New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis farm begins harvest


New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis farm’s first harvest is well underway, with thousands of its organic plants already drying.

More than 40 workers are expected to be on site during the peak of Puro’s Kēkerengū harvest, which is being carried out completely by hand.

The 10-hectare crop, north of Kaikōura, was planted in December, and will be dried on site at a purpose built facility.

Puro Kēkerengū site manager Winston Macfarlane said the team was really happy with the growing season.

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“The response we’ve had from potential buyers that have visited our site is amazing, and they’re really happy and surprised how well we’ve done to get to this volume of material under organic practice,” Macfarlane said.

“There’s only a handful of companies worldwide that are growing outdoor, at this scale, in an organic manner.

Puro cultivation technician Max Jablonski uses a microscope attached to his phone camera.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Puro cultivation technician Max Jablonski uses a microscope attached to his phone camera.

“We’ve chosen to go organic, because it’s firstly what we believe in form a health and wellbeing point of view, but also it will set us apart from all of our competitors and demand a higher price point.”

Puro was in the process of getting its organic certification.

Plants were harvested by first picking the dominant top flowers and then picking the remainder of the plant, which would be dried as biomass.

Puro Kēkerengū site manager Winston Macfarlane inside the drying facility where hundreds of plants are drying. Full PPE must be worn inside because it is a medical grade product.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Puro Kēkerengū site manager Winston Macfarlane inside the drying facility where hundreds of plants are drying. Full PPE must be worn inside because it is a medical grade product.

There were six different cultivars planted on site, but even within that the plants had different phenotypes, Macfarlane said.

“So it’s not as simple as planting one cultivar and it all being homogenous,” he said.

“We’re happy with the yield, a lot of people suggest that the plants would be bigger or taller but in all honesty we selected cultivars that were going to be shorter and bushier because of the location and the effects that could happen from wind.”

About 40,000 plants will be harvested and dried on the Kēkerengū site.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF/Marlborough Express

About 40,000 plants will be harvested and dried on the Kēkerengū site.

Puro were trialling three different drying techniques, all on site. This included drying the top flowers through “curtain drying” which had a seven to 10 day drying period, Macfarlane said.

“That’s using air flow and extractors to extract the hot moist air,” he said.

“That system enables us to retain the highest level of cannabinoids. If you speed that drying process up through heating, you will have a loss of cannabinoids and terpenes, but you get more through put.

“We’ve designed a secondary top flower drying system where we can control the humidity, temperature, airflow and dry time, to try and come up with the perfect recipe so that we can speed that drying system up maybe from seven to 10 days, to four or five.”

The plants were very low in THC and did not produce a high like recreational strains.

Before: planting of the product in early December.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Before: planting of the product in early December.

Puro managing director Tim Aldridge said harvest would take about five weeks as various cultivars reached maturity at slightly different times.

Aldridge said the large-scale commercial harvest was a “moment to celebrate”.

“It has been a huge 12 months for Puro, from getting the licences, importing seed, completing facilities and building our team,” he said.

SCOTT HAMMOND/Stuff.co.nz

Medicinal cannabis company Puro is close to completing the planting of 80,000 seedlings at a rural Marlborough site.

Puro had planted cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) cultivars, which were ideal for medicinal use in products like oils and creams. The seedlings were imported from Australia, the Netherlands and America.

The company has received and processed small volume orders within the New Zealand medical cannabis industry. Once products have been dried and tested, Puro will start the compliance processes required for export.

To find out more, people can visit puro.co.nz.



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