A New Zealand medical cannabis cultivator has chosen an odd location for their outside cannabis plantation – the seaside.
Cannabis cultivator Pura has just begun the process of planting their first seaside cannabis crop on New Zealand’s south island. While the majority of medical cannabis is grown inside, Pura will join a small group of companies globally experimenting with outside cultivation.
Outside cannabis cultivation is highly successful when cannabis is grown under the right conditions – but these are rare. Outdoor cannabis needs the right air quality and UV exposure to grow, as well as a viable plot located the right height from sea level. The right seeds are also essential, which the company sourced from a Blenheim nursery.
Pura believes it’s found these conditions in a plot Kēkerengū, a part of New Zealand with the exact latitude south as California’s green triangle. The 1000 hectare Kēkerengū plot has been owned by the Macfarlane family for six generations. The plot previously farmed cows and sheep and will one day hold 10 rugby-fields worth of cannabis.
Pura also chose a plot by the seaside deliberately. According to Puro’s cultivation director Tom Forrest, sea salt spray acts as a “cleaning breeze” for crops, benefiting microbes and bacteria on the leaves of a cannabis plant.
Despite having a scientific backing for choosing the plot, the Kēkerengū farm is still a bit of an experiment, as there is no blueprint to growing medical cannabis in New Zealand. As Pura’s operations manager Winston Macfarlane told RNZ.
There’s no real proven record on how to grow medicinal cannabis. It’s not like going into the grape industry where there’s almost a handbook on how to do it.
Pura will begin testing their crop as early as February as part of a plan to export the cannabis internationally. As New Zealand has strict exporting standards for cannabis the company will be working with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to test the cannabis.
The Kēkerengū plot is due to be harvested in Autumn 2021. The dried cannabis flower will then be sold to pharmaceutical and nutraceutical companies globally.