Although it may not garner the same recognition as beloved weed holidays like 4/20 or 7/10, the entire month of October marks one of the most joyous occasions for both cannabis cultivators and budget-conscious consumers.
If you follow a handful of weed growers and cannabis connoisseurs on Twitter, you may notice the hashtag #Croptober trending once autumn rolls around. A quick scroll through your feed will yield an endless barrage of photos showcasing freshly harvested cannabis plants that would make any weed enthusiasts salivate with delight. But what, exactly, is Croptober and why is it so important to both growers and consumers?
“Croptober is the harvest season for the vast majority of sun-grown cannabis,” said Kevin Jodrey, founder of Wonderland Nursery, a Humboldt County, California-based farm. “Most cannabis we cultivate, it’s harvested in October.”
Throughout October and even spanning into the early weeks of November, cannabis crops across the Northern Hemisphere are ready for harvesting. While there are certain strains that tend to flower earlier in September or later in November, Jodrey estimates that about 80% to 85% of cannabis varietals are ready to harvest during the traditional October cycle.
After months of anticipation and providing tender loving care over their cannabis fields, outdoor cultivators will be spending most of late autumn cutting, drying, curing, and trimming their fresh bounty of buds. Soon after, an innumerable amount of cannabis from outdoor grows makes its way onto retail and delivery menus, where consumers eventually get to reap the benefits of Croptober, too.
What Does Croptober Mean for Cultivators?
The significance of the Croptober is heavily contingent on the type of grow setup that is being utilized. For outdoor growers such as Jodrey, this is the moment that they’ve all been waiting for since the previous harvest. This is the time for sun-grown cannabis to shine, the time of the year where outdoor plants are sprouting gorgeous trichome-laden buds that emit a tantalizing aroma.
“It’s an unbelievable celebratory time because everyone reaches fruition of the cycle,” Jodrey said. “You get the full effect of what it’s like to have a field of cannabis releasing aromatic esters and terpenes in the air, and people get to see the quality of the finished product.”
The main benefit of Croptober for outdoor cultivators is pretty clear. This is the season where the benefits of their hard work, which begins early in the summer, finally comes to fruition. Fields of cannabis plants are harvested and eventually sold to dispensaries and retailers.
However, as Jodrey explained, it’s also a moment of reckoning for outdoor cultivators, as they must be prepared for potential rainstorms that could cause mold to wreak havoc on their flowering plants. In order to avoid these harsh weather conditions, which could cause an outdoor cultivator to not make back production costs for the season, Jodrey and other cultivators strategize to grow several strains that are ready to harvest during different times of the month.
On the other hand, indoor growers have — at least historically speaking — had a much different perception of this harvesting period. In the past, Croptober was a frightening time for those running indoor operations, as the massive influx of outdoor-grown cannabis could cause the market price of a pound to drop by $400 to $500, according to Jodrey.
“Croptober was scary for a lot of producers in the past who were indoor cultivators because when the outdoor came out it would come in such a massive quantity that it would change pricing,” he explained. “Now, you have a more balanced flow through the year. So I don’t think Croptober is going to have the same incredible impact on pricing that it once did.”
But Jordrey believes that this fear has slowly dissipated as the cannabis cultivation market has become more diversified with more indoor and greenhouse operations. In California, according to Jodrey, there’s now a barrage of cannabis operations that pump out products year-round, which in turn has reduced the outsized effect that Croptober once had on the market. While this might not seem to bode well for frugally minded cannabis user looking to get discounted top-shelf products, the outdoor harvesting season still has a multi-faceted impact on the consumer.
What Does Croptober Mean for Consumers?
Although Croptober may seem to have the most direct impact on cultivators, consumers also benefit during this time as they can purchase high-grade cannabis flower at a lower price. After harvesting is completed during October, retailers will soon be stocked to the brim with fresh, sun-grown cannabis come November and December.
“People that are on a budget, which is actually a majority of buyers, they look forward to this time because it allows you to get a better price point on the sale,” Jodrey said. “The overall permitting costs of outdoor is less, and the quantity of outdoor is more, so it creates a little bit of a better margin for the farmer, and that trickles down to the buyer.”
In order to find this top-quality, sun-grown flower, Jodrey recommends that shoppers look at the harvesting date on the packaging and aim to purchase flower two months after that time. For example, if you find cannabis product that was harvested in mid-October, it will be at peak quality if packaged and purchased around mid-December.
Although the price drop from Croptober isn’t as significant as it once was, there’s another reason for the weed lovers and canna-curious tourists to get excited about. During the October season, people can visit these farms and get up close and personal with fully grown cannabis, accompanied by the aromatic terpenes and esters that are emitted during the flowering cycle. As cannabis legalization spreads and the general public becomes more educated about the plant, cultivators such as Jodrey see Croptober as a chance to give tourists a firsthand look at this magnificent plant before it hits the market.
“Croptober is not as impactful [to the market] as it once was, but it’s still culturally impactful.” Jodrey said. “I think the familiarity with that is what’s wonderful about outdoor cannabis, because it starts to connect the normalcy of cannabis cultivation as farming, the same as any other crop being farmed.”
Featured image by Kristen Angelo.