As we explained last week in our Croptober Explainer, we are now in the heart of cannabis harvest season. 

And while the bulk of the harvest is still in post-production, we are starting to get a peek at the earliest representations of farmers’ work in 2021. Apart from the prices they’re getting for their effort compared to years past, things look pretty good. 

One of the first individuals to get to look at all the flowers heading south is Joey Sullivan. In addition to being the Director of Procurement for Mercy Wellness in Santa Rosa, the last population center before you hit the redwoods, Sullivan also helps coordinate the flower judging effort at the Emerald Cup. Few people see as much cannabis grown at every scale and quality as Sullivan. 

He was enthusiastic about how the harvest is looking so far. 

“Honestly, right now, it’s probably been the most promising I’ve seen it in a couple of years,” Sullivan told L.A. Weekly. “One of the main reasons is due to the fires. We haven’t had a lot of damage on this October harvest run like we had the last couple of years.”

Sullivan argues it’s easy to see the results in the structure of the flower.

“You’re not really smelling a lot of that oaky mesquite that you were getting on a lot of that sun-grown,” Sullivan said. “I’ve been stoked on it. One of the biggest things for me is just seeing people getting their yields back up.”

As for what he’s seeing so far? A lot of exotics this year by his standard. But that being said, all expectations about a lot of dessert weed like cakes, gelatos, and sherbets being flooded in the marketplace have proven correct so far. 

We asked Sullivan if he felt like the weather this year would make it easier for Northern California farmers to be competitive in the cup coming off another SoCal cup win. That win was similar to the last time it happened following the Mendocino Complex Fire a few years back. And just to emphasize, that sentence isn’t meant to take away from Josh D and Local Cannabis Company’s deserved victories those years. But as for Sullivan’s faith this year’s crop is the comeback?

“Absolutely. One of the things that always kind of sticks out is Southern Humboldt. They kind of come really strong but last year with COVID, everything kind of got pushed back,” Sullivan said. 

While the harvests were a little off during the pandemic as far as competition grade cannabis is concerned, this year he is anticipating hundreds of fantastic entries from across California. 

“It should make for a much better competition, much stronger showing across the board this time,” Sullivan said. 

Sullivan also elaborated on how we define quality in the wider marketplace given the regulatory environment. A vertically integrated company like Mercy Wellness or one of the many others that incorporated prior to summer 2016, has a lot fewer bottlenecks between the farm and store shelf. Even then, there are some unavoidable delays associated with testing and packaging. 

Those hurdles are only amplified for companies that aren’t vertically integrated at each step in the supply chain. Eventually, the pot that reaches the consumer probably isn’t the best representation of what it could be.

We asked Sullivan if it was ever difficult to pull the trigger in his role of purchasing for Mercy Wellness with the deals getting crazier and crazier. He argued their long-term relationships with small farmers help provide a bit more stability to everyone involved. But those moments when he allocates resources for something and then another deal floats across his desk can be tough. 

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