It is no secret that one of the biggest challenges facing California cannabis farmers today is the oversupply we are currently witnessing and the inevitable detrimental effect it has on the wholesale prices that those farmers can fetch for their hard-earned harvests.
Though the market prevalence of certain cultivars has become meme-worthy in grassroots cannabis culture (we’re looking at you, Ice Cream Cake…), what few people are discussing is the impact that this homogenization of strains on dispensary shelves has had on the value of cannabis crops as well.
One crew that is not only talking about this problem but is working on forward-thinking projects and collaborations to actually do something about it is the team at Dark Heart Nursery.
In operation since 2007, Dark Heart Nursery stays busy propagating connoisseur-grade genetics, much-needed research and education, and most recently, some stirring new developments to help farmers reclaim their rightful crop values.
All these aspects of what Dark Heart contributes to the cannabis reform movement caught our interest, and further research into the company during our recent coverage of the risks of Hop Latent Viroid further sparked our fascination. But with the Emerald Cup fast approaching, along with its added emphasis on the current plight of the small grower, we had to see what Dark Heart has in mind to help farmers find new flavors.
Seek Out Dark Heart Nursery at the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball… Trust Us…
As we alluded to above, when the marketplace gets flooded with a small number of strains, the lack of diversity for retail customers isn’t good for anyone.
Cuts like Ice Cream Cake, Thin Mints, or MAC 1 have enjoyed a hot run in the past year or so with growers and tokers alike and there are plenty of legit reasons why.
Proven genetics that yield big weight, that hit proper numbers on lab testing, that stack frosty trichomes, and that deliver desirable aromas will always be popular.
We aren’t saying that strains like this should be totally exclusive, but the complete lack of exclusivity leads to contagious confusion at all links of the supply chain and prices get skewed as a result.
Let’s look at Ice Cream Cake.
You, a seasoned smoker and educated fan of cannabis, may be able to tell the difference between some well-grown outdoor Ice Cream Cake and the same strain grown in a greenhouse.
You may very well be able to tell the difference between that greenhouse ICC and some grown using light dep techniques, and if you’ve got a really good nose for the plant you may even be able to tell the ever-so-subtle differences between expertly grown light dep weed and some darn good indoor buds… maybe.
Here’s the deal, though. An awful lot of retail customers and even retailers cannot tell the difference between those significantly different cultivation methods and the varying price points that ought to be attached to them.
So if you have a grower trying to sell a pound of indoor Ice Cream Cake for $2,000 wholesale, but a purchasing manager at the local dispensary is seeing pounds of light dep Ice Cream Cake that look “just as good” coming in for $1,200/lb, or greenhouse ICC that many custies will pay full price for on the “top shelf” that’s only $800/lb, or truckloads of outdoor Ice Cream Cake for even less, all of these price points get muddied.
When the “top dollar” price drops, everything below it drops, too.
Dakota Sullivan of Dark Heart Nursery says, “Right now, commercial growers are at an inflection point. Clearly, the impact of increased production in California has led to a supply imbalance which, in turn, is leaving growers with unsold product and uncertainty as they face 2022.”
Alluding to our Ice Cream Cake example above, Sullivan continues, “Another problem growers are facing is that many people grew the same strain last year. This is because a lot of growers rely on their distributors to tell them what to grow based on what those distributors see demand for on the market.”
That’s where we’re at and that’s why Dark Heart Nursery has come up with a plan to re-empower savvy cannabis farmers with scheduled drops of limited-edition cuts of cultivars that will drive high demand (and high prices) for the growers who can get their hands on them.
Terms like “limited edition” or “private reserve” have been abused by some cannabis breeders and growers for years, but these soon-to-be-released genetics from Dark Heart Nursery – in collaboration with some of the world’s most experienced cannabis breeders – truly will be limited in the number they will release, and that relative exclusivity is the key to this whole idea.
Dark Heart has chosen the upcoming Emerald Cup Harvest Ball on December 11-12 in Santa Rosa, California as the launchpad for this concept and we can’t think of a better venue.
The Emerald Cup has been an annual December destination for terp hunters and genetics collectors for many years as evidenced by the swarming crowds that will surely flock to the booths of various breeders and nurseries like Dark Heart.
If you’re lucky enough to get to the front of their line in time, Dark Heart Nursery will be releasing consistently healthy and proven clones of a limited-edition cultivar by the name of Fresh Air – the result of a collaborative effort with Purple Caper Seeds.
The aptly named Fresh Air will provide a long-overdue departure from the current hypetrain strains, featuring a mouthwatering cross of Chocolate Kush x Cantaloupe that is sure to offer a crowd-pleasing terpene profile along with heavy-hitting effects from its powerful Mazar parentage.
How many farms will get to grow this cut will be determined by who buys what at the Harvest Ball. It’ll truly be first come, first serve, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Future drops from Dark Heart and participating breeders will follow this same playbook, with limited numbers of cuts being released before they change the game again.
For example, they teased an upcoming collaboration with Kyle Kushman that will prominently feature his famous Strawberry Cough genetics. We can’t say much more right now but trust us when we say that particular cut is going to be in HIGH demand when details are released.
They explained this model to us like a grassroots record label. They want to gather the best artists in the cannabis genetics world and provide them with the means of production and distribution that folks without a 70,000 square foot facility might not be able to accomplish alone.
We are all about mutual benefit here at Beard Bros Pharms and this plan seems to be rooted in that concept.
Want to know more about this program? The Harvest Ball will be the perfect opportunity for you to get face to face with the crew at Dark Heart Nursery and talk shop.
The Deep Roots of Dark Heart Nursery
Dark Heart Nursery has been in operation since 2007 providing proven, high-quality, stable genetics to commercial and home cannabis growers. Healthy, rooted Dark Heart Nursery clones can be purchased in roughly 60 licensed retail dispensaries throughout the state of California in the spring and summer planting season.
With an office in Oakland and a cutting edge 70,000 square foot nursery facility in Half Moon Bay, California, from their inception Dark Heart has been able to provide farmers with thousands of consistent clones if needed as evidenced by the proliferation of iconic strains such as Blue Dream, Fire OG, Green Crack, and more back in the heyday of Cali’s MMJ market.
Dark Heart Nursery founded the first cannabis tissue culture lab in 2016 when they really began to hone their focus on improving plant genetics and health through breeding. That tissue culture / diagnostics / genetic breeding lab is currently located just blocks away from UC Davis.
As noted in our recent article on the subject, Dark Heart Nursery was the first research team to pin down the plant pathogen that we now collectively know as Hop Latent Viroid, or HpLVd.
Since that disturbing discovery, Dark Heart has performed over 200,000 HpLVd tests for over 100 commercial growers hoping to help cultivators identify if the issue exists in their operation and educate them on how to eradicate the risk.
Back to Dakota Sullivan of Dark Heart who told us, “We ultimately hope that growers take it as seriously as we do and realize that even in what is generally considered to be a ‘healthy crop’, they may still be experiencing 20-30% of their plants being affected by Hop Latent Viroid which means they are getting decreased yields and decreased production of minor cannabinoids and trichome production overall.”
Even though a common cause for the spread of HpLVd from one grow to another is in the transfer of infected clones, you can obviously rest assured that the clones that you get from Dark Heart will not come with such a timebomb attached.
In fact, their entire breeding program is steered toward not only quality, but ultimately toward functionality.
Of course they want their plants to produce weed that is nice to look at, nice to smell, and nice to smoke, but they are also pushing the boundaries of traditional breeding to meet market demands for specific plant traits.
Dark Heart Nursery Sees Fertile Ground to Educate with 2022 ‘Spring Trials’ Event
In what seems to be a first for the cannabis industry, in January of 2022 Dark Heart Nursery plans to hold what they have dubbed Spring Trials.
This is actually a pretty common practice among more mainstream agriculture outlets where they open their grounds to prominent buyers ahead of the spring planting season, giving them an exclusive first look – and first dibs – at the cream of the crop for the year to come.
This is just another way that Dark Heart Nursery continues to push our understanding, and the public perception, of the cannabis plant to new highs.
From outdoor to indoor, craft to commercial-at-scale, you can find the stable and unique genetics you seek, along with more information about all the above, at Dark Heart Nursery.
(Photos courtesy of Dark Heart Nursery, taken at Kind Farms)