For Part 4 of our Growing Weed in Washington series, PotGuide sat down with Scott Myers, Matt Vaagsland and Doug Brody of Kiona Farms to learn more about growing weed in Washington’s wine country, how to grass and wine are similar and how baby your native soil.
Kiona Farms is located in Benton, Washington, in the southern part of the state. Backed by Red Mountain, Benton’s sandy loam soil is renowned for wine. Kiona Farms shares the region with 37 local vineyards and wineries. Kiona is known for producing artisanal, sun-grown cannabis, with a focus on hard-to-find and vintage strains.
Interview with Kiona Farms
[Paul Barach]: What does growing weed look like in Washington? Why did you choose Benton?
[Scott Meyers]: We chose it mainly because I live here (laughs). We looked earlier for better spots, but Benton County really is a great place to grow a lot of things, and the climate is particularly well-suited for cannabis. So it was by chance that we grew up here.
[PB]:Why is the climate so good for growing weed?
[Matt Vaagsland]: The landscape [resembles] the Rif mountains in Morocco [where nearly all of that country’s cannabis is grown.] There’s intense sun, it’s usually on the drier side, and that good soil. The combination of the three has a great effect on cannabis.
[PB]:Are there any benefits or challenges to growing weed in Benton?
[SM]: The climate is wonderful here. We have long dry summers. We do light deprivation [using shaded canopies]so we try to harvest our crop before the cooler, wetter part of the season sets in.
[PB]: Are there any weed varieties that grow particularly well here?
[SM]: Our silver lights is particularly robust. dread bread produces very well here, but due to its heavy buds it needs support. Triangle Kush is a fairly easy keeper… Among the others, Big Sur Hippie weed, a delightful flower, is difficult to propagate. We choose strains because of their uniqueness, extraordinary effects, not because they are “bombproof” or easier to grow. Our sativas, for example, take 12-16 weeks to flower, which is more than enough for things to go wrong. They are picky plants.
[MV]: Some of the OGs, the plants that can be more difficult for indoor growers like Triangle Kush and Loompah’s Headband, are doing well on the farm. They like it there.
[PB]:Do you have any particular cultivation practices that you use? Why?
[SM]: The native soil is remarkable to begin with…it’s one of our greatest assets Over the years we’ve modified it with organic compost and treated him very well. We try to maintain the integrity of the soil…turn it by hand at the beginning of the year to aerate it but do not spray it. Most of the time, we let the soil do its job. We only use fertilizers in our nursery program and sometimes just to jumpstart it a bit at the transplant stage. We treat our soil so carefully and the soil treats the plants well in return.
[MV]: On the farm with a grow in the sun, we bring our plants to the level of maturity that we believe will best suit that specific strain. With sativas we only leave those [trichomes] the buds get maybe 50% cloudy, then we take them off. With our OGs, we let them turn quite amber before removing them.
[PB]: Something you noticed specifically about plants grown in the sun in native soil that is different? ;
[SM]: I compare it to some of the premium wines. There are vineyards where they will bottle some of their premium pinots from a particular part of their vineyard and they will say “This is from the northern section of the fourth row”. They get very specific because there are real differences in the soil that affect wine, and I think cannabis is the same. Because we use this natural soil, the flavors definitely stand out.
[PB]: Which strains of marijuana are you most inclined to grow?
[MV]: Our sativas are truly special. I am a big fan of Big Sur Hippie Weed. It is such an ancient plant and such an amazing plant. We try to do that one as much as we can. Mexican Death Sativa, Canguru from Oaxaca. Nigerian tea haze. As for broadsheets [indicas] Love our Triangle Kush, Loompah Headband, Monolith… We’re going to have some exciting New York Hazes coming out, The Manhattan Brown, Pure Cuban Black Haze.
[PB]: What do you think sets Washington weed apart?
[MV]: I think differences are uniqueness, terroir [the “character” a unique growing environment gives a product like wine.] We are definitely a little further south, almost touching Oregon. There’s this good wine country soil, and I don’t think their growing conditions are as good anywhere else.
[SM]: I know of no plant on earth that grows better indoors than in native soil and good outdoor conditions with all the power of the sun. I’m sure cannabis won’t be the first. We look forward to the day when people tend to say “It’s not bad for interior.”
Thanks for talking to PotGuide!
Photo credit: Kiona Farms
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