Cannabis Podcast The Hemp Revolution

How an OG in Breadfruit Brings the Best Hemp Varieties to Farmers and Growers With Josh Schneider

Josh Schneider is the Founder and CEO of Cultivaris Hemp LLC, a young plant company based in San Diego, California.

Josh is a relentless innovator, continually searching for opportunities to change the ornamental and agricultural status quo.

Working with plant breeders around the globe gave him a better understanding of domestic and international plant supply chains.

In today’s episode, Josh talks about how he got involved with the largest network of ornamental plant producers, the common issues with cultivation, and how Cultivaris is creating a reliable supply chain, bringing the best hemp varieties to farmers and growers across the country.


Making mistakes is not a problem. It’s making the same mistake over and over again. – Josh Schneider


Download The Episode Companion For This Episode

 

Some Topics We Discussed Include

7:06 – How Josh got involved with plant breeders from the largest network of ornamental plant producers
10:30 – Josh and Garry Gruber started Cultivaris
17:26 – Horticulture: The problem with commercial production
22:41 – Common issues in cultivation and how Cultivaris is helping
30:55 – Focusing on clonal propagation
39:09 – The longterm value of young plants
50:22 – What’s next in the cannabis and hemp industry

People Mentioned / Resources

Connect with Josh Schneider

Connect with Sonia Gomez

Transcript

Sonia Gomez: What’s up, guys? Sonia Gomez, coming to you from Denver, Colorado, on another rockstar episode of The Hemp Revolution Podcast, where we are sharing and telling the real story of cannabis and hemp from the eyes of the entrepreneurs and changemakers who are pushing this forward.

As always if you’re someone looking for printing products or information that you can trust to deliver the results you’re looking for, check us out at medicalsecrets.com and if you are a budding entrepreneur or business owner in the space, I’d love to hear your story. [email protected] is where you can find me and I’ll be looking forward to connecting.

As always guys, I invite you to like and share this content. Tag five people or someone that you believe is going to get benefit from hearing this incredible episode. We are going to be diving into, you know how I do things. Found yet another badass in this industry who is basically just made his sector of the sport or this cannabis craze, his bitch. Not kidding. 

He’s been actually a fearless innovator who is always pushing the boundaries and working to improve upon the status quo, leading a large young plant sales, marketing, and product development team and Early in his career gave Josh a passion for shepherding new ideas.

By the way, our guest’s name today is Josh and that secret’s out. Cats out of the bag on that one, guys. His enthusiasm is really what attracted me to him because I could tell that he had a real passion for fresh ideas and both ornamental and agricultural sectors of the global plant business, which has made him a driver behind countless new products and programs, which I’ll tell you more about in this episode. 

His experience founding and managing the global supply chain for the global breadfruit young plant tropical agricultural division of cultivars. His involvement in building out a reliable supply chain for hemp and his years of work with both ornamental plant breeders around the world gave him a pretty strong understanding of domestic and international supply chains. 

And with 20 plus years of hands-on experience in retail and wholesale international horticulture, Joshua’s focus is to build on the accumulated knowledge and experience in the horticulture industry to reliably bring the best hemp varieties to farmers and growers across the country. 

This is going to be some fun stuff, guys. I’ve been able to dig pretty invasively into his past and find out who he is and what he’s made of in the professional sector. And you guys are definitely going to want to stick around to hear some of his juicy bits. Put your hands together and help me welcome my good friend, Josh Schneider. How’s it going? 

Josh Schneider: Hey, Sonia, doing great. In beautiful San Diego day, from the appropriate social distance from all of our staff and colleagues here at the nursery. 

Sonia Gomez: Super nice I mean, I lived in San Diego for 10 years and a couple of things that I know for sure about that. Number one, it’s hard to keep people inside because there’s so much to do. It’s so close to the beach and there’s never an ugly day in San Diego. And second is, sometimes it’s hard to go outside because it’s hotter than hell down there a lot of the time. So which one is it right now? Is it too beautiful to stay inside? Or is it too hot to go outside?

Josh Schneider: It is definitely too beautiful to stay inside. Our greenhouses, we have seven acres of hemp mother stock plant here in Encinitas, California. And so it’s in San Diego County, but it’s North County right on the coast. So I’m actually looking out the window. The Pacific Ocean from our offices. 

Sonia Gomez:  Oh my god, so pretty. I used to live off of Encinitas Boulevard. 

Josh Schneider: Oh, excellent. Yeah, we’re just of Leucadia.

Sonia Gomez:  Nice. I’ll use And then I also lived off of Poinsettia. 

Josh Schneider: Oh nice. Yes. And that’s we’re actually an interesting story. The reason Poinsettia Boulevard is called Poinsettia is because the Poinsettia was actually developed in Encinitas by the Ecke family, E-C-K-E. Hence the Magdalena Ecke YMCA on Saxony. And the Ecke family made the Poinsettia into an international crop by having the idea that it can be grown as a colorful houseplant. And they actually got it onto the tonight show when it flowered in the winter as a Christmas crop. And so all poinsettias globally became a horticultural crop and everything started here in Encinitas in the 50s. 

Sonia Gomez: Holy shit. How would you like to do that freakin grandma’s grandchild right now?

Josh Schneider: He actually, we are renting some greenhouse space for our overflow at the former Paul Ecke Ranch, down off of Encinitas Boulevard, just a block or so down as it were. And so having come up in ornamental horticulture, Paul Jr. The second generation was a friend and colleague who I worked with very early in my career a very kind and generous man who took a great interest in young people coming up in the industry. 

And when I first met him, he had walked up to me and look skeptically at me. “Who are you and why are you here?” Completely overwhelmed and intimidated, but brief conversation. We found some areas of common interest and he was such a cool guy. He finds clippings in the news for me a little bit and he would highlight with highlighter pens and send them to you and then Mail. And so it always was a real honor when I would get clipping in the mail. 

How Josh Got Involved with Plant Breeders from the Largest Network of Ornamental Plant Producers

I started my career back in Central Illinois. We’re up on a farm in strangely, in horcher. I started a garden center in 1996 when I was 23. And brand that garden center and greenhouse for seven years. And then I took a job in Southern California working for the company Proven Winners, one of the founding partners of that company, Euro American, where I was director of sales and marketing and also ran product development. So that’s what got me into working with plant breeders for what is the largest network of ornamental plant producers growing plants from cutting in the world today. 

Sonia Gomez: So you’re not really that big of a deal. 

Josh Schneider: No, not at all. I’m just the plant nerds who have ADD and so a lot of things interest me. My mother once told me that when I was three, she had to ban me from asking the why because I just exhausted her. She said it was so important that I learned how to read because then I stopped asking why I’m started figuring it out for myself.

Sonia Gomez: Oh my god, I love it. My daughter is three years old right now and I get two things why and no.

Josh Schneider: [laughter] [crosstalk] I was born and so I was the firstborn. And I’m the only boy and I have 71st cousins. My dad is one of 11, so a small family gathering is never quiet and be never includes fewer than 50 people. 

Sonia Gomez: Thanksgiving you’re all renting out. 

Josh Schneider: It’s just impossible for everybody [inaudible] together to have a large family if you don’t have to like everybody at once. 

Sonia Gomez: Yeah, totally. I love it. I love it. I come from a really big family too. You know, lucky for us, Greeks and Argentinians just reproduce. 

Josh Schneider: Very similar. We were German and Irish. And so I always joke that in the seedling population of my dad and his siblings, some of the seedling combinations, combined virtue can be complicated. Issues of ripeness and a low boiling point. 

Sonia Gomez: Similar seeing there can be like four of us in the room, but it sounds like there’s 50 whereas, ladies, there are 50 people in the room but it sounds like there’s four there.

Josh Schneider: Yeah, definitely. Ours is a large and chaotic bunch and everybody’s talking at the same time. It’s a lot like actually the hemp industry right now, where everybody’s talking at the same time, but nobody is really saying very much.

Sonia Gomez: Oh god. Here we go and the good and the solid kickoff for the win on today’s episode. I love it. Okay, you just gave us a little bit of that high level of who you are a little bit of your background and what you’re up to right now. Tell a little bit about cultivars. I want to know more about what you guys are doing. What do you specialize in? What makes you different from other companies out there? 

Josh and Garry Gruber Started Cultivaris

Josh Schneider: Well, I Cultivirs I actually started with two business partners, gosh, 15 years ago, we had sent my colleague Garry Grueber and I and Gary was the person who actually put together and was one of the originators of the Proven Winners Group and he’s an idea guy and really my mentor, who was a really innovative plant breeder and put together the proven winners network globally, worked with breeders and help support them is really an awesome experience to come up with Gary and be able to learn from him.

I always tease them that he’s the international man of horticulture mystery. He speaks like six or seven languages and so you know, like an average American I speak one and Spanish kind if I’ve been drinking. 

But what I learned was how interconnected international horticulture is, and a very few numbers of people actually guide a lot of what goes on and so building a network of people you can collaborate with was critical and supporting the breeders as much as possible and encouraging them and assisting them in selection criteria, giving a market intelligence is how we created a product development machine at Proven Winners. 

So when we started Cultivirs, we wanted to be able to chase ideas that no one else was really thinking about. Or if people were about the systems in place would prevent the idea from really catching on because most horticulture is based around production systems. So you know, kind of along the lines of when you’re a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. 

I wanted to have more of a horticultural and agricultural Think Tank. So, one of the ideas that I got roped into early on when I founded cultivars was this concept of using the technologies and the techniques we had at our disposal, from ornamental plants to do some more in agriculture. 

And so we began working with a crop called breadfruit or Artocarpus altilis that was made famous with Captain Bligh and the Mutiny on the Bounty. I don’t know if you ever remember that story, Sonia. Most people under 40 don’t. 

Sonia Gomez: I do not 

The Breadfruit

Josh Schneider: Okay, Captain Bligh was charged as a captain in the British Navy, going to Tahiti, where Captain Cook had discovered the Tahitian, some years before, because they had this crop that was just extraordinarily productive and useful for so many parts of their lives. And the British at the time needed to feed the slaves on the sugar plantation in the Caribbean. 

Sugar at the time had the kind of economic value today that oil has if that gives you some perspective. And they needed something that would grow and be productive but wouldn’t take up field space. And so breadfruit was native to Tahiti and the South Pacific. And in fact, breadfruit or Ulu, U-L-U, as they call it in Hawaii was actually brought to Hawaii by the Polynesian 5000 years ago in a canoe made of breadfruit wood. 

And so the long and the short of it is one tree can feed a pair of people for half the year for 100 years, calorically. And so my thought was if we could figure out how to scale the propagation of this crop using tissue culture, technology, this could be hugely important to the world. 

And so after three or four years of mostly failure, as all good research and development typically is, you’ve got to fail and learn something from each failure, we cracked it. And so over the last decade, I’ve traveled to 30 countries we planted trees in 52 countries, about a quarter of a million trees, which feed about a million people a day, all over the world and their children. And I helped create the market for breadfruit finished products. 

It’s basically a basketball-sized potato that you can make a gluten-free flour out of. And so my idea was poor farmers in the tropics could make money off of wealthy Americans and Europeans who had developed gluten allergies r gluten intolerant. 

The male flowers from the breadfruit tree contain oil that’s 1000 times more powerful than DEET at repelling insects. The leaves have medicinal benefits, you can make a tea from them, and that will reduce hypertension. Starch in the fruit can be used for industrial uses. It’s very much like hemp where the whole plant is useful and valuable. And so it was a modular economic development tool. 

I mentioned beforehand that I know a lot of epidemiologists, that’s because I was working in Liberia during the first Ebola crisis. I was actually one of the last Americans out because I’d been out in the countryside working with my farm group. And the government wasn’t admitting that Ebola was the problem. And so I wasn’t worried about it until I ran into somebody in Monrovia, who was like, “Who are you and why are you here?” channeling Paul Eckie goes, and when I said, I was just working in development, they said, you need to leave now. This Ebola thing is serious. 

I’ve had some experiences I spent two weeks at the home of the former president of Nigeria, who’s the largest landowner in all of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo. And I’ve had a great opportunity to work with some just extraordinary people around the world. So watch this space as we expand hemp internationally, with many of the farmers that we worked with, and women farm cooperatives all over Africa. We’re going to be starting a hemp project in Zambia later this year, for instance. 

Sonia Gomez: I mean, the stuff that you’re talking about doing it on is like such a mask skit. How do you even build yourself up to that level? And with all of this stuff that you are finding out about these different phenotypes like what’s your end in mind? What do you working to do? 

Horticulture: The Problem with Commercial Production

Josh Schneider: Well, what I learned in horticulture because I started in horticulture in the mid-90s, just as vegetative propagation was coming online, so most of the garden crops were feed predict, but the problem was that the market got bent a little bit backward, where the only thing that mattered was how well the crop grew for the grower. 

By the mid-90s, the quality of plant was less based on how well they perform in the garden, and more how they perform during production. Like a lot of our fruits and vegetables today, why do tomatoes have no taste when you buy them in the store, because they’re bred for commercial production, and that includes post-harvest and supply chain issues. And so the only thing they care about anymore is whether it looks red when it gets to the end of the road, not whether it has any flavor. 

Horticulture went through that and so what Proven Winners did was basically reorder the industry so that how the plant grew for the consumer in their garden was the primary selection criteria and we bent the production model to the needs of the plant. 

Well, creating a vegetative production model for billions of plants to be propagated from cutting had some challenges to it, and probably the greatest challenge. Well, certainly the greatest challenge was logistics but then Federal Express was born. And I’ll come back to that in a second. But the second challenge was viral diseases. And so the virus diseases just decimated crops. 

As soon as people started getting these mass mother stock establishments going, because we didn’t understand how easily viruses are transmitted by insects, and more importantly, the organism that does more harm than good, usually, the human who touches the plant repeatedly. 

So for instance, anyone who smokes cigarettes carries a virus on their skin called tobacco mosaic virus and that virus can be spread quite rapidly and easily just by touch or by your clothes touching any solanaceous crops. So when APA is the family that tobacco is in, and it’s the most susceptible, but most other plant families are susceptible to the tobamo group, as we call it, viruses. 

So through a lot of trial and error, we developed this system that allowed the horticulture industry today to propagate more than maybe 3 billion plants a year from unrooted cutting. Most of that mother stock is held in Central America for North American ornamental plant need. 

And so about a billion and a half cuttings are shipped FedEx, from the farms in Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, up into North America, where they land at a young plant producers facility. are routed. And then they’re shipped on to finish plant growers who grow them into the finished pot and deliver them to retail. 

That complication and so much handling would simply be impossible without virus-free stock. And so we developed a system for using tissue culture to both keep plants free of virus and to eliminate viruses, viroids, Phytoplasmas, a bacterial and fungal infection. Many I mean, you and I both know how much the cannabis industry has gotten a hard-on for issue culture. 

Sonia Gomez: Yeah. Well, that’s actually something I wanted to ask you about. People think that they can just throw a seed into the ground and grow it. Others think that they can snap a clone and they’re off to the races. More advanced people understand that it’s a real skill. And then art to be able to, first of all, create a phenotype, cultivate it, and then harvest it and sell it right? The whole process is actually a lot more intricate than most people understand. 

However, you’re doing something pretty unique and something that most other people don’t know about the health and vitality of a plant. What does it actually take? Or what are some of the challenges that are preventing success for first-time farmers or even legacy farmers who find themselves with rhubarb, like whatever the challenges can be in cultivation? I don’t grow plants by the way. I’m married to a cultivator. 

Common Issues in Cultivation and How Cultivaris Helps

Josh Schneider: The cobblers kids go barefoot. Yes, I am incredibly familiar with that. Well, I’ll tell you. One of the things that I think is challenging in cannabis broadly and hemp as well is that there’s a lot of bro-science out there and there’s a lot of opinions based on experience over many years of clandestine growing. 

And so because the culture of THC cannabis has been so quiet and secretive, people have had to learn through trial and error. My trial and error are 20 years of shipping 50 million plants a year, rooted from tissue cultured cutting. You learn real fast what works and what doesn’t. And it affects your bottom line very critically. 

And so, what we do is tissue culture, first of all, is simply a tool. There is no magic that comes with putting a plant in tissue culture and taking it out. That is especially when about 90% of the labs claiming to do tissue culture are doing nodal tissue culture. 

Nodal tissue culture or putting a cutting of plant plants in vitro is about as effective as keeping your plants in a 20-gallon aquarium in a terrarium setting. There’s no difference just in form, but not in function.

The thing that is useful about tissue culture is the ability to harvest non-vascular tissue via the meristem, the uppermost growing points of the plant, there’s a little blob of cells inside there that are unconnected to the rest of the plant. Maybe Think of it as like stem cells. 

And so when that is harvested, it’s smaller than the size of a grain of salt. And so that’s harvested in vitro, put in it’s harvested, excised off the upper growing point of the plant, and put in a petri dish where sometimes it grows, hopefully, if you’re good, and this is a little more of the arts and the science, but once someone gets good at doing meristem attic regeneration, you have to run through that process multiple times. And that can often eliminate viruses because they haven’t gotten into those cells yet. 

So we grow those plants on and we renew our stock multiple times a year from those tissue cultured plants. And that means we start with what we call a super-elite block of mother stock. And what that block of mother stock does is it allows you to take cuttings and establish all of your other mother plants off of those plants from tissue culture so that you know that the plant is starting out clean. 

Now, of course, we have high-level hygiene protocols for working in the greenhouse. Tool sanitation is hugely, hugely, hugely important. But of course, I have a group of ladies who I have worked with for 20 years harvesting cutting who have this down to a science and so the ladies here at Cultivirs hemp, take between 8 and 12 cutting an hour.

Sonia Gomez: Do you sell the starts?

Josh Schneider: We do. So we root the young plant. So what I did was again, I dealt based off what I knew in ornamental horticulture. I’ve been in cannabis for years now. And what I learned is that some of the checkpoints or the choke points really are logistics, logistics, and logistics. And because of the stupidity of our THC cannabis laws, there’s lots of duplication, but with hemp, we don’t need that. So I have experienced young plant propagators across the US. 

So I ship unrooted cuttings, for instance, to my rooting station in Michigan, or my rooting station in Tennessee, and they root the cutting in a young plant facility that was built for young plant production in ornamental that is empty this time of year. But these are people I’ve worked with for 20 years who know what they’re doing. They know how to put routes on a plant. They have their own truck, and they can get the plants to the farmers. 

So this seems much more sensible to me than trucking young plants across the country. And so it saves on freight, it saves on damaged plants. And it makes certain and this is what’s really critical about clean stocks. It makes certain that the farmers start the season with a crop that is free of all relevant and economically damaging diseases. 

Because if you start with a clean plant, even if you get infected with the virus. Everybody was all had their dresses up over their heads about beet curly top virus, but that wasn’t caused by leafhoppers running through the field. That was dirty material that was held over in the US, in states that had a lot of sugar beet production, which meant that during the course of the season, the hemp plants were contaminated infected with beet curly top virus. And then people held that stock over the winter and did their own propagation off of it. So that meant that they actually started out with plants that were virus-infected. And then as soon as they got any stress, the virus manifests. 

Just like with COVID-19. When you’re young and healthy, you’re much less susceptible to these diseases. But if you’re immunocompromised, and that’s really what a plant infected with a virus is, it’s an immunocompromised plant that can be directly damaged. 

So there’s no virus that can infect your crop in the field that will kill it that same season. And so to me, this is such a critical piece, I tried to look at what I could do to be maximally impactful in the hemp industry, and it was in creating a supply chain of pathogen index, virus-free, well-grown young plants that farmers could trust would do what they were told or what was expected of them over the course of the season.

So, I took what we learned in ornamental clean stock production, from so many virus outbreaks and catastrophic crop dumps. And I built on that for the hemp industry. And that’s what cultivars hemp does in addition to educating and supporting our farmers. Our primary goal is high-quality pathogen-free young plants. 

Sonia Gomez: I love it. And how many can you produce at one time or do you have the capacity for like– Are you serving primarily small farmers under five acres or is it 10 acres plus? Can you serve 100 acres or more? How does that go? 

Josh Schneider: We can with seven acres of mother stock. I can produce 40 to 60 million young plants this season before the first of July.

Sonia Gomez: Oh, my God. And I mean, it’s just so crazy. I love it. What’s the difference? Let me ask you this because I think a lot of people are buying like bags and bags of seeds and throwing them out there and wishing for the best. There’s also some pretty incredible breeders out there who are making this the same claims. There’s incredible brokers out there who have a network of breeders who are doing incredible things. How does young plant versus seed differ? What would you say would be the biggest difference? 

Focusing on Clonal Propagation

Josh Schneider: Well, I’d say that, having worked for 20 plus years on plant breeding program across 50 different genera, 60 different genera. I have never seen through that parent lines in less than a decade on any crop. And so the challenge is in order to have, first of all, the hemp, the cannabis genome is just a multifaceted, extraordinary thing. And so the diversity genetically behind the plants that we see is so vast, it means it’s a blessing and a curse. It means that so many things are possible through breeding that we can’t even imagine today. 

But it also means that because of that diversity, it’s harder to create trued up parent line. And so, if you have not been line-breeding, in-breeding, your mother lines, your parent lines for 10 years, at least you’re not going to have a really reliable seedling population, there’s still going to be a lot of diversity. 

And as an example, one of my good friends and colleagues that I just adore, decided to do some hemp breeding and so he brought in a reputable line of hemp from seed, he feminized part of it, and now he’s sitting on 30 million seed. Well, I saw the pheno expression on the parent line. And I wouldn’t touch that crop with a 10-foot pole. There’s at least 15 different phenos when they were harvesting seed, at least 20% of the plants were just starting to flower. 

And so the challenge of inconsistent seed is that a) you’re going to have crops when people are half halfing it like that inbreeding. You can’t just sell a plant and expect it to produce more like it. And so if I sell, for instance, Blue Dream and make 20,000 seeds of the Blue Dream, a fairly large percentage of those seedlings will actually express high CBD characteristics. 

And by the same token, and I’ll tell you this as somebody who from my– I had a friend who made a bunch of cherry wine cells, and something like 30% of those the first generation with high THC. So, because the crop doesn’t breed true, to me, unless you’re working with a really good seed breeder who’s been doing this for a long time, who’s really worked to true up Parentline. It is literally like the Forrest Gump box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

Sonia Gomez:  [laughter] He threw that in there. you have a little swag in you, huh?

Josh Schneider: I mean, I just get so frustrated because we were at a show in Palm Springs and somebody came up and my staff is a little more reserved than I am. And this guy says, oh, we’re going to do the breeding. And I just interrupted their conversation and said, “Oh, do you have experience in breeding? How long have you been breeding?” “Oh, we’re just getting started.” I said, “Have you ever bred any plants before?” “No, but it’s super easy. You got a guy who told us what we need to do.” And we can do at least 10 million seeds. And I said, “Where are you getting your genetics?” “Oh, we just bought some stuff off the internet.” 

And I said, what you’re doing is not just wrong, and stupid. It’s going to damage the industry, and you’re going to get sued. Because I said it is wrong to tell people that you know what’s in the bag when you don’t.

The reason I focus on clonally propagated young plants is because that is the thing, in my opinion, that is required for the hemp industry to get ahead. Farmers need to not be afraid that a third of the crop is going to be hot. It’s the old Dirty Harry question. And this is this will be dating myself but dirty hair used to say if he held a gun in somebody’s face. “Do you feel lucky today?” 

And that’s what, in my opinion, so much of what’s going on in seed breeding with all these amateur breeders that are half asset, they are gambling with their farmer’s lives and I find that unconscionable. Unconscionable. And now everybody is running out because they’re so confused by the USDA and the delays, people aren’t booking a lot yet. And so everybody’s cutting their prices. It shows how much they value their crop. But guess what, with all the price tests, they’re not selling. And so it goes back to, I think it was either John Glenn or one of the other early astronauts, said, “As I sat here on this multi-ton machine built by the US government, I realized that every part was provided by the lowest bidder.”

Sonia Gomez: God that just gave me chills in my all over everything. 

Josh Schneider: So I mean, you know what I mean, I work with farmers all over the world. Thousands and thousands of farmers. I grew up in flat and boring Central Illinois with lovely people who I– I grew up in a rural farm town that did corn and beans mainly. Some livestock but corn and beans. And so I’m unwilling to gamble with someone else’s future. And that’s what these amateur seed breeders are doing. 

And so it’s not just about price. It’s about value and peace of mind. And so along those lines, I work with a lot of idea-driven people who are developing products that help provide peace of mind for the hemp farmer. So we’re looking at some other time we’ll talk about some of these exciting products or I’ll connect you with the people who have developed them so you can share them with your listeners. 

It's not just about price. It's about value and peace of mind. - Josh Schneider Click To Tweet

I’m an idea-driven guy but I believe for the hemp industry to work, it has to be functional. The farmers have to have predictability. They have to be able to know what they’re going to get. And right now with the majority of the seed that’s out there, you don’t know what you’re going to get. And so you have to ask yourself, what it’s worth to have peace of mind?

I'm an idea-driven guy but I believe for the hemp industry to work, it has to be functional. - Josh Schneider Click To Tweet

Sonia Gomez: It’s such a good question. And I think, again, there’s so many misconceptions, you’re outlining them so, so well. So, I want to ask you a different question because you’ve done a really good job outlining really clearly what the challenges are for the hemp farmer and why you’re so deeply connected to that. 

So let’s do a price comparison because there’s really key considerations when you’re looking at getting into the industry deciding whether or not you’re going to plant again after your first year or three years then you’re so far and like why would you get out now right like you either have established a good business for yourself or you haven’t. 

So, I’d love to just discuss the price comparison because you see prices on the internet for hemp seeds from quote-unquote good sources and their price. Their pricing is ranging anywhere from 40 cents to, you know, $1.10 What does a young plant clone cost? 

And compared to the seed, what’s the value of its long term? Obviously, it’s the peace of mind. But what could that mean? Depending on the size of your farm or if you decide to take a young plant versus a seed, what is the financial output that you can expect in the end if you do everything right?

Long Term Value of Young Plants

Josh Schneider: I think that so much of that depends, but I think some of the factors to consider are, for instance, auto flower, auto flower, good auto flower seeds are quite reliable, because the parent lines have had to be trued up, but I’ve seen a lot of autoflower that kind of more autoflowerish. And I find ish-ness something that in a young industry is it makes people run the other way. 

I mean, basically, what I learned starting out with breadfruit were the young plants that we sold were $10 apiece. But for a tree that produces starting in 14 months for 100 years, that’s a good bargain. Of course, it’s not something that your average farmer in Africa could afford. But I was told that only an insane person tries to create a whole new supply chain for a crop that nobody’s ever heard of, and hasn’t been grown anywhere in 200 years, other than the novelty or to feed a bunch of people on a small Pacific Island. 

So I got to be kind of an OG in breadfruit. And learn what it takes to establish your crop and establish your market for the byproduct. And so that’s kind of how I’m approaching hemp. Price is only one consideration. The question is what does each thing contribute to your success? So, a good seed line for a small farmer that can monitor the crop you have to think about finding males. Feminization rates range from 90% to 99.5 or 6%. But how many males you’re going to have and herms you’re going to have depended on how much you plant.

So this is where I call it the Amelia Earhart rule. Amelia Earhart, it didn’t so much matter that her calculations and instruments were off flying from New York to Washington DC. But flying from Tokyo to Honolulu, when your instruments are off, can really screw you as the historical record indicates. So, if your farm is in New York to DC trip, you can afford a little more chaos, because you can monitor it more closely. 

But how well, can a few people monitor 10 or 20 acres of hemp? Especially if you’re a first-time grower who doesn’t know what a male looks like. Who doesn’t know what a Herm looks like? Who doesn’t know what things should look like? So to me, there’s gamble number one, with the seed. If it’s an autoflower crop, it either needs to be sown in the field, or it needs to go into a plug and be quickly put into the field. It cannot get root down or it flowers right away. 

So the questions are, what are the chances the farmer is going to have delayed planting? Are all the plants coming at the same time? Where are you going to put them? Do you have a way to transport them to the various fields where they need to be planted? Is there a way to water them once they’re there? Or is the irrigation all in the field? 

So you got 1000 trays of young plants either from seeds or cuttings and you don’t have any way to water them. You’re not going to get them all planted in an hour. And so these are the logistical questions you have to ask yourself. The question is you’re going to pay somebody to germinate your seeds for you, that’s going to be a cost. 

I mean ornamental horticulture it would cost 25 cents. But you know, everybody’s picking margin on hemp growers because there’s margin available. So the average person is going to pay maybe $1 to new people who are paying $2.50 and $3 per cell, per seed to get it terminated last year. 

On the young plant side, so just a quick nomenclature thing. I use the term young plants. I’m a little pedantic about this. The term clone is a scientific term that is a nomenclature term. It is more specific. You have genus, species, variety, then clone. So clone is the most specific. So, I don’t use the term clone as a noun. I use the term young plant or liner and a young plant can be a liner grown from cutting, or it can be a plug grown from seed. And so just housekeeping anal retention.

A clonally propagated young plant is you know what you’re getting. It’s genetically nearly identical to all the other siblings of cuttings in the process. Yes, there’s a little mutation, but you’ve got predictability. There’s more actual experience with this actual variety. Don’t get me started on poor naming protocols in the industry, we’re going to fix that. As God as my witness Miss Scarlet style. I am going to beat people into doing this, right? Because you can’t recreate across by just recreating the cross. 

Simply selfing cherry wine does not make more cherry wine. And that’s bullshit, bro-science. That is not true. And this is I make fun of bros a lot. And it’s not so much the specific bros as it is the bro mentality or the bro verse, I talk about how we are the Brosetta Stone. And we love these [unintelligible] guys who are so excited about what they’re doing. But the problem is with a lot of bro knowledge, it’s not that the bros don’t know anything, it’s just so much of what they know isn’t actually true. 

And so the challenge is for people to understand what they’re doing. Getting in the process and a young plant from a cutting, from a cost standpoint, I mean, I’ve seen people selling them for a $1.50, I would ask, “how clean is your stock? How are you virus testing? What are your hygiene protocols?” Because those are all things that contribute. 

Good Hygiene in the GreenHouse

I know one company that did everything from tissue culture, and then reinfected everything with the virus when they got it out of the lab because they didn’t have good hygiene in the greenhouse. They weren’t sterilizing tools because the bros are like, “yeah, I’ve never sterilized my tools in the past and I’ve never had a problem.” 

Well, I’ve never socially isolated before and I’ve never had a problem. Times, they are changing kids. And what I mentioned on the clean stock side with ornamental plants, what happened was when everybody started doing self-propagation as vegetative plants became popular, people started holding of their stock. And the movement of plants increases the movement of pathogens. 

Just like when the Spanish settled North America, they brought with them the diseases and the movement back and forth carry diseases more efficiently everywhere. So what we have to focus on is looking at risk reduction in the choice of young plants. And so if you’ve got a high aptitude for risk and a high tolerance for risk, you’ve got a lot of people that can dig through the fields making sure there’s no boys or Herms in the field, and you can manage the variability that most certainly comes with many or most seed crops of hemp. God bless you. Let your burden be your calling, go for it. 

But for people that want more predictability, more consistent and uniformity, who people who aren’t wanting to gamble with the compliance test coming off of the wrong plants, because there’s so much variability, I have a friend here in San Diego County who his crop tested at 0.31 and the county ordered destruction even though the margin of error for the testing lab was substantially higher. There was a lot more room, the lab considered it a passing crop because they round down from 0.35, but the county considered anything over point three a failure. And so with seed crops, it depends on which plant you choose. 

So I think that price range of like $2 to $6 for a well-grown young plant, and the $1.25 to $5 for a seed-grown crop depending on you know, everybody’s all excited about CBG this year because they think it’s going to save them from the compliance base. But you know, who knows what the CBG market will be like when everybody and their brother is growing it?

Sonia Gomez: Well, that’s the thing. I was just going to ask you. That’s the next thing, right? I believe that hemp, in particular, is going to go through its ingredient, sort of Mayhem and we’re going to continue to see this hockey stick type growth. With each one of these cannabinoids was like two and a halfing on a list of what 300 plus so I feel like we’re gonna have a pretty significant like the lifespan of this industry is going to be pretty significant. 

We’re gonna watch probably by the third round. Right now CBN and CBG are the big ones pretty soon. It’s going to be the plant assets once they figure out the best way to use it as juicing. And I think we’re going to continue to see this sort of roller coaster ride of industry growth and development. What should people be watching out for and how can they get in touch with you if they want to work with you? 

What’s Next in The Cannabis and Hemp Industry

Josh Schneider: Well, they can certainly go to my website cultivarishemp.com. So, the name cultivars come from the Latin word cultivar, which stands for cultivated variety. It’s an abbreviation. Yes, Latin has an abbreviation. It basically represents my brain of culture. There’s a lot going on in there. And so when you look for cultivars, or just add an is in the end, Google it, you’ll get to one of our websites. 

But I think you’re exactly right where we’re really in, I call it the flavor of the month stage of the industry, where everybody got involved because the ridiculous numbers that were being on last year, were based out much available. Then everybody in their brother grew a boatload of CBD. And surprise, the price drops when the market flood. 

Then, farmers love to put on the hair shirt and catastrophize so it’s like, oh my god, this is not gonna work. I think you’re gonna see just like you mentioned, you’re going to see a lot of churning, it’s true. The key is for people to do the work in advance on where their crop is going to go. 

The key is for people to do the work in advance on where their crop is going to go. - Josh Schneider Click To Tweet

I don’t think anybody should be stuck on 10 or 28 acres. If you’ve got a place for it or if you’re vertically integrated, and guys who have who only did 2500 plants [unintelligible] pre roll business. I know a lot of service industry folks that I’m friends with are jumping on board selling smokeable CBD pre-roll. Because right now, if you’re in the service industry, what else can you do? 

But I think that there’s also going to be some big changes coming from the supplements industry. I work closely with an organization called AHPA which is the American Herbal Products Association. Because of all my plant nerdery, I’ve been working in supplements for a while helping people find different plants for research, medicinal use, pharmacopeia, the study of a culture’s medicinal plant. 

And so the AHPA group, it’s the scientific backbone of the supplements industry. If the FDA, and it’s looking good that they might, if the FDA gets off the dime, and categorizes CBD, or hemp as a dietary supplement that will open billions and billions of dollars of purchasing power, that is going to suck up every last bit of leftover CBD, the moment the FDA gets the green light. 

The problem is the supplements companies don’t want to invest and give shelf space to a product that may be ruled illegal by bureaucratic whims. And so that’s part of the reason why I’ve been engaged in advocacy in DC. The group that I work with, helps get the stupid DEA rule knocked back. And we actually helped write the questions that Sonny Perdue got grilled with last week and the week before when he was before the House, the Senate, where he basically said the DEA had hijacked the whole rulemaking process, and he wasn’t quite sure why or how, you know, in generating conference confidence in the Trump administration’s handling a rulemaking at every turn. Christ on a bike.

So, some of these things are necessary. Farmers have to get involved in the political process. They have to pressure the Farm Bureau. They need to pressure their congressmen and senators, and certainly the people at the state and county level. 

For instance, in California, all hemp policy is basically enforced at the county, you’ve got 58 agriculture commissioners who report to the county board of supervisors who do all the enforcement. And yet many people were not to engage with their county supervisors, even though that’s like the easiest level to provide pressure and guidance and education, to help make the county more knowledgeable and they’re shaping the rule. 

So I think that we’re going to have to age much more in the regulatory structure to make sure we have something favorable for the industry that still holds people to accountability. But I think especially the USDA, and FDA positions really critically matter, and if the FDA like I said will categorize this as a dietary supplement, I know, many, many supplement companies that are just waiting for that moment to pull the trigger. 

And so we’re working to connect to our customers, with the people we know in the supplement industry that wants to partner with farmers. We want to help connect with our customers, to people who will buy their product before they plant. Because to me, that’s what farming should be. It should not be a tractor based trip to Las Vegas or Atlantic City. 

Sonia Gomez: I agree. I mean, there’s literally no rebuttal that I have to that because it’s really well-articulated. And I think that it’s really I think that it’s important for people of all different levels with all different levels of experience to bring in both their questions and their critical thinking, as well as sharing the milestones, sharing what their experience has brought them to the About the landscape. 

I think this industry needs to be collaborative in order for us to be [unintelligible]. You can tell how mature that this industry is not. That’s a nice way of saying it right? We’re a very immature industry because there’s still so much ego wrapped up in it. 

Josh Schneider: Yeah.

Sonia Gomez: You can tell folks are desperate. Instead of asking what can I bring? What value can I bring, the modus operandum is what can I get? So often is all the question that you feel like you’re avoiding, but you know, is definitely the underlining is like, What’s in it for me, right?

And so that’s really, really tough. And I’m super excited and really grateful that I have had such success with this podcast because in a lot of ways this podcast, the hemp revolution, has sort of leveled the playing field and given an offer an opportunity for entrepreneurs and business owners to showcase who they are as people, talk about their brands and businesses, but more so expose who the people are behind the products and brands that we’re growing to love and getting to know. 

And I think it’s really important for us to continue to be again, collaborative and sharing the things that we you know, what are the challenges? How are they affecting us as business owners? What are the challenges of the industry but also for me as a business owner, and more importantly, what are those pieces of wisdom or what are the words of wisdom that we can share with one another that allows us to feel that collaborative effort towards excellence in this new industry?

While we are a self-governing agency or while we are a self-governing industry, we have to be the agents of change and set the bar higher than it has been set before, so that we can operate at a different level and create an impact that we have not yet seen that this industry as a standalone is capable of producing in multiple sectors. 

Whether it be industrial industry or for looking at construction or whatever it is, we really have an opportunity if done correctly to change and transform the way that we live in the world. But it’s a delicate balance and the longer that the ego is disrupting progress, we are going to continue to see problems I think.

Josh Schneider: I agree 100%. This is why you need a follow-up podcast for the [unintelligible]. We need more ego death.

Sonia Gomez: Yeah.

Josh Schneider: I agree and I mean, I’m so excited at the potential, and get potential is what excites me in any new sector or idea but I think that the industry has farmers by nature are collaborative, they’re not secretive. They [inaudible] the coffee shop in the morning. I worked in politics and when you want to meet farmers you go to the coffee shops in the morning early because that’s where they are telling stories, talking about problems they’re having, listening to people that have ideas their solution

If you’ll indulge me in one more little axiom I tell my farmers that I’m going to spray them down with bropelants when they buy a plant because [crosstalk] I had so many farmers this last year who got a nervous feeling like they didn’t know enough and so they brought in a bro who didn’t know shit. Some of these guys couldn’t have found their ass with two hands in a map and they ruined the crop. Stupid, stupid thing, like spraying sulfur to deal with Russet mites. 

Stop listening to somebody who's grown in a garage and call a company that specializes in that. - Josh Schneider Click To Tweet

Stop listening to somebody who’s grown in a garage and call a company that specializes in that. And so what does spraying sulfur do? Maybe it has minor anti-feeding benefits. So minor has to be statistically negligible. However, what it certainly does is it keeps you from being able to use a horticultural oil for at least three weeks. And so that kind of stupidity or they paid 10 grand to have some jackass come in and give them all this counter-intuitive advice. And then it actually did damage to their crop. 

And so one of the things that I think is so valuable about what you’re doing, and people like Tad Hussey and others, Suzanne Wainwright as in the bug lady, one of my favorite. These are people that are providing solid, real scientific, and data-driven information sources for farmers. 

And this is so important because the bro-verse also needs this. Most of the bros that I work with, they want to learn what we know in scaled production. They want to learn what the farmers know. And so my most effective and successful farmers and bros are the ones that work together. Where you’ve got a farmer who knows the agronomic and process and scheduling and accounting, and a bro that knows the plants and what it looks like when it’s happy and what the pests and disease issues are. It’s not always great at treating them. But I think this is the key if we’ve got to share our knowledge and information because a rising tide lifts all boats and we cannot afford to be out floating on the lake trying to shoot everybody else’s boat down. 

We’ve got to work together and make sure that we’re doing this right and learning from each other’s mistakes. Making mistakes is not a problem. It’s making the same mistake over and over again, that begins to leave people wondering if you’re not. And that’s as an industry, we’ve got to raise the bar, and constantly be seeking to improve and look for innovators to get behind, but also be willing to stop and help our neighbor or friend along and share what we know. And so that’s kind of my approach. 

No one has to be dangerous about a lot of stuff but I know a lot about production agriculture. And that’s what I’m trying to do right now and cultivars are building a platform of agricultural innovation on a foundation of hemp. 

There are other crops that I think will grow beautifully with hemp, and we’re looking at doing some work and some of those as well. I want to make hemp, the super crop that adds value to everybody who touches it. I think that this is like 1776 and we’re the founding fathers and mothers of this new industry. And we need to be mindful of the historical moment we’re in. And we need to be mindful of the responsibility and obligation that sits on our shoulders today to get this right for the future of the industry. 

Sonia Gomez: Mic drop, Mic drop. And furthermore, there’s nothing more. So well said really, really, really well said, and I’m really enjoying our conversation. Can’t wait to make everybody jealous of our collaboration, because that’s going to happen. Sorry, not sorry. Yeah

Post-Corona craze, the only thing that changes, I just said this but I’m going to say it again. It’s my new thing and I’m going to if I can put it on the T-shirt and a hat both, okay? The only thing that changes more often than the cannabis industry is the corona industry. 

Josh Schneider: It is really crazy. It’s such a strange situation and it creates such a strange feeling of impending doom. And that is so, I was thinking about this weekend, my daughter and I were out doing some work in the garden. We were talking about this and I said, you know, it’s such a strange vibe right now of darkness. But I said I’m working in this industry that’s so full of potential and excitement and pent up desire to get going again. And so the juxtaposition of that dark cloud of Coronavirus hanging over us with raining question markdown on what’s next. 

I think we really have to, [crosstalk] Yeah, it’s rare that I missed an opportunity to quote a Bible verse in a speech just because I think the Bible has some beautifully written passages and I grew up in a very religious family. And so we spent a lot of time in the summers translating, Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic. So our minds would quote stay sharp according to my dad.

There’s the adage I think, from the [unintelligible] “whatsoever things are true and have a good report, think on those things.” And that’s, that’s how I’ve been kind of coping, I get out into the greenhouse. And like I said, we’ve got seven acres of mother plants. So you can go soak up the sun and the plants. The smell in their happiness and growth. 

And I try and talk more about the possibilities in the market. And what we’re going to do once we get past this, and I don’t mean to de-emphasize or denigrate how critically important it is for people to, to behave and protect themselves and their loved ones, but I think that once this passes, we are on the cusp of an absolute tidal wave of innovation and agricultural profitability that we have not seen in 100 years. So I’m certainly excited about that.

Sonia Gomez: Can’t help I congratulate you for the incredible business that you have right now, and the impact that you’re making for both farmers and the customers, right, better phenos each equal, better product in the end? So I appreciate that very much. And since you’re not really that big of a deal in the world, I don’t really have to say much more about you. 

No, no, seriously, it’s a real honor to have you on the show. And I’m, again, grateful for the work that you have done and arguing in the world. It shows up everywhere, and most of us get to take advantage of it. So I appreciate that and serious about the opportunity to collaborate. I think it’s going to be a good one. 

I always allude to stuff like that some of my best joint ventures and some of my best business partners and best friends are coming up this podcast so rock on to the friends and family in the Medical Secrets community in The Hemp Revolution Community. You guys make every day worth it. So thank you for following this incredible episode and this incredible journey that we’re on here. What are some last words that you have my friend? 

Josh Schneider: Well I just want to say thank you to you, Sonia for allowing me to drop by and be part of your family. It’s exciting to share what I know and learn what you have and hear how great it is for you to get the word out and your community to help educate, inspire and encourage them and so I’m just really grateful to have the opportunity to talk with you and I look forward to figuring out what’s next.

I think you have one of my teams on again soon. Chance, who’s just fantastic. He is one of my favorites in the bro verse because he speaks bro and science. And he’s just a great guy who’s so much fun to talk to. He’s got a lot of experience growing hemp in the field. And he also has cannabis experience. He’s the guy who actually brought us the smokeable flower program with one of our breeders purple Mesa, whose family was the first company to get involved in hemp in the US. 

And so his good friend, Bo Billings, gave us a group of varieties out of his genetic portfolio that is just an absolutely gorgeous flower that it has the kind of bag appeal that has been well-known and expected on the THC side but is rather rarer on the hemp side. So you know programs like that and connections and people like that.

I actually met Chance through Instagram. So it’s an amazing thing when we talk to each other. Most of the world today is either self-selecting for people that exclusively agree with us, especially about politics [inaudible] electronics, and I think that this opportunity to talk and have a conversation and share ideas and knowledge is a gift. And I so appreciate being able to be a part of it. So thank you so much for having me. 

Sonia Gomez: Yes, you’re absolutely welcome. Hey guys, those of you who are tuning in, all of the social media handles websites and honorable mentions will be listed right here around this episode. Make sure that you check out the websites, follow along with what’s going on with Josh and I will tell you what, guys, you never cease to amaze me because you guys have liked and shared content just like this one. Because you have tagged people that you believe will benefit from hearing this information, we have been able to impact over 200 million people around the world in the last three years. 

We are quite literally transforming the way that people are thinking about and talking about cannabis/hemp in their families and communities. And so I invite you now to like and share this episode. And make sure that you tag those people that you want to make a difference in their life, or how they think about or talk about cannabis in their families and communities. 

If you’re someone looking for products, check us out at medicalsecrets.com for some of our favorite picks. We’ve pre-vetted every one listed and if you are a business owner or budding entrepreneur in the space, I’d love to hear your story. Shoot me an email, [email protected], and I’ll be excited to connect. I’m your hostess with the mostess Sonia Gomez and this is the Hemp Revolution. We’ll see you on our next show, guys.

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