October brings about all the seasonal traditions of fall in Michigan: apple cider and donuts, pumpkin patches, vibrant fall colors and, for my fellow stoners, fields upon fields of outdoor cannabis that’s ready to be harvested.
Outdoor cannabis season is wrapping up for farms of all sizes, from legacy and caregiver grows to institutional, capital-backed mega grows. Over the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of cannabis plants will make their way from the ground to Michigan medical patients and adult-use consumers in both the legacy and state-regulated markets.
Each year, in the weeks following “Croptober,” the Michigan cannabis market goes absolutely insane as far as pricing and supply. The market is flooded with literal tons of cannabis products that are made with abundant outdoor cannabis. Many years, this seems speculatory and is tinged with fear for wholesalers.
In addition, cannabis remediation allows outdoor cultivators to supply consumers in the adult-use market with cheap outdoor flower that passes mandated state testing because it’s irradiated or otherwise mitigated.
It’s important to keep some important context in mind. This is the first year the legal market has seen Brian Hanna fully at the helm as the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency’s executive director. Hanna has increased enforcement, and there have already been high-profile incidents involving licensees backdooring cannabis extract and other products from the illicit market.
Matt Lechleider of Dragonfly, a cannabis cultivation and processing center in southwest Michigan, is optimistic about this year’s outdoor crop. Michigan is rough for outdoor growing. September and October can be hot and wet months, a real bummer for maturing cannabis plants. But Lechleider said Dragonfly’s outdoor crop should be a banger this year. He assured me the entire region, which is heavy with outdoor flower production, is doing well, and many farms expect to have bumper crops, or crops that yield an unusually productive harvest.
He explained that many of the operators have dialed in their genetics and processes, and with remediation, they’re seeing consistently improving results. Dragonfly produces widely available outdoor flower and pre-rolls at an accessible price point. It also turns a large portion of its crop into extract that’s used for edibles, vapes and other processed THC products.
Outdoor producers and processors will be busy over the next few weeks processing the 2023 cannabis harvest. Lechleider and Nick Reeser, president and CEO of the Lansing-based commercial grow facility DNK Growers, agree that increased enforcement from the Cannabis Regulatory Agency and other market forces will probably keep Croptober pricing from making a huge impact on consumers, outside of a few key products. The retail game has matured to a point where retailers are already selling many items at huge discounts to outprice the competition — especially extracts and infused products, which are heavily dependent on outdoor materials.
Reeser, a longtime Lansing-based caregiver, said this month is business as usual at DNK Growers’ indoor facility.
“I have been experiencing Croptober even back when I was starting as a caregiver over 10 years ago. It’s never really affected my demand,” he said. “Indoor cannabis is a completely different flower product. If you like cheap flower, this time of year can be great. But if you appreciate top-shelf cannabis, it’s business as usual. People will pay for top-quality craft cannabis year-round, and those customers typically don’t consume outdoor cannabis.”
So, what does this all mean for you, stoners of Lansing? In a nutshell, expect some pricing incentives on a lot of your favorite infused and distillate-based products. It also wouldn’t be nuts to see a lot more bulk deals on vape cartridges and edibles start to roll out at more and more retailers across Lansing. If you’re already purchasing items like sub-$100 ounces, chances are you’ll start seeing more variety and maybe even a little movement on pricing as retailers push to move through old inventory so they can buy up this year’s harvest at this year’s pricing.
I wouldn’t expect to see a whole lot of movement on indoor flower pricing or in the top-shelf hash markets, though. This holds true for people purchasing from both the legacy and state-regulated markets. We’re reaching a point where the market for cannabis is so competitive, both on the streets and in the boardroom, that the Croptober excess supply doesn’t affect large parts of our market.
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