Over the years, endless debates have erupted among cannabis connoisseurs over which is better: outdoor or indoor.
Grown Rogue has found a way to offer the best of both worlds.
A recent batch of outdoor-grown Monkey Train, a cross between Monkey Balls and Train Wreck, had potentially the highest level of THC ever recorded in the state at 35.13 percent, and the highest level of terpenes at 4.39 percent, according to Green Leaf Lab in Portland.
In addition, the Medford company took top honors for its indoor-grown Electric Dogshit at the 2018 Grow Classic in Eugene, hitting the highest level of THC and terpenes among the 31 top growers who cultivated the same strain of flower.
“In my personal opinion, they’re doing something right there,” said Dave Sagafi, managing editor of Eugene-based Grow Magazine, which hosted the competition.
All the growers in the Grow Classic received clones of Electric Dogshit, and the point of the contest was to see who could coax the highest THC and terpene levels out of the clones.
Grown Rogue managed to tease higher THC and terpene levels than the other growers — 25.68-percent THC, and 2.59-percent terpenes, the natural chemicals that imbue the plant with its scent and flavor. The strain is a cross between Pineapple Punch and Chemdawg 4.
“My own personal preference is the Monkey Train for flavor and effect,” said Noah Cochren-Hawkes, the 29-year-old grower of Electric Dogshit. “I love the flavor of outdoor grown.”
Cochren-Hawkes formerly worked at Grown Rogue’s outdoor farm in Trail and transitioned to indoor growing at the company’s Medford facility over the past year.
Surprisingly, the Monkey Train grew in a somewhat shady spot on the farm, which gave some insight into the growing conditions preferred by this strain.
“The Monkey Train doesn’t like intense heat,” Cochren-Hawkes said.
The grower of the ultra-high THC Monkey Train was Seann Igoe.
Grown Rogue takes a number of different steps from growing to curing that the company believes helps produces more THC and higher terpenes.
Each plant is individually watered, and each grow room is monitored by the same grower to have better control over production.
“I can give individual care to each one,” Cochren-Hawkes said. “It helps with overwatering issues that many growers face.”
Every plant consumes a different amount of water, which is better controlled by hand watering, he said.
In the grow rooms, different lights hanging from the ceiling have different spectrums that can be dialed in to mimic the kind of light plants would receive under the sun, with a more intense light in summer and more subdued light going into fall.
Plants are harvested when THC levels have peaked, or when the trichomes, little hairs that grow on the flowers, turn from clear to 90-percent milky colored. Growers examine the trichomes under a microscope usually starting about six weeks after flowering begins.
“We’re trying to get the optimum THC for the way the market is,” Cochren-Hawkes said.
He said some of the same techniques are used in the outdoor grows.
Many cannabis connoisseurs don’t put that much stock in THC percentages, preferring to sample a flower to find out if it tickles their fancy.
Cochren-Hawkes said he would prefer to let the flowers mature a little longer. Before microscopes were used, growers would often wait until the trichomes were an amber color, though many growers claim that plants harvested earlier produce a more psychedelic high versus later-harvested plants that produce more of a sedative high.
After harvest, the next step is curing the plants, which takes about two weeks at Grown Rogue.
“It’s hard to properly cure at scale,” Cochren-Hawkes said.
The first week or so the plant is air dried in a room that has cedar-lined walls. While the room also has a humidifier, Cochren-Hawkes said the wood walls help pull moisture out of the plants.
Air drying typically takes a week or more, followed by more curing in bags while constantly checking moisture levels.
He said curing properly preserves the terpenes and may also help retain the high THC levels.
“The cure is just as important as the grow,” Cochren-Hawkes said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.