Article by Dale Carruthers, London Free Press
Workers won’t begin planting nearly 20,000 marijuana plants outside WeedMD’s Strathroy greenhouse until early next month, but preparations already are underway for the company’s second outdoor cannabis crop.
WeedMD, a London-headquartered firm – with operations in Strathroy, Aylmer and Bowmanville, east of Oshawa – was one of the first pot producers to grow cannabis outside last year after the government lifted its ban on outdoor cultivation.
Now, head of cultivation Curtis Wallace is taking the lessons learned last year to ensure this season’s crop is the best.Only seven strains of cannabis are being planted on the 11-hectare farm – formerly an organic asparagus farm – down from 38 varieties last year, Wallace said.
“We found that some strains will perform in certain environments better than others . . . Some performed great indoors in a greenhouse, but then we had them outside and they didn’t do nearly as well,” he said.
What were the biggest lessons you learned from last year’s growing process?
Learning the field and the climate and the strains, that’s been the biggest takeaway. What I am very confident about is how we performed under health-care regulations, working under all these guidelines and doing it and being a pioneer in the licensed-producer industry, being one of only a handful of companies to do it.
What is some of the work you do have to do to get the field ready for planting in early June?
We’ve been planning this since last year. The main work we do is preparing the mother plants, which we (started) preparing four or five months ago. Making sure we have all the supplies we need and then we have to get all the materials on site, preparing the lots. The farmer is out there right now . . . plowing the field. We have to get all of our irrigation ready. A lot of the infrastructure is already in place. We were playing a lot of catch-up last year with the underground irrigation lines, with security, but this year we don’t have to do that, which is nice.