Director of Production
Prime Wellness of Pennsylvania
Sinking Spring, PA
I’ve been in the cannabis business for more than a decade, but I can still remember seeing my first cannabis plants in my father’s greenhouse. He mostly grew from bagseed found in high-quality cannabis, using homemade fertilizer blends and Colorado sun. Those vigorous plants taught me at an early age to appreciate the many benefits of starting cannabis plants from seed.
I knew right away that this plant was special but never could have imagined just how big the medical marijuana industry would grow. Fast forward to New Year’s Day 2018, when I joined Prime Wellness of Pennsylvania as its director of production; at this point I had worked in the regulated industry for almost nine years and gained extensive experience in the commercial industry as both a cultivator and consultant in Colorado, Illinois and Ohio.
Prime Wellness was one of the first companies licensed to grow and process medical marijuana in Pennsylvania and had just completed construction of its brand new, 30,000-square-foot cultivation facility in Berks County. Exactly 31 days later, I planted more than 3,000 seeds that would launch Prime Wellness’ new “prime” brand.
For Prime Wellness of Pennsylvania, the decision to start completely from seed was an obvious choice for a couple of reasons. At the time, there was a shortage of product on the market and using seed was the fastest way to get product out with a guarantee that our plant material would be clean. The second reason was simple: We had access to a trove of new, exclusive and proven seeds. Not only had I spent the past decade collecting unique genetic lines through selective breeding, but Prime Wellness’ parent company, Acreage Holdings, happens to employ one of the most well-known breeders and commercial cultivators in the United States, Philip Hague.
There are many benefits to starting from seed as opposed to clone, but it all comes down to your goals and application. Clones provide more predictable results but can also harbor problematic pests and diseases that can be detrimental to your crop and dramatically increase operational costs. Seeds are much more vigorous and produce hearty plants, whereas clones lack the taproot and require lower levels of light and food than seedlings. Ultimately seeds are more work, but the payoff can be great when given the ability to search through large populations for rare and desirable traits.
The initial “pheno” selection process was tedious and took tremendous effort, but in the end, the choice to start from seed has certainly paid off for us. In only eight months to market, we’ve released more than 100 exclusive and unique cultivars, quickly establishing a reputation as one of Pennsylvania’s top cannabis brands, and selling every single gram produced to date.