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It’s that time of year – when the first round of light deprivation grown pot starts hitting shelves. As we start our Dep Report 2021 this week with its inaugural installment, we’re traveling north to Humboldt County.

We’ll visit many of the state’s premier cannabis cultivating regions in the weeks to come, but felt it was only proper to start our adventure in the heart of the Emerald Triangle just north of the Mendocino County line in Whitehorn at Joe’s Pot Shop.

There, Joe Jacovini curates an elite menu at one of SoHum’s favorite dispensaries. Many of the wares are some of the best light deprivation grown pot anywhere in the state, and he’s growing a lot of them himself at Vesuvio Gardens. Also adding to the Italian theme, the Philly transplant opened a pizza shop next to the dispensary.

The first thing Jacovini mentioned? The impact the great weather had on the first run of deps this year. He noted many people ended up getting in the ground early, but he was able to resist the urge.

“The weather was really good for it. I don’t go early either way, so I don’t speak for most farms,” Jacovini told L.A. Weekly. “I think there was a lot that kind of hit the market possibly a little early, I don’t know. I’m just pulling in my first ones because we don’t really start until May 15.”

Jacovini hasn’t seen a lot through the shop yet as it continues its journey through the supply chain, but the early goings from his friend’s personal stashes look solid. He’s seen great renditions of Baccio Gelato and Cheetah Piss so far. Plus, his own Jet Fuel Gelato that came in a little early is up to his standards. He’s previously produced the best sun-grown version of the strain we’ve seen to this day.

Jealousy – Photo: Vesuvio Gardens

We asked how important this first run was to the community given how devastating things have been later in summer and fall as the wildfires hit in recent years.

“Going into the first round, people just weren’t feeling it because prices from last year were so low,” Jacovini said. “So people were realizing this first round of deps was important to survive. People are nervous to tell you that – you know I’m nervous. I don’t know what the prices are going to be. I know what I hear. It just makes it sound like the second round doesn’t sound too good. So everybody’s kind of basing it on trying to get in. I think a lot of people try to get in early, scared of what’s going to happen. Nobody knows what to expect.”

We asked if the spring was generally smooth sailing for those who got deps in the ground?

“Yeah, no problems. I mean hey, that’s why I’ve switched over years ago,” Jacovini said. “You got to nail it hard on the first one, you know? Realistically, it’s just your best bet and that’s what people are doing. I mean, depending on where you are up here you can go a little earlier than some places.”

The hurdles of distribution are exclusive to the legal industry. A lot of the nicest pot on the underground market bound for points east is sold before it ever gets chopped down.

“Because people are broke,” Jacovini said. “I mean, when prices dropped down, everybody held on to weed, you know, hoping it would go at least to $1,000 a pound. Everybody was hoping for $1,500… but $300? That was not in anybody’s math.”

Rainbow Belts – Photo: Vesuvio Gardens

Jacovini closed by noting the general vibe at the moment in Southern Humboldt.

“Everybody I talked to is super stoked about what they have,” Jacovini said. “And right now, just even at the pizzeria we’re a little slow because everybody’s in the middle harvest and replant. So, I’m trying to get a little gathering going so I can see what people got on deck.”

Further north in Humboldt, dry-farmer Chrystal Ortiz isn’t running any deps this year, but she’s one of the first to see them at her Arcata-based dispensary Herb & Market. Arcata is one of the main population centers in the county. Ortiz is permitted to grow deps and expects she will next year creating a windbreak on the backside of her farm. She also won the Harvest Cup in 2015 with some heat Candyland, but she gives her husband Noah a lot of the credit on that one.

“All the deps that were coming in the shop are just now getting tested and getting through all their quality control stuff,” Ortiz told L.A. Weekly. “So everything I have is kind of my personal stash samples and from the reps, but there’s some bomb stuff.”

Ortiz argued that this time last year, the first runs were not as beefy. But this year things look to be on point and she’s seeing some real chunkers. This includes great Animal Mints from Barrett Farms.

“It’s long slender nugs, but straight fire like Animal Mints can be,” Ortiz said. “I’ve also seen a lot of Dosilato from Humboldt Farms that is big chunky outdoor nugs. But boom, it just smells a OG Gas pedal, like you’ve got gas on your hands.”

Ortiz said the weather in that part of Humboldt had been great for the first round.

Ice Cream Cake – Photo: Herb & Market Humboldt

“Well, it’s been good the whole time. We haven’t had any smoke. We haven’t had any fires. We haven’t had any issue,” Ortiz said. “We didn’t get any rain, so we’ve been in a drought, but it’s raining today which is random. I don’t think that’ll put a hurt on anybody. It’s good because we were kind of threatened with some of that leftover hurricane activity and maybe some lightning storms. So pretty awesome that we just got a dumping of rain, so the lightning won’t be a threat anymore. I think everybody’s seasons have been mostly good. That’s why I think the bud structure looks solid – looks big, chunky and super frosty.”

Despite the great pot, one issue is that people are still sitting on a lot of product from last year. Ortiz feels like dispensary buyers just decided they weren’t going to buy anything else that dealt with the perils of 2021.

“It seemed like a light went off, and the buyers just said we’re not looking at 2020 weed no matter what,” Ortiz said. “And everybody who is unearthing their barrels and waiting for April, May, June, sales were caught holding the bag. And so I think there are people harvesting deps with hundreds and hundreds of last year’s pounds not sold. And so I think it’s super important because they probably have a lot of bills, and a lot of stuff to cover. But it’s also stressful because then, once the deps come in notoriously and historically last year is done.”

Ortiz noted it was the first time she has seen Humboldt so flooded with product at the start of the first dep harvest.

Wonderland Nursery founder Kevin Jodrey has been providing farms the clones they need for the season for decades. In the mid-2000s he was selling OG Kush clones by the truckload – Semi not U-Haul. He said it was awesome.

“The season has been fantastic and the quality of the herb has been fire,” Jodrey told L.A. Weekly during a break from a Ganjier training he is helping with. “Same shit grown as usual for the most part. Most farms are running stock from nurseries so the product diversity isn’t massive but this mid-summer dep is banging.”

Keep an eye out next week as we travel south to Mendo!

LA Weekly