The Oakland garden is now ripe and is being harvested. As expected, the buds were ripe on Nov. 1. However, there was a delay in preparing for it, and the crew is playing catch-up.
Every cultivator eventually learns that plants don’t wait. No matter what your intentions, plants develop somewhat mechanistically; input determines outcome, including timing.
The buds’ ripening is a case in point. The light extension regime, interrupting the dark cycle by passing high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps through the field several times a night, ended on Sept. 1. By that time, there was a long enough dark period each night to switch the plants to flowering from vegetative growth. At that point, it was time to start preparing space to accommodate the plants that would be harvested. However, steps were taken only close to ripening and have delayed harvest. The buds ripened on Nov. 1, 60 days later, as expected. However, it was only a week after that the first drying lines were set up. Then harvest began.
On Nov. 19, about 40 percent of the field had been harvested. We have been lucky as other parts of California suffered through fires, but our farm has not been affected. Through October and early November, California days featured clear bright sunshine with highs in the 70s and UV light ratings as high as five. These are the steps in the harvest process:
- 1. The plants were trellised using netting. It started with one layer of netting, which the plant branches were woven into. Then, when the plants grew larger and had more branches, netting was wrapped over each side, so that there were three nets holding the plants in place. The outer nets had to be removed in order to clip the plants. At first, crew members cut it using small clippers. Later an electric mini hedge-trimmer was used to cut and remove the netting.
- 2. Using a limb cutter at first, then later a small chainsaw, the plants were cut down and placed on small garden wagons.
- 3. The wagons were pulled to the processing area.
- 4. In the processing area, the plants were dipped in one percent hydrogen peroxide solution and then hung on racks to dry outdoors. This prevents them from molding as they dry out.
- 5. The plants were cut into top and bottom sections and hung to dry.
- 6. The space was outfitted with a room dryer to keep the space warm enough for the plants to dry quickly. Fans were placed all around the drying area to support air circulation.
- 7. The plants dried in about a week and were placed in a separate area to cure at 55 percent humidity for another two weeks.
- 8. After the plants dry, they will be sorted into “A” buds, smalls and concentrate material.