History-making medical cannabis planting begins

4 December 20
History-making medical cannabis planting begins

Puro has started planting what will be New Zealand’s largest cannabis crop.

Puro is in the process of planting more than 60,000 low-THC cannabis seeds and seedlings at its Kekerengu farm on the Kaikoura Coast.

“This is a massive milestone for our fledgling industry. We’re growing medical cannabis on a scale never before seen in New Zealand,” says Aldridge.

Aldridge says planting on this scale has required Puro to import planting equipment from overseas, including bed-formers and New Zealand’s only specialised cannabis transplanter.

He says it’s a huge relief to be able to get planting given the recent challenges Mother Nature has thrown Puro’s way. 

“It’s rained a lot over the last few weeks, with Kaikoura having about twice its normal rainfall. This, combined with very high winds, has delayed planting by a couple of weeks.”

Aldridge says there have also been challenges associated with operating in such a new and highly regulated industry.

“It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point. Over the last year we’ve been busy applying for and obtaining licenses to carry out research, import seeds, grow seeds at a nursery, and finally, plant them at Kekerengu. Fortunately, all the stars seemed to have aligned and we’ve be able to get the licenses we need to plant before the heat of summer sets in.”

Aldridge says the crop is being grown under organic protocols, with Puro currently in the process of organic certification.

“Very few companies around the world are growing organically at this scale. The fact we’re able to grow following organic protocols is due to our incredible location and the expertise of our team.”

Puro’s cultivation director and global cannabis cultivation expert, Tom Forrest, CF, has worked closely with the Puro team on ensuring the plants have everything they need to thrive. As part of his Churchill Fellowship in 2019, Forrest spent time at 50 commercial growing operations around the world to learn about large-scale cultivation and agronomy, nursery production and processing.

Forrest says Puro is growing some of the world’s premium cannabis.

“Puro’s farm at Kekerengu has the perfect conditions for cannabis agronomy, with pure air, a California-like climate, high levels of UV and a gentle sea spray to ward off pests. There is potential for this site to produce exceptional standards of premium organic cannabis medicines, with unique cannabinoid potency and terpene profiles,” says Forrest, CF.

Aldridge says the first crop of low-THC medical cannabis will be harvested in March, and then sold to pharmaceutical companies and extraction partners.

“There’s been a lot of interest from buyers in New Zealand and around the world about what we’re growing at Kekerengu. This interest will enable us to become one of the first medical cannabis growers in the country to achieve commercial revenues.”

Aldridge says that next year Puro will also seek to make history by becoming New Zealand’s largest indoor grower of medical cannabis at its Waihopai Valley site.
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