EPISODE SUMMARY
Dr. Allison Justice, hemp and cannabis consultant, and owner of The Hemp Mine, a 40-acre hemp farm which produces a wide array of products and breeds validated hemp genetics to the hemp market.

Allison brings a wealth of experience, also as the owner of SC Botanicals, a large-scale hemp extraction facility in South Carolina. She’s played an integral part of the California Industrial Hemp Advisory Board and SC Farm Bureau advising policy and regulation and previously serving as VP of Cultivation for OutCo, a vertically integrated cannabis producer in San Diego.

Through research and education, Dr. Justice is elevating the standards of cannabis and hemp cultivation in all significant production systems. So whether you’re a bedding crop producer looking to get into the space, or hemp farmer with years of experience, they’re going to learn a lot in this informative episode. So stay tuned and now to the podcast.

 

Podcast Transcription:

Announcer          0:02

You’re listening to the Greenhouse and Indoor Cultivation Podcast presented by GroAdvisor. Tune in to learn strategies to grow your business, get the most out of your cultivation systems and advance your horticulture career.

Brandon Newkirk             0:17

Hello growers and business owners, it’s Brandon and Will, your favorite podcast hosts for the Controlled Environment Agriculture industry. Today on the podcast we have Dr. Allison Justice, hemp and cannabis consultant, and owner of The Hemp Mine, a 40-acre hemp farm which produces a wide array of products and breeds validated hemp genetics to the hemp market. Allison brings a wealth of experience, also as the owner of SC Botanicals, a large-scale hemp extraction facility in South Carolina. She’s played an integral part of the California Industrial Hemp Advisory Board and SC Farm Bureau advising policy and regulation and previously serving as VP of Cultivation for OutCo, a vertically integrated cannabis producer in San Diego. Through research and education, Dr. Justice is elevating the standards of cannabis and hemp cultivation in all significant production systems. So whether you’re a bedding crop producer looking to get into the space, or hemp farmer with years of experience, they’re going to learn a lot in this informative episode. So stay tuned and now to the podcast.

Brandon Newkirk             1:17

All right growers and business owners, thanks for joining us today for the Greenhouse and Indoor Cultivation Podcast. Today we have Allison Justice from The Hemp Mine joining us to discuss greenhouse hemp propagation, as well as William Goodin on the phone. So why don’t you introduce yourself. Really great to have you here Allison, nice to talk with you again. Thanks for joining us.

Allison Justice    1:37

Yeah, thank you for having me today.

Allison Justice    1:41

I am Allison Justice, and I am a founder and one of the owners of The Hemp Mine. The Hemp Mine is a vertically integrated CBD, I guess all cannabinoid, company out of South Carolina. We’ve been in operation about four years.

Allison Justice    2:00

And we do a little bit of everything from breeding, which I would say is our biggest part of the company, all the way to making retail products.

Brandon Newkirk             2:11

So you know, I’m curious, why did you join the cannabis and hemp industry? What gets you excited about this industry and how did you make it here today?

Allison Justice    2:20

Yeah, so it’s been an interesting journey. As you know, coming from the Southeast, cannabis, of any type, has always been taboo and is slowly today becoming less taboo, particularly hemp. But I got my PhD at Clemson in Plant Science and grew up on a farm and you know, kind of was always surrounded with plants.

Allison Justice    2:44

And in college, I knew I wanted to work with plants, but I didn’t necessarily know which type or how or, you know, all the details besides plants. And so ended up getting a PhD in Plant Science, but the focus really was greenhouse controlled environment style growing with the host plant being mainly floriculture crops with a lot of vegetables kind of sprinkled in there as well.

Allison Justice    3:19

But after I graduated, I did some consulting, mostly with IPM, Integrated Pest Management, with ornamental businesses across the US. And that eventually developed into consulting with cannabis companies, because as you know, they have a lot of the same insects, disease problems.

Allison Justice    3:39

As I started dabbling in the cannabis market, it was just extremely intriguing. You know, I appreciated it as a medicinal and as a plant itself, I just never necessarily comprehended for it to be a career. I eventually took the job with OutCo and in San Diego, and, you know, fell in love with the planet a whole new way. And it ended up being my career and I believe it will forever be for the rest of my life.

Allison Justice    4:15

But you know, I guess what really drives me to it is beyond the appreciation of [what happens] after it enters the body… As a scientist, this plant has been put in such a box because of legality, that with plant physiology and plant production there’s just so much to be learned. And as a researcher, that’s just so intriguing. There’s not many plants left on this earth, at least that we’ve found yet, that has been looked at so little, in terms of true research.

Allison Justice    4:53

And I know it has been grown for a long time, but it’s never been looked at in a way that tomato or apple has been looked at, where you can go and find hundreds of peer reviewed articles on the internet where so much is known about it. And so the newness and the ability to research, on top of it being a medicine is just, you know, it’s just so exciting for me.

Brandon Newkirk             5:20

Absolutely. I mean, it’s really like a blank canvas for a researcher to jump into this new world and there’s something to be said about the lowering quality of the taboo industry. Those that jumped in early are really seeing a lot of growth potential in the space. Because of that, a lot of more conservative areas have been slower to adopt and we really do see you as a pioneer in the space. So it’s great to really hear how much passion you have for it, it really shines through in your work and I think we see your face just about everywhere in the cannabis industry. So, yeah, I think that’s really exciting.

Brandon Newkirk             6:02

So talking about the taboo of it… There’s been a lot of talk about cannabis legalization lately, in the last week at the federal level. I think it was probably about a year ago, there was a lot of discussion about what hemp legalization would mean for the cannabis industry, likely accelerating it, and then here we are today. One thing many people aren’t talking about is what cannabis legalization may mean for the hemp industry, right? Certainly, there’s a lot of synergies between the two. We’ve seen a phase where a lot of bedding crop producers have moved into the hemp space. It’s a valuable crop, there’s probably more similarities than differences in a lot of those ornamental bedding crops. Certainly some differences as well, though.

Brandon Newkirk             6:49

I’m interested in your take on a futurist view here. What do you think cannabis legalization at a federal level will mean for the hemp industry? And what do you think hemp propagators and hemp breeders should be considering at this stage in our country’s history?

Allison Justice    7:07

Yeah, it’ll be really interesting to see how it shapes out, just with federal and state hemp laws. I’ve always had, you know, I make my predictions of how it’s going to shape out and most the time I’m wrong, or it changes two months later because of something or another. But, you know, I’d like to think that if marijuana does become federally legal, you know, for people and for consumption across the board, that’s a great thing. But it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a free for all. I think, as a consumer, it’ll be much easier to consume. But for a grower, it doesn’t necessarily expand your horizons, as far as me growing here in South Carolina and then being able to distribute anywhere in the US. That’s just not how it’s going to go, because each state gets to make their laws on how that shakes out. So I imagine at first it’ll open up a lot. But it’s not gonna… I don’t think it’ll be as big and robust as some are scared of, and then some might hope it may be.

Allison Justice    8:19

But I think one thing, kind of going the opposite way as for hemp, and just putting the truth out there, a lot of hemp producers will sell to licensed marijuana companies for them to incorporate, which, you know, obviously, in my mind, I think is a smart thing. But then there’s a lot of programs where the track and trace is in such a way where you don’t get foreign material in the marijuana products, which again, I appreciate. But I think potentially that could open up, you know, opening laws of incorporating hemp cannabinoids into marijuana production, potentially that could, you know, ease up a little. I’m not sure, so we’ll see.

Allison Justice    9:11

Yeah, I think it’s going to be interesting. And I think it’s a good thing. I know a lot of people may disagree with that and kind of want to keep things as they are. But you know, with being in the south, where it’s not legal, and people fight for it, and then being in California, where it’s almost opposite, where the taxes are so much that the black market, you know, civilians will say that, you know, they’re fighting for whatever’s cheapest because the taxes are so high and so they’re almost ready to get rid of legal marijuana. So I’ve seen it from both sides. And I absolutely do you think it needs to be legalized for health reasons. In consulting I’ve seen a lot of pesticides that should not be in one’s cabinet. And that is one thing that we get when we do legalize is that overview. And of course, there’s always sketchiness going on where things slip through. But we’ve got to start somewhere.

Will Goodin        10:12

Yeah, and just really quickly, Allison, I wanted to get your take on this. What do you think the likelihood is that Congress will vote and pass on federal legalization next month? Do you think that’s actually likely to pass? What’s your take?

Allison Justice    10:32

Um, I don’t think it will. I would like for it to, but I’m not so sure some of the states are ready for it. With South Carolina being one of them.

Brandon Newkirk             10:48

Well, we did see conservative states such as Montana and South Dakota, recently legalize. Certainly a lot has been done to reduce the taboo but I think it’s anyone’s guess at this point. As you said, I see most of the predictions in the space generally don’t come to fruition. Sometimes there’s a level of randomness that’s hard to predict.

Allison Justice    11:14

Yeah, absolutely.

Brandon Newkirk             11:17

Well, I think if it does pass, we’re going to see an acceleration in R&D certainly. And I think what you said about incorporating hemp biochemicals into other formulations that are cannabis derived will do a lot to further the industry as well… to lower production costs and consumables and things like that. So if anything, I imagine that’s a great thing for your business, and for other hemp breeders and propagators out there.

Allison Justice    11:45

Yeah, absolutely. It would be.

Will Goodin        11:47

Yeah, very interesting. Allison, I’m curious… Obviously, you’ve got a super robust resume and you’ve got a ton of experience with hemp. You own a hemp farm and an extraction company. I’m curious for our listeners, what tips and methods do you have for propagators? And I know that can get pretty granular, but are there kind of high-level suggestions that you would give to folks that are just getting into the industry or expanding their current operations?

Allison Justice    12:23

Absolutely. So we’ll kind of split that into two different methods of propagation. There’s seed propagation and then there is vegetative propagation, or a lot of people refer to it as cloning. And so here I’ll focus on vegetative propagation, as that is what we do mainly at The Hemp Mine just to ensure consistency, and clones of mothers in which we choose to be superior in order to have a very consistent and predictable crop.

Allison Justice    13:02

Seeds are great and they’re inexpensive and you know, a very much see them to be the future. But many times, because of the way of this plant, meaning it does have male and female flowers on different plants, not on the same plant, you’ve got to be careful with seed production. You know, are they feminized? Are they feminized well? Are they going to have hermaphrodites? And so I’ll focus on propagation for vegetative material.

Will Goodin        13:33

And how does The Hemp Mine ensure feminization? What kind of methods do you utilize?

Allison Justice    13:44

Well, when The Hemp Mine sells commercially, so if we sell liners to farmers, it is clones. So we don’t have to worry about that. But for breeding and just the the industry in general, I would say the most used product for feminization is colloidal silver. You could spray male or female flowers, but normally it’s female flowers which are sprayed with colloidal silver, and it changes them to also produce male flowers. And so then you have a hermaphrodite that’s breeding itself. And the offspring from that cross should give usually about 95% feminization rates. So 95% of those seeds will actually be female. There’s some times where it’s just the particular variety or potentially you really messed up on how you were reverting the plant, but in many cases in feminization, you’ll actually get a large number of hermaphrodites in that seed population, which is not a good thing because then it would be pollinating itself and making seed. And you definitely don’t want that.

Brandon Newkirk             15:04

I’m curious, what are some tips you have for hemp propagators? I know in our previous discussion you mentioned some things like temperature, humidity, and a number of others. Certainly we could get very granular with it, as Will said, but what are maybe some of the lesser known and lesser thought of practices and considerations for those that are just getting into the space, or even those that have been growing for some time that may come to a consultant like yourself?

Allison Justice    15:39

I come from floriculture, where if you have a one acre greenhouse that’s on the smaller side, and I know that seems ridiculous, because when you’re talking cannabis, if you’re a few thousand square feet operation, you’re pretty big. So originally my mindset was if you’re using booms in propagation, that’s efficiency. If you’re using foggers, that’s efficiency. And so when I got into the cannabis industry and everybody was using domes where you’re only able to grow 50 plants at a time, I thought, well, this seems silly for a large operation and wasteful. But after years of being in the industry, I do see whether it was meant this way or not, I do see the use of that. And that’s simply because of the humidity control.

Allison Justice    16:36

In propagation, it’s extremely important to keep your humidity very consistent and very high. If you’re able to keep it at 80% or above, for those first eight to 10 days, you’re going to be doing really well. But the trick is to not also overwater. So if we think about propagating in a greenhouse where you have misters. You’re going to have your mist event, your humidity is going to spike, you potentially are soaking the roots. Well, the sun’s out, so the second after the mist events over the humidity drops. The roots are still wet, but you want to raise that humidity. If you think about it, you’ve got a really crazy drop and raise in humidity and a continual need for a continual irrigation event of the roots. And that ends up being a really bad thing.

Allison Justice    17:40

And so if you think about the domes, it’s great because you water in your rooting medium, whatever that may be – rockwool or some sort of peat perlite mix – and you basically don’t have to water again, maybe once for the two weeks of rooting. And by default, with the dome, your humidity is constantly staying at 80% or even higher. But when you think about growing in a greenhouse environment, where it’s kind of on and off of the misters, it can really pose a problem. And so the continual soaking of the rooting medium is really terrible for hemp. It can cause all sorts of diseases from, you know, Erwinia, Pythium, or just simply slowing down the rooting process, because it’s so saturated. So some kind of simple tips for that propagation area is, you know, instead of having, for example, one mist event for 30 seconds every five minutes, you have a mist event every two minutes, but for five seconds. And so you’re not necessarily watering the medium, you’re just keeping the humidity up. I suggest to all my growers to install foggers, and that’ll absolutely help, even if it’s just between the mist events, to keep that humidity up. It’s been invaluable.

Brandon Newkirk             19:09

Yeah, that’s very interesting.

Will Goodin        19:11

Brilliant.

Brandon Newkirk             19:12

The media is certainly an important part of that as well. I read that many growers, especially in the eastern states where tobacco farming goes back quite a ways, that they use a tobacco type soil media for a while. But it would be way too wet for hemp cuttings and result in severe disease and growers now have been opting for drier media. I think you had mentioned another but I’ve heard you know coconut core as well. What are your thoughts on the most appropriate media and how is that going to vary depending on where you’re growing?

Allison Justice    19:48

Yeah, hemp propagation can be tricky. You know, if you’re comparing it to, say, marijuana propagation, on the highest of levels it was exactly the same. But what is different is that in marijuana, you’re taking it to another indoor room where it’s transplanted and it’s on automated irrigation. Whereas if you think about a hemp liner, you are putting this on a tractor, you have somebody ripping out the plant from the top, throwing it into the planter being pushed down into the soil by iron, and then potentially covered in plastic, if no one checks that plant. And hopefully you have irrigation in the field, and maybe you don’t. So it’s a tricky decision as a propagator, because on one hand, we’ll say I use oasis. That’s like a foam where you could pretty much water it 24/7 and it’s only going to hold a certain amount of water. And so if I mist it every two seconds, it’s fine, it’s actually going to be okay because it’s going to drain. Whereas if I were using just peat, like you were saying, it’s going to be extremely wet. And so in the propagation space, that’s a bad thing. And I would choose the foam over the peat. But then if we think about the field, where it could dry up really quickly, if there’s no irrigation, and it’s a dry week. Whereas I wouldn’t want that foam because it’s going to dry out quicker, I would want the Pete because it’s going to stay wet longer. So finding that sweet spot in between is really crucial and as a as a hint propagator, you can’t just think about what’s easiest for you. You have to think about longevity and it being able to survive for the farmer. So with that said, it’s hard for us to use foam even as much as I like it. When it’s transplanted, it can be rough on those places that can’t irrigate it immediately or even have irrigation. So something kind of in between, like you were saying, a peat/perlite, that does have some water retention but also has pretty good drainage, is what I would opt for.

Will Goodin        22:22

Very interesting, very interesting. I know you’ve got a pretty significant background in pest management as well. What kind of measures do you do typically take to maintain cleanliness and reduce any disease?

Allison Justice    22:41

So it’s very similar to marijuana. It’s not necessarily tracked as heavy as marijuana, but every day it’s growing with buyers wanting to see clean reports. Because, sadly, unlike organic vegetable production per se, even though you’re claiming to be organic, you could slip things in there and nobody’s going to check the tomato to see if one night you went through and sprayed a pesticide you shouldn’t. With hemp, once you get it extracted, it’s going to show that pesticide. So we are quite restricted, just as much as marijuana. And that’s not to say everybody minds the rules, but if they are, they are just as limited as marijuana production.

Allison Justice    23.32

If we’re talking about propagation, it’s very similar to what would be a concern for marijuana or really any other sort of propagator. You’ve got your fungus gnats, which can be very detrimental on the stems of the cuttings, but then they also can spread disease. For fungus gnats, pyrethrins are good. Some pyrethrins will linger and they’re not a great idea to use as they will accumulate in the plant. Many times, applying them in propagation is fine because they do degrade with UV so I would just be careful with how long you use them, I guess I should say. Other things like Bt, I think Gnatrol is the trade name, is really good for fungus gnats.

Allison Justice    24.29

But then also nematodes. They’re one of my personal favorites, the different species of nematodes. And so it’s basically a microscopic roundworm that you apply to your soil through irrigation and it’s a good bug versus bad bugs situation. The good bugs eat the the fungus gnat larvae and protect your soil.

Allison Justice    24:59

Thrips can be somewhat of an issue. Let’s see, shore flies can be… they don’t necessarily affect the plant directly, but they can be a host for different diseases. And again, a pyrethrin or a Bt or even certain species of nematodes can help with that as well. So I’d say, if you’ve got any experience with in marijuana production, I would use a lot of those same measures in hemp production, specifically talking about propagation.

Will Goodin        25:38

Very, very fascinating. What about certain soil amendments or fertilizers? Are there things that you would recommend for our listeners?

Allison Justice    25:50

Yeah, that’s always an interesting subject.

Allison Justice    25:57

In grad school, I always appreciated understanding not only organic fertilizer production, but also truly being able to optimize what a plant uses. And through doing that, basically being able to mix my own salts. I don’t just mean Part A and Part B, I mean mixing your calcium chloride or your certain type of ammonium nitrogen input. And really having the nitty gritty to optimize the plant. And if you optimize the plant, as far as nutrition goes, there should not be high amounts of runoff, because you’re not giving more or less than the plant needs. And so you know, that that kind of theory of not really knowing what the marijuana plant needs, and just simply fertilizing due to a brand… I’m happy to see the marijuana industry going that way. They’re applying what the plant needs, not necessarily what has the coolest looking label.

Allison Justice    27:13

And hemp has went down a similar path in having very hemp specific… and I mean, it does make sense to have specific formulations, but the formulation should not be crazy different than you would apply to any other plant. So what I mean by that is, sure, there should be a hemp focused fertilizer, but if you look at that label, and they’re supplying 13 times the phosphorus that you would apply to any other plant, there’s something wrong with that. And the label’s just trying to hook you in and take advantage of your knowledge of not knowing what your plant needs. So my point is, I would definitely go with go with traditional agricultural brands. They’ve been doing this a long time and they know what plants need, not just necessarily a unique marketing scheme. So I mean, my personal favorite, and this is been my favorite since I was little, I mean, it’s what my mom used to use, is Jack’s Fertilizer. You know, they’ll come out they’ll test your soil, they’ll test your leaves if you’re already planting, and really work with you to optimize what you need – not just throw you 15 bottles and say, “You need this, this, and this, because it sounds cool.”

Will Goodin        28:38

That’s very, very interesting. What are your thoughts on lighting for propagation, for flowering? Do you guys typically deal with supplemental lighting? Light deprivation? What are some of your general thoughts on lighting for our listeners?

Allison Justice    28:59

I love LED lighting, but at the same time, you have to look at your situation and judge for yourself and your setup, even your region in the US if you’re in a greenhouse to see whether you actually need supplemental lighting in the greenhouse, or maybe you just need photoperiodic lighting. In propagation you need very little light, at least comparatively. You’re looking at 100 to probably maxing out at 300 micromoles, at least those first 14 days. And so, if you’re in a greenhouse situation, you may not need any supplemental lighting; you actually might need shade cloth. But for those plants to stay vegetative, you have to keep them under a long day. So if you’re propagating in the winter, preparing for the spring crop, you might need photoperiodic lighting. And so all that is like, to keep the plant awake, to keep it from going into short days, which it would have in the winter, and then actually flowering as the liner. It takes a long time for it to revert back. And that’s definitely something you don’t want. And so photoperiodic lighting can be very inexpensive. You can even have just hanging string lights, and as long as they’re on enough to keep a long day, and with that long day having an asterix – a long day for whatever variety you have – then you’ll be doing just fine.

Will Goodin        30:50

Kind of switching gears a little bit, what are your thoughts on tissue culture for hemp? Is it pretty pervasive in the industry or what could you share with our listeners on tissue culture?

Allison Justice    31:04

Yeah, I think tissue culture is absolutely needed, necessary. Does every cutting in your field need to exactly come from stage three tissue culture? No, not necessarily, but I think it’s a very important cleanup tool. Seed is less likely to carry pests, as far as insects goes, but they do still have a chance to carry disease. And if that seed has a disease, well, you can grow that seed out and then put the plant under tissue culture to clean it up. But there’s not much else you can do. You can’t surface sterilize that seed. Whereas if you have a variety you love, and let’s just say it has fusarium, you can put it through tissue culture and clean it up. And there’s lots of ways to clean it up. You can keep continually taking top cuttings, you know, basically hoping it grows out of the fusarium. You could even add a fungicide in the tissue culture vessel to clean the plant. And so it’s a very good way to truly sterilize your plant.

Allison Justice    32:29

But I think the most important thing people need to think about especially if, say they have a plant and they want a tissue culture company to clean it up. Just because you put it through tissue culture does not mean it is clean. And so what I mean by that is, sure, it’s not going to have any more insects, we know that for sure. Sure, it’s going to get rid of your powdery mildew or kind of easy diseases like that. But if it has a systemic disease, just transferring it and sterilizing outside of that plant is not going to clean it up. And so I encourage you, whoever you’re working with, to ask them give me a list of plants you’re screening. And so when I say screening, what I mean is, they’ll put it through their steps for tissue culture. And then they actually send that plant out after they think they finished, or once they’ve got to a certain step, and have a pathology clinic test and say, okay, well is a certain virus out of this plant? Is fusarium out of this plant? It’s not a clean-all, which a lot of people think. It is very important for you to ask them, what are these diseases? What are your protocols and steps? And how can I be sure that you’re cleaning it up versus just throwing it in the jar for a couple of months and then charging me $10,000?

Will Goodin        33:57

Right, right. Fascinating. One other question too, just switching gears really briefly, where do you think the hemp industry is headed? Where do you what do you think the hemp industry is going to be in the next one to five years in the US, both cannabinoid and industrial?

Allison Justice    34:21

You know, I think we’re eventually going to get to a time where dual purpose is extremely important. And so if we’re talking about outside farming, I see it becoming very agricultural. It is agriculture anyways, but I guess what I mean is very mechanized and very just grown like you would grow corn. And when I say dual, in this case I mean being able to take out equipment. You plant everything by equipment, of course, but then you go back out and you harvest the tops. And the top buds have the cannabinoids that you’ll extract. And then you go back through and you extract the stems, which are then used for fiber production. And so you’re able to have basically two different types of commodities out of that one crop.

Allison Justice    35:23

The industry as a whole, I kind of see splitting into two different types. And so we’ll have the very agricultural, mechanized type that would be for fiber and for seed production and, and some cannabinoid production. But then we have the craft. And we’ll think about this, like your craft beer, or craft marijuana, where certain people do want to smoke it, they do want to have, a very complex type product, where they don’t want to get high, but they still want to appreciate the terpenes and the different types of cannabinoids. And so these plants, which will be grown very much like marijuana, they’ll be grown like that – indoors or greenhouse, or even some in places that’s conducive to that outside. But there’s genetics, and the ways we get to those genetics breeding-wise will be very different. And so, you know, will this come in three years? Or will this come in six years? I have no idea. But with the way prices for biomass are dropping, it could come sooner than I would imagine.

Will Goodin        36:39

Right.

Brandon Newkirk             36:41

Yeah, mechanization is on the way. We’ve certainly all been talking about that for the space for some time, but it seems more real than ever. I am curious for whether you’re growing hemp for extraction or industrial purposes. You have those hemp producers that purchase their seedlings and clones from folks like The Hemp Mine. But then certainly others are thinking about bringing propagation and breeding even in-house. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? What’s most prevalent right now? What are your thoughts on that?

Allison Justice    37:23

Well, I guess I would just always say… You can’t just say, I’m going to buy a bag of seed, and my cost is, whatever it may be, at this point I don’t even know, maybe 25 cents per seed, and that’s it. You’ve really got to think about all the other costs that go into it. If a seed is 25 cents, are you going to be direct seeding it? Probably not, because that’s a pretty high risk of loss. You probably will end up sowing that seed inside and then transplanting it. And so that 25 cents, then may go up to let’s just say 45 cents. If you buy regular seed meaning there’s females and males, you usually can get a much, much less expensive price per seed. But then you got to think about all the time and effort walking through your fields pulling those male plants or just looking for male plants. And what happens if you forget or just miss a handful of males and a lot of your crop become seeded? If you’re going for oil, maybe you’re okay with that little bit of loss in CBD due to the seeded plants, but if you are planning on going and selling those top flowers for smokeable, which is smart in a lot of cases, because the price per pound is, you know, so much higher, well, those plants will be ruined. So I guess, you know, if you’re looking to propagate yourself that’s great and very doable. But just make sure you think about all the cost associated for that whole process of each way you’re doing it.

Brandon Newkirk             39:18

For a while, I think even about a year ago, a lot of bedding plant producers were expanding and replacing their operations with hemp. It’s still happening today. Certainly, as you mentioned, a lot of profit to be made. You went through this process, many, many years ago, coming from more traditional crops to this taboo industry. You are certainly a pioneer in that way. After so much experience under your belt for those looking to make the switch that you did, today what are the recommendations you would give? What’s the number one recommendation you would give to those making the switch to make their life It’s a little easier and something to consider.

Allison Justice    40:03

Yeah, I think it can absolutely be a great addition for any ornamental greenhouse, specifically doing propagation. Reason being, if we think about right now in those greenhouses, they’re growing a lot of poinsettias, mums, and Christmas cactus. Well, very quickly, here in a month or so, those greenhouses are going to be empty. But it will be time to begin growing stock plants or thinking about bringing in seed or bringing in unrooted cuttings and rooting them. The Spring season comes quick, so it ends up being nice for those ornamental growers because their space would be empty anyway. So they’re not giving up one for the other, it’s actually just a nice addition to their space. It works out really well for many, but I would beware who you work with. I would not suggest going and buying a random bag of seeds, propagating it, and selling it for a dollar. Yeah, you might make a nice chunk of change at the beginning, but you’ve really got to think about there those seeds came from. What are you going to be providing that farmer? We’ve heard horror stories of that bag of seed ended up being actual marijuana and all that liability falls back on that grower. Although at the same time, a lot of companies are just saying, “Hey, the liability is on you if you have seed you want me to germinate for you. That way you can take them back and transplant in the field.” That’s a great way to make a little extra money in the propagation space you already have. But I would always consider that liability piece and be confident in the companies you’re working with that are providing those genetics.

Brandon Newkirk             42:08

Sure thing. Yeah, liability is not something to scoff at, right? It’s still not legal at the federal level, so… That kind of brings me to another point. For those that are looking to enter the space, they make think, “Hey, let’s just go buy a handful of seeds and turn around a quick profit.” Another layer to that would be, thinking about the long term, what’s your niche going to be? I think if you’re going to be propagating for a certain type of farmer or producing hemp for extraction or industrial, it’s important to niche down these days. You mentioned earlier CBG becoming more popular. I know you were doing some great work there. I don’t want to steal away any of your future plans or any of your secrets, but I think a lot of this information is readily talked about in the research community. In your eyes, what are some of the more exciting niches right now? And generally, what would you recommend for those looking to niche down? Where are great resources in the hemp community to educate yourself?

Allison Justice    42:22

Well, I’d like to think that we provide at least a solid amount of information, if not through us then we try to recommend who to go to. So check out our website and our blog.

Will Goodin        43:38

                Really quickly, Allison, what is your website and your blog for our listeners here?

Allison Justice    43:45

Oh! It’s just www.thehempmine.com and you’ll see at the top there a tab that says blog. And through that we have educational pieces, but also a couple of links to some YouTube videos where we do everything from have videos on our different varieties and talk about those in detail, to simply talking about photoperiodism and helping people understand what that is and why it’s so important to understand it in hemp and in marijuana.

Will Goodin        44:22

                Brilliant.

Brandon Newkirk             44:23

That’s great. Well, for those looking to niche down, looking to get into hemp propagation, hemp production, certainly check out Allison’s website. Stay tuned for some more guides and blogs on the topic at GroAdvisorWorldwide.com. It’s really a pleasure speaking with you, Allison. Looking forward to continuing to work together with you as a GroAdvisor partner here, developing some content and consulting with some of our clients. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you and thank you for your time. We’ll talk more soon.

Allison Justice    44:56

Alright, same here. Thank you.

Will Goodin        45:00

Thanks Allison!