Harvest Underway at East Coast’s First Legal Outdoor Cannabis Farm

The east coast’s first outdoor commercial cannabis crop is being harvested in Cambridge, Maryland.

Maryland-based medical cannabis provider Culta is harvesting cannabis from its one-acre “experiment” grown in a part of the country that doesn’t provide ideal conditions for an outdoor grow. Mackie Barch, owner of Culta, said that the harvest is a race against the clock as the weather begins to change on the east coast.

“So, we got rain, humidity, big winds that come across, storms so all that can make powdery mildew or rot, which degrades or loses the product, so you know, you can grow all this, but until you get it actually in and processed, you could lose it all,” said David Myrowitz, outdoor operations manager at Culta.

Culta won’t be selling the crop as whole flower, but will use the cannabis for concentrates, tinctures and vape cartridges. If all goes well and the company makes a profit, Culta can corner the market for “sun-grown” cannabis on the east coast. Many municipalities in Maryland have banned outdoor cultivation due to odor concerns. Maryland allows for indoor grow operations and even increased the amount of licensed medical cannabis growers last year.

“No diss against indoor, but outdoor is a totally different product,” said Michael Wheeler, a vice president at the California cannabis company Flow Kana, said. “If you’ve ever experienced the satisfaction of a ripe, sun-grown tomato from a farmers market, then you can appreciate the difference between outdoor grown cannabis and indoor.”

The crop is grown on a site contaminated by the 1989 Cambridge Butter Fire and Culta had to remove four inches of unusable soil. The company’s experiment involves “pheno-hunting” to see which plants grow well in the climate. They estimate 90 percent of the variants planted won’t be used again because they aren’t hardy enough to handle the conditions. The other 10 percent will be cloned and planted again in the next experiment.

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