EVAPORATION OF TERPENES & MOISTURE STRIPS VALUE FROM A HARVESTJulie Fulton @ 2019-06-12 15:30:56 -0500
Post-harvest is tricky. All of the hard work cultivators put into their grow-op can be compromised once the flower is sold and leaves their hands. What was once a top-shelf, premium bud can quickly and easily become sub-par at any point during its journey from the soil to the customer. So how can cultivators control their harvest once it’s in the bins, out for distribution, or on the shelf? The answer is to manage evaporation throughout the supply chain.
EVAPORATION: FLOWER’S QUALITY AND VALUE ARE AT RISK
How Evaporation Affects Quality
When cannabis begins to dry out, the terpenes of the flower start to evaporate. This results in a low quality product and poor customer experience with a brand.
How Evaporation Means Lost Profits
Additionally, when the flower’s moisture weight begins to evaporate, the economic value of the whole harvest drops and affects the producers bottom line.
OVER-DRYING: THE POST-HARVEST OVERSIGHT THAT CAN COMPROMISE CRAFT
“People focus on growing the plant but they forget about the post-harvest which is integral to the process,” Matt Christopherson, VP of Business Development & Partner at Twister Trimmers, said.
“It doesn’t make sense walking away from something you took eight weeks to grow passionately.”Matt Christopherson, Twister Trimmers
Everyone knows mature buds must be dried and cured before they can be smoked or vaped. But there’s a fine line between achieving an optimal cure and over-drying a harvest. When too much water dissipates from flower, its quality and potency suffer. This ultimately puts the cultivator at risk resulting in a poor quality product and a damaged brand reputation in the market. Not to mention—the drier the flower, the lighter it weighs. So you do the math.
Cultivators can’t afford to slip in today’s highly competitive cannabis field—trip up and savvy consumers move on. Producers must combat moisture evaporation like the plague that it is. The results speak for themselves: the brand is saved, the investors are happy, the customers are happy.
EVAPORATION IS STANDING BETWEEN A PERFECT HARVEST & THE END USER
In the nascent cannabis industry, those in newly legal rec markets would buy just about anything—at first. As markets matured, so did consumers’ palates. Customers now recognize when flower is not up to par, they buy more of what they like and skip brands that disappoint them.
Since 2012, adults in Washington state have been able to legally buy and consume cannabis. And some Washingtonians are none too happy about the product they’ve purchased. Origins Cannabis, a premier dispensary in Seattle and Redmond, wanted to find out why.
Origins ran a campaign asking people to bring in empty containers from flunky flower—whether they bought it at Origins or not. The consumers filled out a quick iPad® survey to review the product.
“It would help us understand what they didn’t like,” said Jon Sherman, who runs Origins along with business partner Andrew Cornwall.
“We were blown by what the results were. It was because their product was too dry.”– Jon Sherman, Origins Cannabis
Drew Emmer of Boveda isn’t surprised. Boveda holds the patent for portable two-way humidity control used in moisture-sensitive products, including cannabis. A third party study found that cannabis stored with Boveda retains 15% more terpenes than flower stored without Boveda, Emmer explained. Losing too much moisture degrades flower—its terpene retention, efficacy, potency and weight.
“What was once considered a ‘seed to sale’ supply chain is now actually ‘seed to satisfaction’.”– Drew Emmer, Boveda
Selling harvested cannabis is no longer the end of the road for cultivators. Prior to the legal cannabis industry, utmost high demand for cannabis didn’t leave much necessity for addressing customer satisfaction or other post purchase factors. Now that the industry is becoming legal, regulated and competitive; cultivators now need to take into account customer satisfaction and post purchase factors.
THE IDEAL: 55-65% RH PREVENTS TERPENE & MOISTURE LOSS
Optimally, flower should be kept at a water activity (aW) level between 0.55 and 0.65, according to a recommendation by ASTM International standards. Cultivators and retailers can achieve this by storing flower in a container at a relative humidity level (RH) between 55% and 65%.
THE REALITY: 90% OF FLOWER IN THE MARKET IS SOLD TOO DRY
Boveda regularly sends secret shoppers into dispensaries to buy off-the-shelf flower. Boveda then tests the samples to discover their water activity (aW) level.
A field study of five dispensaries throughout the western U.S. revealed that most flower available to consumers is too dry.
THE FINANCIAL GAIN: EVAPORATION COSTS PROFITS
There’s an opportunity for cultivators to set themselves apart in an industry that is only getting more competitive. According to Boveda’s field study, retailers could actually gain up to $5,500 in additional revenue per 100 pounds if they added humidity-control measures to their products.
3 WAYS TO TAKE CONTROL OF EVAPORATION THROUGHOUT THE SUPPLY CHAIN
1. Control Evaporation At Curing
Preventing too much moisture from evaporating starts long before flower hits the shelf.Curing is a craft in and of itself. The challenge is to revive without over, or under humidifying dried product.
Curing slowly at an optimal humidity level:
- Gives buds time to fully develop their chemical profiles
- Leads to higher potency of therapeutic cannabinoids and terpenes
- Refines the pure essence of beloved strains
2. Manage Evaporation In Inventory & Distribution
Cultivators are processing more flower to meet greater demand. As a result, more product is stored in inventory. And evaporation is the bane of binned cannabis. As moisture content is lost, so are the terpenes and cannabinoids that make the strain what it is. So carefully grown and cured cannabis may be compromised before it even leaves a facility.
3. Add Humidity Control Into Packaging
Some growers use vacuum-sealing technology to create an airtight environment, which can leave bud dense and difficult to smoke. Other vertically integrated producers add humidity control to every vial, jar or bag before sending flower to market.
Packing flower in a container with proper humidity control:
- Continues to refine aroma and flavor
- Retains terpenes and cannabinoids
- Controls evaporation once product leaves the cultivator
WELL-HUMIDIFIED FLOWER GIVES COMPETITIVE EDGE
Cannabis is a thriving business. Successful cultivators focus on technique, innovation and final product. When cultivators take proper steps to control the humidity of their end product all the way through the supply chain, their companies will output consistently quality product. And quality product attracts consumers, fosters trust and builds brand loyalty.
What’s at stake is everything aforementioned.
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