When it comes to best practices in post-harvest production, cannabis professionals hold a variety of strong opinions. However, the growth and evolving quality of the legal cannabis market presents clear realities. Growing demand and the rapid pace of legalization in the U.S. has inspired many entrepreneurs to pursue multi-state operations. Cannabis companies are investing in trimming and sorting technology that standardizes production processes, increases final product quality, and maximizes operational efficiency.
The rise of the global cannabis industry is undeniable and the state-by-state legalization of cannabis in the U.S. is almost certainly inevitable given the political complexity of prohibition. These dynamics have inspired smart businesses to establish loyalty among a geographically and demographically diverse consumer base. Whether the consumer is a medical patient in Hawaii or a recreational enthusiast in Nevada, they likely share the same baseline expectation: consistent, gently trimmed, quality buds with paramount potency and aesthetic appeal.
Anticipating Market Expansion
Rapid legalization trends and the introduction of cannabis companies to the New York Stock Exchange have inspired ambitious investors, as well as outside industries, to take interest in the plant’s potential. While pouring money into the cannabis market is still risky for investors, their enthusiasm is evident. Those who are particularly bullish about establishing their stake in this new essential market have boldly invested with private companies or even donated to crowdfunding campaigns. These investors are enthusiastic about the cannabis industry’s capacity to catalyze uniform standards throughout the country.
The cannabis industry can generally be divided into two distinctive sectors: medical and recreational. Companies like Vireo Health are spearheading efforts to prime the market for quality assurance and universal standards in both sectors. Vireo Health manufactures cannabis products, operates dispensaries in multiple states, and conducts scientific research to improve product quality. Research on post-harvest operations conducted by the Cannabis Business Times (CBT) in 2020 showed 85 percent of participants package and or produce some or all of their own products. It is becoming increasingly popular for cannabis businesses to engage in every step of the seed to store process, providing direct control over quality assurance.
In a 2019 interview, Vireo’s former Executive Chairman, Bill Linton, expressed his vision for Vireo. The company operates with long-term intent; concentrating its operations in states that have already legalized medical cannabis and are likely to legalize recreational use within the next two years. Three years later, Vireo’s holistic and strategic approach to cannabis business has proven successful. When Minnesota legalized the consumption of flower for medical patients earlier this year, Vireo was well-prepared to adapt. Today, a majority of the company’s markets expect more substantial revenue growth as impending changes to regulatory regimes are implemented. In 2022, Vireo expects to generate total revenue in the range of $140 to $180 million.
The criminalization of cannabis does not deter the unregulated market, and in a new age of cannabis, this becomes even more significant. The dangers of unregulated THC products, like Delta 8 vape cartridges, have been frequently highlighted by the media. It has become increasingly vital for cannabis companies to seek the best technology and processing machinery available. Ensuring product quality with top-tier technology helps businesses gain strong footing in the future of cannabis. The businesses who invest in this technology now, will be the businesses that survive the standardization of the industry. Regulations will continue to develop on a state-by-state basis, which means businesses’ adherence to consistency and quality standards will be paramount to their success. Those who are unable to comply, will face heavy fines and ultimately be priced out of the industry. For those who are currently engaged in or planning to implement post-harvest processing, choosing the best trimming and sorting technology is not only important for product quality assurance; it also fortifies businesses in the competitive future of cannabis.
In many ways, the future of cannabis has already arrived. Industrial trimmers have evolved to closely mimic the gentle touch of a human hand and the best sorting machines operate with unprecedented precision.The industry’s ability to produce high-quality flower has quickly generated higher consumer expectations. As consumer bases grow more familiar with the characteristics of high-quality cannabis, they become intent on purchasing well-manicured frosty buds with rich aromas and “bag appeal''. Research conducted by the Brightfield Group revealed that high quality products are the most important priority for over 1/3 of cannabis consumers in the United States.
While the steps leading up to the trimming process are important to the preservation of trichomes, trimming and sorting are traditionally the two highest plant-touching parts of post harvest. In CBT’s post-harvest research, 30 percent of participants indicated struggles in the maintenance of cannabinoid/terpene levels in their final products. To provide customers with consistent, effective, and beautiful flower, cannabis companies must turn to state-of-the-art technology, like the Green Broz N Line System.
Upgrading Your Post-Harvest Process
There are numerous considerations a business must make in post-harvest production, and some growers choose to end their process with trimming. However, this leaves room for massive inconsistencies in final product appearance and quality. The buds can range dramatically in size, causing packaged product to appear inconsistent. A quarter-ounce of packaged flower could end up as two big buds and some shake, a collection of tiny buds, or a mixture of all three. Cannabis businesses that use automated sorters to separate and categorize similarly sized buds produce more consistent and marketable final products. Sorting also allows businesses to more efficiently separate trimmed cannabis suitable for extraction and packing pre-rolls.
Today’s automated sorters are usually designed in one of two ways. One common sorter employs a round vibrating cylinder that can be outfitted with a range of filter sizes through which the buds sift. The other style uses a conveyor belt lined with configured plastic bands converging toward the end. This design allows different sized buds to fall into designated trays as they travel down the belt.
Greenbroroz Precision Sorter is a masterfully designed version of the conveyor belt sorter system with the power to filter over 90 pounds of flower in a single hour. Automated adjustable band sizes make it easy to maintain consistency across multi-state operations. And average return on investment (ROI) is less than three months.
While choosing a good industrial sorter is important, the sorting process can be further optimized with a continuous feed and integrated trimming system. The Greenbroz N Line System does exactly that. The system is made up of one Model M Dry Trimmer, one Precision Sorter, and two Rise Conveyors. And it can trim and sort over 30 pounds of flower in under an hour. Each element of the trimming and sorting technology is crafted from surgical-grade steel and features food safe conveyor belts, inhibiting microbial growth and ensuring a gentle touch.
Because consistency, efficiency, and trichome preservation are vital to a successful post-harvest production, the standardization features of the N Line System make it even more valuable. Each machine in the system can be configured and automated to specific settings for consistency across multi-state operations. The rise conveyors also detach from the endline to introduce metered feeding into any part of the operation. The thoughtful design behind this system can optimize the post-production process of cannabis businesses and give your final product the same appeal as hand-trimmed flower - without the added expense.