“It’s in the Barn!” are words of celebration marking the end of the first phase of the cannabis harvest. We got it all in without too much hassle, with hopefully minimal mold or mildew. There was a day or two of light rain in September and then a few light frost mornings in October, but we worked around these threats and we were able to cut every different cultivar at its peak.
This year the plants were somewhat smaller due to the extremely cold, grey, and frosty spring. Nevertheless, with all our compost teas and foliar sprays, the buds developed fully and the long days of summer sunshine did the rest.
The yield will be moderate but the fragrances the plants were exuding for the last month promise delightful results.
Harvest is always crunch time, when the whole harvest crew rallies and gets done what needs to get done. It is not easy getting up at five am day after day as the mornings get colder, but curiously that hardship helps build team spirit. Everyone has to rise to the occasion because there is really just a three-day window when a plant is at its optimum moment.
By now we have the operating procedure down and everyone knows just what to do. The beds are numbered, so when we decide in the afternoon before the cut which plants to take, we have a list of the bed numbers. This eliminates confusion in the cold dark of the morning so the team can get right to work, pruning scissors or saw in hand.
We have a system whereby with each large plant all the branches are cut and placed on a blue tarp, which is then hooked together with a carabiner through several grommets, and then the blue Metrc tag is hooked on the carabiner. Alternatively, several small plants can be carried in one tarp with the Metrc tag attached to each plant stalk.
The tarps are then piled onto a waiting trailer, and when all of the chosen plants are cut and loaded, we pull the trailer to the barn. The extra material of the bulky tarps actually cushions the plants, so they aren’t crushed on the short ride from the garden to the weigh-in station.
At the barn, still in the dark, headlamps flashing, we unload all the tarps containing the cut branches or small plants. Calling out the cultivar name and Metrc number, a team member picks up each tarp and hangs it on the hook of the scale. As weigh master, I record the weight of each fresh-cut plant in a notebook. Then Nikki and I carry the plants into the barn to be hung on the vertical trellises.
When everything is hung, usually by around 9 o’clock, we all come in and have breakfast. Our farmer Harry records results into the Metrc system.
After the last cultivar is harvested the attention turns to monitoring the drying process in the barn. The whole barn is literally full of hanging green—every possible space has a full trellis. This is a crucial time because a whole crop can be perfected or ruined in the drying space.
We have four dehumidifiers, several fans, and a wood stove inside the darkened wooden barn There are meters to keep track of the temperature and humidity, and we check them several times a day. Fortunately, our newly installed solar power system is able to run the whole thing through the night.
We are already starting to take down the first cultivar we harvested and get it ready for bucking and trimming. It won’t be long until we can smoke our first test joint of the 2022 season. I can’t wait. But now I am going to light up a delicious vintage joint from our 2021 harvest and celebrate the new harvest.