Because the legal cannabis industry is a relatively new industry, cooperation between growers has been limited. More than any other industry, this has been ingrained into cannabis culture, because the more one talked about their grow in the past, the more likely one was going to be discovered by law enforcement. However, today our grows are licensed and regulated. We no longer have to fear being discovered and having our plants destroyed (for the most part, anyway). This gives us the opportunity to share information and skills with our fellow growers as well as collectively troubleshoot issues we used to face alone.
I have worked in the ornamental horticulture industry for most of my adult life. Early on, most commercial growers only grew one variety of plants from stock. Retail stores had to buy from a multitude of different growers in order to have a sufficient variety of plants to sell. Over time that model shifted, so that independent propagators provide cultivars to industrial growers, who grow a wide variety of plants. Retail stores in turn, only need to go to an individual grower.
Why You Should Have Someone Propagate for You
All growers have different areas of expertise; it’s extremely rare when one grower can do everything really well. Trying to be a retailer, edible producer, extractor, wholesaler, flower producer, trimmer, packager, marketer and propagator all at the same time is a daunting task, one that only the most talented business managers can pull off.
As growers we are accustomed to doing everything in-house, on our own. We build our own facilities, run with our own electricity, build our own plumbing, etc. However, in a legal grow setting, we have the opportunity to hire contractors, electricians, irrigation specialists and more. By breaking down what we do best and letting others do for us what they do best, we open up more time and energy to focus on what we want to do
Currently, many growers with limited space or few employees grow and maintain stock plants that require their own specialized feeding regime, taking cuttings that also require their own special environment and care. If you contract this job out to a trusted grower specializing in propagation, you could save yourself time, money, and space.
Building a Relationship with a Propagator
Growers that wish to build a good relationship with a propagator must work closely with the propagator to communicate their wants and needs. Give the propagator enough time and information to do the job you want them to do. What specs do the young plants need to meet? How tall do you want them? What nutrients do they need? Time to flower? Lay out your perfect scenario, so that the propagator can understand what you want and by what date, in addition to figuring out if your requests are possible to achieve in the timeframe you have requested.
Do your research on the propagator too. Get to know them, tour their facility, see the plants they produce. Figure out the logistics of getting the young plants from their facility to yours. Understand that you and your propagator are now in a two-way relationship. If you have special genetics or phenotypes, contractual obligations can be written to protect your genetics and provide a steady supply of plants.
The relationship also benefits the propagators. Propagators have significant upfront costs such as, maintaining stock plants, maintaining specialized facilities, domes and environmental controls, liner trays, sterile soil, and more. Growers should always pay propagators a 10% deposit before cuttings are planted. This keeps everyone invested in a positive outcome, while still giving both the propagator and grower room if they need to bail on the agreement.
Foster Cooperation in the Industry
Propagators or young plant brokers should have friendly relationships with each other. Everybody experiences crop failure from time to time, and opportunistic behavior can have negative consequences on the industry. Don’t try to steal your competitor’s customer. Help them out with a reasonable rate. Besides, if your competitor keeps disappointing their client, they will probably be looking for a new grower anyway. But you also never know when you amy need a favor yourself. If you’ve established yourself as a force for good in the industry, people may come rushing out of the woodwork to help.
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About the Author
Jim Tidrick is an avid, lifelong grower of plants of all types, greenhouse nursery owner, and forever inquisitive about better techniques to better ends.