Grants Pass, OR
Here at Alter, the majority of our production comes in the form of clones, a genetic copy of the cultivar. We grow from clone to offer the consumer a consistent and dependable product.
Even though we have many staples, the search for new and award-winning varieties is never over. One-eighth of our field is allocated for seed and the pursuit of the next great phenotype. Even though the breed cross of a seed is the same (for example, Pineapple Thai crossed with Granddaddy Purple), each seed expresses something different and it is our job to sort through and select the most desirable individual plant (the photos below, for example, show three different phenotypes from the same cultivar raised at Alter Farms).
Then comes the fun part. In the first round of selection, we judge by subjective marketability: Does the smell pop, tantalize or capture your attention? Does the structure of the plant lend itself to commercial production and good yield? Did the plant have a tendency to mold or a high susceptibility to pests? We inspect the flower underneath a microscope to observe the type and density of trichome development. And lastly, we grind up a small bud to release the full aroma of the terpenes. Every plant is unique; in one genotype the smell of lemon starburst shows up and in another, the sweet spice of clove and cinnamon.
The favored selections get a small amount trimmed up and put into glass jars where the smells are revisited, and varieties are smoked in vaporizers, joints, bowls and bongs. We have a great time at this stage in the process, inviting groups of friends over for dinner and a literal smorgasbord of flavors and experience. Everyone prefers a different smell, taste or effect, and we try to get the top selections in as many hands as possible.
The next round is up to the testing lab. We send the winners from our subjective round for a full cannabinoid and potency test. A sad but true reality is the gravitation of the consumer to varieties that have a high THC content even though, in truth, I’ve had 14% THC flower that has left me tongue-tied and flat on the couch. But alas, driven by market desires, we look to THC percentage and the full cannabinoid profile to move varieties ahead of the others.
In addition to cannabinoid testing, we also have a terpene profile performed. However, terpene testing provides its own set of challenges and inaccuracies, and we test with a few labs to gather as much data as possible. Terpene profile is hopefully where the market is maturing, as science is discovering the importance and benefits of the entourage effect.
Despite the challenges, work and stress of running a commercial cannabis farm, having the ability to grow hundreds of seeds in the search for new and exciting cultivars is one of the most enticing and rewarding aspects of being a producer in today’s recreational cannabis market.
We hope you enjoy our next selection.