Kynd Cannabis Company and Mynt Cannabis Dispensary - Part 2
Text Oliver X
Mark Pitchford – CEO Kynd
Michael Rognier – Head Grower
Stacy Castillo – Operations Manager
Scott Dunseath – Partner Kynd/Mynt
Running a state-of-the-art grow facility is a huge undertaking. The are major systems to install, monitor and maintain, large vats and lines for water filtration, pH and carbon dioxide levels to watch, nutrient lines to run, lighting systems to install, containment and temperature controls, power issues, plus emergency and redundant systems. Security cameras must be installed and all the structural issues have to be factored in involving scaling the business to meet future demands for space, occupancy and efficiency. It quite literally is a full-time job to operate such a facility properly.
The Kynd Cannabis Company warehouse is located in an industrial district near the train tracks in one of seldom visited outreaches of nearby Sparks. Company CEO Mark Pitchford has 25 years of experience in all aspects of the industry and knows his way around a build out of this magnitude. Pitchford and his exceptionally knowledgeable team, which includes Operations Manager Stacy Castillo and Head Grower Michael Rognier, among others, were gracious enough to allow a small army of RTT reporters and staffers (RTT Co-Founder Shirley Larkins, intern Gabriela Denne, myself and organic grower guru “Skinny”) to tour the Kynd operations where their medicinal cannabis products are hatched, cloned, grown and made into all manner of dabs, salves, oils, vape pens, edibles and much more.
In nearly three hours of taped interviews, RTT looked at each grow unit, drying room and laboratory on the grounds. In an attempt to do a thorough job of covering the business, we've embarked on a series of features that will take us step-by-step through every stage of cultivation and production. Here in part two of the series, we look at the mother room and how a clone or cracked seed makes it through the growth cycle.
First Stage Mother Room
Mark Pitchford: Our tour starts here in the mother room where everything begins. We do all hydroponics here except for a little bit of dirt for our mothers. The dirt mothers are on the right. We don't clone off those too much. But when we do clone off of those things, we put them in hydroponics they grow really fast and really big at that point. And then we clone off the hydroponics for about four months. Then we drop back and redo it from soil so we stay with the same phenotype. So we stop drifting.
Oliver X: How many different mother stains are in here?
Mark Pitchford: What do we have, 25?
Michael Rognier: There's 15-17 in here currently, but we're working on another 15. So probably about 30 in the next couple months here.
Skinny: Do you crack your seeds here, or do you get clones from someone else.
Michael Rognier: We do everything here. Here's some new stuff we just tried. We've been popping these the last couple weeks.
Oliver X: Are these labeled?
Michael Rognier: Yes, we've got some Alien Rift, some OB1OG; we've got some Bewitched, Dark Helmet and next door we've got some new CBD strains we're trying as well. We've got about three or four new CBDs coming out.
I ask Michael about their grow system for their new young clones.
Oliver X: What is this substrate here is it a sponge of nutrients? What is the medium you're using here?
Michael Rognier: It's just rock wool. And then we have a three part system of proprietary nutrients. A lot of these are unfeminized so they go through a sexing process through veg and then we will usually flower them. And then within the first weeks if you have any doubts whether they're male of female they show what they are.
Skinny: So do they get cut down to 12 and 12 somewhere else than here in this room?
Mark Pitchford: So with hydroponics what we do is we keep flipping it from system to system, so that the water systems that it goes into is completely sterilized and clean. If you were to keep a hydroponic system from A to Z in its cycle, you have a tendency to get water borne pathogens. Pythium is the main one we want to avoid here. You get a pythium in a system and it's like a cancer that spreads throughout the building. It goes into the genes of the plant. You clone that plant, put it into a clean system and you still have pythium and it passes it on. The trick with hydroponics is to take it from one system to the other and keep flopping it. Every room is its own air system, so contaminants cannot breed if we get an airborne problems. We do not spray anything here unless we have an issue.
Michael Rognier shows us a seed that just popped last night.
Michael Rognier: He may need help by the end of the day.
Oliver X: What kind of help?
Michael Rognier: Just slowly peeling away that shell. Something that I learned popping seeds (and I can't remember the name of these first two leaves that start with a “c”), those are the only two leaves that don't have ripples and look like a cannabis leaf. And their sole purpose is to pop that shell open. Once they pop the shell, they just yellow and die.
Mark Pitchford: So, that's the first stage mother room. All the controls are done so each individual room is completely sealed all the way down to the electrical outlets which have fire caulking so they don't breathe. Once the plants come out of the one inch cube area they come into a four inch cube. This is the first stage where they're coming into a little bit different light. This is their hardest part, so we give them some special nutrients which are like Valium. The transition from room to room is always tough for the plants. The plants that have leaves that are drooping are taking it harder than the plants that are standing more upright and leaning to the light.
Skinny: Are these plants destined for terp and oils or for flower?
Mark Pitchford: We try to raise up our cannabinoid profiles for everything. So if you have high profiles, it works better on the lab side once we come out of the ass end of the machine. Any of those profiles we're trying to get up as high as we can.
Skinny: What do you shoot for roughly?
Mark Pitchford: Each strain is a little bit different. THC is a big thing in Nevada right now because people aren't really educated on the profiles. You could have a 15% THC plant with a higher profile and somewhere else it's going to get you “higher” than something with 30% THC. That's something we're going to be working on with education over the next couple of years to teach the patients. At the end of the day, the THC level is not your final vetting criteria for a strain. Right now people go into a dispensary and they basically look for the strain with the highest THC.
Michael Rognier: There are seven or eight different terpene profiles and the way those interact with the THC determines the overall feeling you get strain by strain.
Scott Dunseath: Terpenes may be easier to understand if you think of them as flavors or fragrance.
Oliver X: What happens with the plants in between the one inch and the four in cubes?
Mark Pitchford: Right when it starts to root in the one inch, we put in the four and we transfer it over to here. Once they start to balance themselves under the newer lights then they root to the four and I'll show you the next stage.
Oliver X: What are these other plants in here doing?
Mark Pitchford: These plants in here are some of the new mothers that we're growing bigger to go then take over the hydroponic mothers next door. We'll let them come up in here larger, like I said the dirt mothers always stay where they're at, and the hydros we try to cycle out every four to five months.
Styles of growth
Skinny: So this is still an 18 hour type of thing going on?
Mark Pitchford: Yes, everything on this side of the building for the most part is 18 hour. We do two different styles of growth in hydroponics: we do what we call a topping system and we do a deep water culture. The round baskets here are designed for deep water culture and the square baskets are top feed. We don't have any top fees coming online as much right now. So right now we take a deep water basket and we're top feeding it in the veg side.
Skinny: Rather than an ebb and flow type thing?
Mark Pitchford: Correct. The only time we do ebb and flow is that first stage. Then we come into top feed and I'll show you what we call a Dutch bucket here in a bit.
Oliver X: Why top feed here?
Mark Pitchford: We're not trying to get them super big here, because they grow so fast. So we're not in a hurry over here. We don't need to gain any more time basically. So this works fine and is perfect for our time schedules. Then we'll leave them over on the other side on the flower side.
Shirley Larkins: So this is to slow down the growth process from veg room 1 so that you can cycle them in the right order?
Mark Pitchford: Exactly. This room keeps feeding the other side of the building.
Oliver X: What are you looking for with these plants at this stage, as far as their physical profiles?
Mark Pitchford: We're usually trying to top them and make 'em branch out and get a little bit more stable, so they don't have just one stalk like a Christmas tree. We're trying to go for hedges is what we do here.
Skinny: More budding sites.
Mark Pitchford: Canopy is our key thing here. From day one, we try to make the plant grow into the canopy that we're looking for in four months. You can control that right now at this stage. You can see how this has been topped right here. So that being cut right there, lets the rest of it come up.
Oliver X: So that's for efficiency and overall plant health?
Mark Pitchford: Plant health. They don't like it as much...
Michael Rognier: Certain strains like a Purple Cadillac you might want to top until further on because you want the tallness; it's a short stocky plant. Whereas like an OG you're like topping constantly to keep it under control, so it's not growing through your roof.
Stay tuned for next month where we continue our tour of Kynd's grow facility. Be sure to visit Kynd's beautiful Mynt Cannabis Dispensary, downtown Reno's only dispensary.
This article is featured in the 2017 April RTT: