Natural disasters are sweeping through the western United States. Now U.S. cannabis farmers in robust cannabis states face crop devastation.
Colorado’s Early Cold Weather
An early cold front swept into Colorado this year. The rapid temperature decrease experienced by Colorado cultivators came with an early snowfall.
The change in temperature came one day after the U.S. Labor Day holiday on September 7th. Weather forecasters predicted the weather to change overnight. The Labor Day’s high of 92 degrees Fahrenheit rapidly changed during the night due to a cold weather front.
The weather conditions resulted in a temperature drop of 21 degrees Centigrade (70 degrees Fahrenheit). Lower than the weather forecasters predicted.
The forecasters did get the precipitation prediction right on the nose. The Denver Post reported there would be a 100% chance of precipitation. And they were right.
Overnight and Tuesday afternoon snow fell on the outdoor fields of cannabis. Marijuana cultivators were unprepared for the snowfall and temperature changes so early in the season.
Jon Vaught, CEO of a cannabis biotech firm Front Range Biosciences, said surprise temperature changes plus snow were “catastrophic for growers.”
Some growers were ready for the drop in temperature but few if any were ready for the snow. A few cities got almost 12 centimeters (5 inches) of snow between September 8th and 9th. In Allenspark snow total was 16.5 centimeters (6.5 inches). Other places even more. But for cultivators like James Lowe, it wasn’t the 23 centimeters of snow but its wetness.
The farm James Lowe runs has about 7,000 plants. When the snow fell it was so wet and heavy it caused the canopy protecting the plants to collapse. Destroying his largest harvest yet. His losses could amount to between $4 million and $5 million USD. He blames it on the weight of the snow.
At this point it isn’t clear how much of the state’s total cannabis crop can make it. Without federal relief the state’s cannabis economy could face devastating effects.
Cannabis farms in California, Oregon, and Washington State are facing wildfires. Cannabis farmers in these states fled their crops for safety in the past week. A few cultivators salvaged as many genetic materials as they could. Others rushed to finish their harvests before the wildfires got to them.
Last year the wildfires lasted for weeks before the federal government helped. This year more than 3 million acres of land have been destroyed by the fires. And it continues to rage on.
Scientists believe global climate change is to blame for the wildfires. That means wildfires will be a fact of life for years to come.
Also cannabis crops, buildings and equipment have burned. Leaving some growers desperate to know what will happen to their operation in the future.
U.S. cannabis companies are not legally operating under federal law as it stands. No federal approval means no insurance. Without insurance most cannabis farmers have to come up with a plan for the future.