Despite all that Mother Nature could throw at cannabis farmers this year, growers overcame the elements enough to place a substantial amount of tax revenue in state government coffers.
Sam Rodriquez, an advisory member who represents seven Northern California counties in the International Cannabis Farmers Association, summarized the 2020 harvest as an “early save.” He estimated about 80% of the crops were saved, but that statistic “varies by county.” Rodriquez monitors growers in Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Lake, Nevada, Trinity and Santa Barbara counties.
“Many farmers accelerated their harvest,” he said, adding most crops were brought in earlier around the first part of October because of the fires.
As it turns out, the decision helped boost California cultivation tax collections to $41 million this fall in a period ending Nov. 2. That’s triple the amount from two years ago in the same period, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration reported recently.
At the peak of the blazes, smoke blanketed the region, making the air in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area take on a Mars-like orange hue. Ash dusted and smoke surrounded the cannabis crops, with some growers increasing the amount of water use to clean them off.
“This was a significant concern about the crops being tainted with ashes and smoke,” he said, adding the anxiety was elevated by the mere frequency of these fires. “There was a lot of fear, but people reacted much faster.”
Like mad chemists, Northern California growers reacted with precise science and upgraded protocols to protect their crops through the use of better nutrients, irrigation, breeding, seeding and all-around care. These are the trends of the future in delivering premium cannabis products, noted Rodriquez, who also serves on the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce and the Good Farmers, Great Neighbors trade association.