Harvest season is also buzzword season, and it’s right around the corner.
Many people inquired with us in the last couple of months about the definition of small batch cannabis. In the nicest way possible, it’s a bit loose. So we reached out to a bunch of the biggest names in California cannabis from various operations of size and scale to get their definition to the question, ‘How do you define small batch cannabis?’
Here are their answers:
Ellen Holland – editor and chief High Times Magazine
One of the things I love about working in cannabis journalism is the continual evolution of words the community invents and adopts. The term “small batch” sets off my marketing trigger radar. It’s a buzzword that’s jumped to weed following its success with whiskey, and doesn’t really mean anything. While I’m fully on board with marketing outdoor herb as sungrown (a rift off of Sunkist oranges), I don’t remember using the phrase “small batch” in my own writing. I’d define it as flowers with limited production runs. In other words, the hype strains that aren’t always available. The ones you wait for in a “drop.”
Keith Healy – Fig Farms
My idea of what small batch is has changed over the last few years. In 2017, we won our first High Times cup with a single plant. It literally cannot be smaller than that. Two days ago, I was at a 300k-square-foot indoor facility. By dividing a larger facility in to small rooms that are cared for by a small team, I think small batch flower can still be achieved. My sweet spot is a 20-lb. batch cured and cared for by a few people that have cared for the batch from clone to harvest. Small batch is the decision to put quality over everything else, even if that means quality over profits.
Erin Hamilton – Royal Key Organics
It seems like people use it relative to their operations. I’ve seen large outdoor growers split the same batch of 6000-7000 grams into two-three batches with different names on each one, to create a “small batch” perception, and I’ve seen people using it with 100s of lights because they maybe feel “small” comparatively. True small batch is when you’re barely able to survive because your production doesn’t cover your overhead. I’m kidding, but not. Anyone with less than 5,000 square feet of cultivation in the legal market could claim that, in my opinion. Unless they are running 5,000 square feet of the same cultivar. Five thousand square feet of Gelato is not small batch.
Josh Schmidt – VP of Business Development Natura/Founder of Dee Thai Gummy
Small batch to me is when a small amount of plants are selected and grown with focus and purpose. When growing cannabis on a large scale, there are more variables that can lead to a decrease in quality, whereas in a small footprint, we can easily maintain and fix issues collectively instead of guessing which plants are the culprit. To me, small batch always almost equals higher quality. The more we handle the cannabis plant from harvest to trimming also affects the quality.
Kenji Fujishima – Dr. Greenthumbs
I think that is something that is entirely dependent on the level of the cultivation and/ or cultivator. If your in a home-grow, that might be a 4-12 lighter that is in your garage. Something that is maintained and taken care of with love. For larger scale and again depending on size and level, a small batch might be 10-20 lights or more of something. With legal market, a “batch” test “COA” is 0-50 lbs., so, with that said, growers might want to cultivate more towards that 50 lb. mark as a “batch” to maximize the value of the testing fees, but, I think that being able to sell through would also be something to consider in batch size per the “brand.”
Taylor Blake – The Emerald Cup
A Small Batch product should be the closest thing you’re going to get to homemade on the market. It indicates that you are purchasing something high quality because the process to create it is capped, which allows it to uphold a higher value.
Sergio Picazo – Compound Genetics
From a cultivation perspective small batch is derived from a consistent crop. The correlation between small and the total number of plants on a table can be brought back to environmental control. If you don’t have proper cooling, dehumidification and individual irrigation zones per cultivar, you will struggle to meet consistent quality, compared to a smaller confined area. Improper airflow and heat stratification tend to be challenges with larger rooms, due to a deficient design. Water balance in the environment is absolutely crucial, which leads to proper transpiration rates in any size room. In today’s market, most buyers are asking for a variety, which leads to cultivator’s needing to run individual irrigation zones per table, so they can offer multiple flavors.
Jason Gellman – Ridgeline Farms
Small batch or craft cannabis is directly related to the individual care that is provided to a crop! At ridgeline farms, our decades of experience passed down from our parents has provided us with the understanding that plants and people alike, just need TLC. There’s no replacing the individual attention that we give our plants here at Ridgeline Farms; you can taste and feel the difference.
Ben Brown – IC Collective
I think of cannabis flower and products that have been well-planned, cared for to the highest level by the people who made the plan. For me, cannabis is the medium I have to create. I am thinking about craft, art, form and function throughout the entire process. To define “small” size of the batch, it is determined by my ability to harness and control the parameters of the plan.
Addison DeMoura – 800 Pound Mantra
Small batch means focus to detail. The smaller the batches, the more you are able to focus your skills on extracting and separating what is in front of you. Sometimes small batch means you’re the grower and you’re going to be the processor. A lot of the time the small batch will come out higher quality because you’re able to direct more of your focus on the process; as in a large batch, you’re unable to direct [the plants] focus. You can take the same material and run it in a large batch and then run it in a small batch, and 99% of the time, small batch will come out higher quality because you are able to direct your focus.
Serge Cannabis – Fiore
From my perspective, when I think of small batch, I think of home/garage grows typically 8-10 lighters. A small batch grow should be worked by a single person or two people at most. Usually, the one or two people that take care of the spot spend a lot of time in the grow room and give their attention to each and every plant. They also usually have cultural practices that might be more time-consuming and labor intensive but have a greater quality product to show at the end. Working in smaller rooms also gives you more control over your grow room if equipped properly – I believe that plays a big role, as well, in why small batch > commercial grows.
I think the definition of small batch cannabis is like art, its definition and beauty are in the eye of the beholder. I think that almost any home-grow still active in the current market climate should automatically be defined as small batch. Commercial operations that focus on having smaller rooms (under 50 lights per room for example) and grown ethically with care for each plant as much as humanly possible could also qualify if the quality translates. All of the above pertains to grow size, but let’s talk about what the plants are being fed nowadays. The main reason why “small batch” is even a thing today is that there is such a clear difference in quality between small batch and most, but not all, commercial cannabis. The progression of commercial growing has brought new ways of cutting costs by using completely synthetic fertilizers in place of quality input that is way more expensive to run and is partly or solely organic. These old-world practices are, for the most part, obsolete at scale. Most large operators are happy to cut their costs, and it can also be risky to run anything organic through drip lines, as they could clog and cost the facility an untold fortune if not maintained properly. To put what I’m saying into perspective, I’d rather smoke flower from someone’s 1000 lighter that has been fed with quality nutrients than smoke someone’s “small batch” that’s been fed salts and run sterile from start to finish.
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