearth of consistency in how cannabis strains are categorized, cultivated and subsequently marketed inhibits the trade’s potential to carry clever, fashionable conversations with prospects.
Marketwide standardization – in pressure classification in addition to cultivation operations – is a important threshold to cross in tandem with ongoing analysis to achieve industrywide maturity.
Because strains reply otherwise to numerous lighting methods, probably the most insightful analysis findings on this planet are null and void if we can’t agree collectively on how we classify them.
3. Commit to advancing know-how
The hallmark of any nice product and firm is consistency.
While managed environments are by definition much less unstable than out of doors agriculture, they can nonetheless be liable to crop illness, pests and variable situations in key cultivation components reminiscent of latitude and longitude, leaf floor temperature, ambient temperature, humidity, lighting, nutrient options and easy human error.
Creating a constantly high-quality product year-round that prospects can repeatedly return to is the trade’s gold normal.
The cultivators that can implement the fitting know-how to regulate these situations on the micro degree and construct a collection of merchandise on which dispensaries can rely turns into the perfect worth proposition that can be marketed to the top person. This requires a degree of element throughout each section of cannabis cultivation operations that lacks standardization.
Cultivators are hungry for mild methods, finest practices in facility design and analysis that can information day by day operations.
As the trade turns its focus to refining and perfecting these enterprise practices, it’s equally essential that they’ve the fitting know-how at their fingertips – reminiscent of lighting methods with extra depth and diversified spectra, environment friendly HVAC and dehumidification setups, extraction and testing methods – to ship the constant, high quality merchandise prospects are starting to count on.
As cannabis cultivators scale and their client base grows smarter, head growers ought to be difficult their groups to suppose otherwise about easy methods to develop extra specialised, nuanced vegetation.
Adjustments in mild spectra, for instance, have been confirmed to attract out sure terpene profiles in cannabis vegetation.
Similarly, adjusting pot sizes and introducing drought stress strategies to your develop have additionally yielded larger terpene or cannabinoid ranges.
By committing to in-depth analysis, industrywide standardization and the implementation of cutting-edge horticulture know-how, cultivators will function the catalysts for trade maturation and innovation, finally shaping how shoppers expertise cannabis now and into the longer term.
Sean Sangster is a undertaking supervisor on the horticultural providers crew at Fluence. He has spent the previous decade serving to cultivators optimize their farms and develop amenities for optimum manufacturing and high quality. He can be reached at [email protected].
The earlier installment of this collection is accessible right here.
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