The Harvest Issue 2017

November 09, 2017 | NORTHWEST LEAF

Fall is an absolute whirlwind of activity for the outdoor Cannabis scene. Sungrown farms have worked feverishly to harvest the crops they've worked so hard all year to produce. Take a moment to walk among the giants with us.


Picture 10-pound plants being harvested by the hundred, trim machines whirring twenty four hours a day, and crews of out-of-state workers toiling day and night to get the world’s most valuable crop harvested before winter rains set in.  

Though cutting the plants down and carefully hauling them indoors is only half the work, a lot of the most difficult aspects of Cannabis production are now over for full-season farmers. Once harvested, the drying, curing and trimming processes are initiated as the product is readied for market.

This year, the Northwest Leaf team defined what The Harvest Issue means to us and came to the conclusion that our focus needed to be exclusively on full-season sun-grown outdoor plants. This is a make or break style of growing in which farmers work year-round to harvest a single time.  Success is largely dependent upon weather and timing. It usually takes years of practice and a little luck to pull off a flawless crop.

This grow style produces some of the most jaw dropping, awe inspiring plants imaginable. With the right environment, some genetics will easily grow to more than 15 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter. On this trip, we had the privilege and pleasure of visiting some of Oregon’s 
most elite outdoor farms. Each had unique techniques, genetics and perspectives on the future of the industry and their place within it.

Please enjoy this special issue and take a moment to walk among the giants with us.


There is a magical feeling to standing among 1,500 giant plants that were selected in April and set outside for a long summer of growth, maturing into delicious multi-colored colas dancing in the October wind, waiting to be harvested and enjoyed.

Eastern Washington provides a wonderful climate for growing full term Cannabis, with good soil, dry weather patterns and a whole lot of sunshine. The climate pulled the Puffin Farms team to land near Ellensburg four years ago, launching into the I-502 market with Clean Green Certified full term sun grown Cannabis. Using only natural amendments and benefits in the soil like kelp meal, worm casting compost and nematodes. Puffin Farms is as close to an organic Cannabis farm as it gets. For husband and wife team Jade Stefano and Ben Short, the farm is the culmination of providing for patients and growing since 1990s. As a naturopathic doctor, Stefano is especially cognizant of safe growing methods, and wants to educate the public about sustainable, sun grown Cannabis.

“The natural cleaning system that nature brings of air, wind and rain help keep the plant healthy and clean, and from a naturopathic medicine perspective produce a more vital medicine because it’s exposed to the natural elements, and it’s supercharged with vital natural energy,” Stefano said. “Everybody needs to be educated about sustainably sourced and grown Cannabis. There’s a big disconnect among Cannabis consumers. They go to Whole Foods and want organic produce and meats, but when it comes to Cannabis they don’t ask for the same.”

Puffin Farms is breaking that pattern, mainly by growing incredibly tasty and terpy Cannabis that packs a significant high and flavors that aren’t seen in indoor flowers. The material is processed into CO2 by Jeff “Church” Wilhoit into Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO) for patient needs, and into flower jars and pre-rolls that prove outdoor is delicious and sustainable.

Choosing Puffin Farms to smoke means a choice for sustainability and quality, one that is easy to make.


Tucked away at the base of the Olympic Mountains, a short ferry ride away from Seattle, is a family-run Cannabis business that is breathing new light into a community one bud at a time.

These 200 acres of land have been in the Olsen family for more 60 years, originally operating as a dairy farm, selling milk from cows grazing on the land. In the past, there were more than seven dairy farms on the Olympic Peninsula. Jason Olsen and his wife Samantha both quit their jobs to grow Cannabis on the farm, to save the property while creating a new opportunity for their family and community.

The farm is set up as a “tri-brid,” a term Jason penned. The team grows indoor flower in three different rooms. A giant light deprivation greenhouse was being built, which will supply supplementary lit greenhouse flower year-round for the farm.

The final part of the “tri-brid” is the full-term outdoor garden, which looked radiating and blissful on a 70 degree October afternoon.

Several hundred plants danced in the light breeze under the golden sun, capping a growing season warm and stable for the Treehawk team. Fat colas dripping with trichomes and terpenes are great evidence that growing on the west side of the mountains is possible—even in the rain kissed peninsula.

Growing outdoors always is a risk, and the team was watching the morning frosts carefully at the end of the cycle, but the weather held to finish off a beautiful summer and a spectacular crop. With nearly 400 pounds of flower harvested and 200 going into packaging as bud, the sun grown Treehawk crop is a tasty testament to the growing climate west of Seattle, and proof that passion and effort will always deliver at the end of “croptober.”


A short drive from the Canadian border is a completely off-the-grid grow producing quality Cannabis in a sustainable manner.

Brian Knopf founded Pickens Mountain Cannabis in 2014, building his farm halfway up the mountain that provides a scenic and ideal growing location. Likely the largest legal off grid Cannabis farm in the country, Pickens Mountain runs on a combination of solar and wind energy, with propane generators if the weather doesn’t cooperate. The 1,600 plants are managed by Knopf and only two other employees, a testament to the watering system the ex plumber designed himself. Now in his fourth growing season, Pickens Mountain is running smoothly and efficiently, with a dozen strains that thrive in the high mountain country.

Bighorn sheep and other wildlife roam the property that recieves 300 days of sunshine a year, giving the thousands of plants everything they need to thrive and produce beautiful, delicious sungrown bud.

With a 3,000-pound harvest this year, Pickens Mountain proves that Cannabis can be produced with a low cost, and low environmental impact, and still be high in every way that counts.


Alter Farms is a beautiful, regenerative, living soil Cannabis farm just east of Grants Pass. When we first pulled around the driveway, the first thing my eyes caught was a towering row of what looked to be a sativa variety. The owners and farm dogs greeted us kindly at the gate, and lead us back to the various rows of legal Cannabis just starting to be harvested.

Purple Fire, Durban Poison and the award-winning CBD Cherry Wine made up a few of the planted rows. Other varieties were in the process of being pheno hunted to see if they’d make the cut for next season.

Alter Farms utilizes companion plants that grow alongside Cannabis plants, attracting and hosting beneficial insects and organisms that naturally keep pests at bay. Many of the plants at Alter Farms exceed 10 feet. However some of the sativa rows will reach nearly 13 to 15 feet tall by the end of the season, making the use of an orchard ladder necessary for harvesting tops.

The living soil mounds were integrated into a grass plot, which we thought was a much better option compared to dirt or gravel.


Sacred Roots Farms is a worthy OMMP full-season garden with plenty of robust plants. After touring so many recreational grows, it was a nice change of pace to tour a medical garden. We immediately felt the love as the entire Sacred Roots team, dogs and all, came to greet us as we pulled into the farm. I’m not just talking the owners… but the farm hands, trimmers, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, extended family, everybody welcomed us and showed love. Hugs were freely given and sparked joints were already in rotation. It felt so good to put faces with the OMMP garden I’ve only watched from afar.

Sacred Roots grows a large variety of Humboldt Seed Organization strains. Pre-98 Bubba Kush x ’76 Afghan, Fire OG BX3 and Vienna Skunk were a few of the cultivars, all fed with Elevation Organics’ full nutrient line. Each plant was terpene rich and chunking up beautifully. The area’s dry weather will allow the plants to finish nicely.

The diversity I saw within the Sacred Roots team was comforting in an industry dominated by white men. The element of community felt so strong here and I felt revitalized by the feminine energy after spending three days surrounded by dudes (no offense guys, you know I love you).


Sunna Ra Acres is a beautiful tier 1 full-season farm just outside of Shady Cove. Wind chimes, arches draped with vines and patterned soil beds housing medicinal plant varieties are first in view when you walk into the garden.

White Grapefruit, Jack Herer and Morning Star were a few of the strains growing at Sunna Ra.

Plants were at optimal health, showing off their fall foliage as the days and their life get shorter.

There was a tranquil, calming vibe I felt when exploring each plant at Sunna Ra. The passion and dedication to herbal plant medicine is evident and radiates from the garden.

The owners Jon Cunningham and Brie Malarkey also own Sun God Medicinals, a medicinal plant and herb company which utilizes many of the plants and herbs they grow at this farm. Among the harvest are milky oat tops, passionflowers and skull caps to formulate beneficial blends that all work synergistically with cannabinoids to offer more powerful relief.


High Valley Organics could be straight out of a classical Tuscan painting. It was so beautiful that we wanted to stop and take pictures before getting all the way up the driveway.

Nestled in a picturesque southern Oregon hillside, High Valley Organics is the brainchild of two brothers Cal and Jack Thomas and their mentor Monte Minchow. The brothers dropped out of college to pursue the dream in Cannabis after discovering how a small medical grow could help with their student loans. Cal and Jack bring their strong work ethics and a desire to learn and explore the latest growing techniques. They are wonderfully balanced by the wisdom and cool-headedness of Monte.

Together this small, yet dedicated team is committed to producing quality full-season

sun grown flower in living soil. This is High Valley Organics’ second harvest at the current location, where they plan on pulling down more than 40 strains, including Sour Skunk, Romulan and the local favorite of Purple Hindu Kush. Keep your eyes peeled for this flower to hit shelves at premium dispensaries across the state.


Sweden CBD Farm has operated for the last seven years under different forms: first as a hop farm and now fully as a Cannabis garden. It was previously a medical Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) garden and has transitioned to a recreationally licensed garden under the OLCC.

Despite the medicinal benefits of Cannabidiol or CBD, most full-season farms focused on cultivating THC-dominant strains. This was the only recreational farm that predominately grew CBD and 1:1 ratios. In an industry where we are up to our necks in THC, it was a breath of fresh air to immerse ourselves in a recreational farm committed to growing CBD excellence.

The farm is nestled in the heart of Applegate Valley, and the backdrop was absolutely stunning. The sloping hillsides and views of the surrounding Siskiyou Mountains gave a calming feel as we toured around the farm.

The Cannabis plants were planted vineyard-style, directly in the ground, instead of the medical monsters we usually picture when talking about Southern Oregon. Instead of plant numbers, Cannabis farmers grow by canopy size. I was truly in weed country. It was fascinating to witness evolving full-season cultivation techniques.

“We are really basic organic growers that use a few whole form nutrients. Mulch in the form of straw and wood chips, is key to our growing system to help us conserve the limited water we have. We also add organic matter that will break down in the future,” Grower Mark Thorkelson said.

Sweden CBD puts plants directly into the ground with additional organic amendments to enrich the native soil. The water comes from a seasonal pond that sustains itself from mountain water run-off, which the farm currently holds rights to.

I know what you’re thinking. Typically, CBD is the Cannabis you smoke for medicine and rarely enjoy. Believe me, this is how I approached most CBD flower—until I made the trip down South. Sweden CBD is doing fantastic work with CBD cultivation. The farm specializes in the strains CBD Medi Haze, CBD Therapy and CBD Yummy.

“We use feminized seeds from CBD Crew (CBD OG Kush) and the Humboldt Seed Organization. Then, via leaf tissue samples and cloning, we create THC:CBD ratios within the strains,” Thorkelson said.

I asked co-owner Sarah Erste why the farm chose to focus so heavily on CBD strains. “Besides that I love high CBD chocolates, I think the potential that CBD has to improve peoples’ lives is enormous. I’m amazed at how many people are using it already in diverse ways, from CBD gummies for recreation, to Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) for serious illness. I hope Oregon leads the way with CBD research and continues to expose people to the benefits of CBD,” Erste said.

The CBD Green Crack 3:1 was a revelation for me. Green Crack alone is a legendary strain in itself, despite its controversial name. The bud structure was full-bodied and just as resinous as its THC-dominant counterparts. I could smell the citrus limonene with generous overtones of myrcene—this is the CBD flower you actually want to smoke.

Sweden Farms delivers the craft grade of CBD-dominant flower our industry demands. Among other standout CBD crosses were the Blue Dream CBD cross and a gassy OG Kush CBD. The Blue Dream CBD was cloaked in a deep purple fade and laced with glassy trichomes.

But, the true glamour queen of Sweden CBD was the amethyst tinted Raspberry Diesel CBD. Honestly, it was one of the most beautiful flower expressions I have seen in Oregon. After viewing the Raspberry Kush CBD, I have a whole new respect for the potential of CBD genetics.

I commend Sweden Farms for spearheading the quality of CBD.

You are truly ahead of your time.


Pilot Farm is a gorgeous, tier 2 recreational Cannabis farm situated on the southern slope of Mount Ashland. The scenery is breathtaking; the first steps onto the property are met with a spectacular view of the valley just before the Oregon-California border. Terraced rows of plants are situated in what the farm calls “Machu Picchu,” the smaller, top portion of the canopy. We first ventured to the lower terrace which involved—I kid you not—a steep 10-minute quad ride down the treacherous, rocky slope. The upper and lower canopies are separated by roughly a mile and a half, but are located on the same address, making Pilot Farm one of the first and only OLCC licensed producers to have canopies separated a few miles apart.

The lower canopy had a north and a south plot filled with a large variety of Mountain Girl crosses. That strain does particularly well in the high elevation climate. The Pilot Farm rarely allows outside visitors, which helps keep the Cannabis pest and disease free.

Each strain is grown in native soil with little to no additives or amendments, an effort to be completely sustainable.

Pilot Farm generates its own energy thanks to a large solar panel just behind the lower canopy. Many employees live on-site in small mobile homes or tents and many are seasonal.


The drive into Liontree Farms brings you up a windy dirty road before arriving at the property.

The farm is located on a south facing terrace a handful of miles west of Talent, Oregon. This slope is notorious for having some of the best sun in all Southern Oregon. Most strains are grown from seed, as the crew is always eager to phenotype new varieties. Chem Dog, Sour Diesel, Dutch Treat and Wedding Cake are some of the varieties kept in rotation each year.

The plot is divided into terraced rows that continually rise in elevation, making the walk to the top a bit of a work out.

Growers and owners Aaron Ward and Will Eubank personally walked us around, stopping to show off some of their favorite varieties as we smelled almost every plant.

The Liontree team was particularly stoked with many of the Doc Seeds Headbanger crosses, as they were exhibiting vigor, and high levels of terpene and resin production.

Water tanks are located at the top of the hill, as the farm utilizes a gravity-fed irrigation system to help water the organic dry fertilizers. The love and care that goes into each plant is apparent. This is some of the best full-season farming we have ever seen.


Roganja is an OLCC licensed tier 2 farm located near Eagle Point. The in-house seed company, Massive Seeds, provides most of the genetics for the recreational farm. Pineapple Pomegranate, Rogue Blue Cheese, Rogue Valley Wreck and Jaeger x Herijuana OG were just a few of the varieties growing at the Roganja garden. Each tier had a placard distinguishing the strain, and making it easy to find plants for harvest.

The stacked spears of dense, trichome covered colas towered over us as we moved through each row. A few rows were designated to light deprivation in order to get some early finishing varieties.

The crew was busy leafing a few of the first finished plants to kick off the harvest season. We took a tour of the drying room, which was easily one of the more impressive, climate controlled humidors we’ve seen. Drying racks and weed walls were abundant in the cure room while we shuffled through to check out each cultivar. Even the stairwell was covered in hanging colas.

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