420 Magazine Background

Jorge Cervantes on Grower Snobs

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
Interview with Jorge Cervantes
Author of Indoor Marijuana Horticulture.
Interviewer: Skip Stone

Skip: Do you get stoned when you write?

Jorge: Yeah I get stoned sometimes, but not always. If you have 10 people to call for an article and you need to check facts and cross reference stuff, it's hard as hell to stay stoned or be stoned. If you're just writing and you don't have any outside influences, you can get stoned. Not super stoned. I like to do that because I have more insights sometimes. My thoughts are more precise, more focused at times. It also depends how you feel. A lot of times I'll write for hours sometimes without even thinking about getting stoned.

Skip: You get into it and get focused and don't want to be distracted when you're on a roll. I work about half speed when I'm stoned. It's not very productive. It may be insightful, you make connections between things you might not ordinarily make. But on the other hand you're working a lot slower, so sometimes it's better to just stay straight when you're working.

Skip: Of the growers you visited, what percentage would you say are trying to grow organically or even concerned about the organic nature of the cannabis being grown?

Jorge: Organic and non-organic growing is usually dominated by geography and sometimes age. Here in Holland for example, organic growing isn't really a big thing because there's so many greenhouses and they have so many wonderful fertilizers and what not.

So it's a smaller thing here. But if you go to Northern California, Vermont, Central California, places in Colorado and Wisconsin, usually University towns or towns with high concentrations of organic-livers or free-spirits whatever you'd like to call them, organics is a lot bigger. It's usually a function of geography and politics.

Skip: So you're saying Americans are more concerned about smoking organic pot, while Europeans are less concerned about growing it and smoking it?

Jorge: No. I used examples in America cause I think a lot of people reading this would know those areas. Spain has a huge organic movement. France does too and so does Germany. It's not so big here in the Netherlands because it's never been. Britain also has a pretty big movement.

Skip: So that would explain why in the Dutch coffeeshops there isn't so much organic pot being sold, because it's not being grown here. It seems like the smaller growers are the ones supplying what little organic weed comes to market here. So if you're growing organically it would be by definition a smaller operation?

Jorge: In general they're going to be smaller, but not necessarily.

Skip: So what would be the main difference between someone growing organic and someone growing non-organically?

Jorge: That's a good question. It depends on who's defining organic. Here in Holland they call it Bio, or Biological (biologisch), or not biological. To some people here that means you don't put any insecticide on it. So that's one definition of organic, no organophosphate or chemical pesticides. There's lots of pesticides and lots of fungicides. Non-Organic usually means it's just been heated or processed. Organic technically means it contains a carbon molecule that hasn't been altered. But that doesn't leave a space for rock powders for example. Rock powders don't have a carbon molecule so technically it's not organic. So people confuse this organic and non-organic and tend to label things according to their needs. Just like people who read the bible have it fit their needs first and foremost.

To me organic is all natural products, nothing has been heated or combined to alter the structure of the molecule.

Skip: So you're talking about soil, fertilizer and pesticides...

Jorge: I haven't touched on the soil, or growing medium much. The growing medium is supposed to be inert. That just means it doesn't react with other chemicals. At the same time you have expanded clay which is considered a hydroponic medium. So is cocopeat is considered a hydroponic medium because it doesn't react with other chemicals, but still it's full of carbon molecules. So it is a little confusing. The main thing to look for is non-reaction and the inert quality of the growing medium.

Skip: Have they ever come up with a test for whether something has been grown organically or not? For instance the USDA now has a organic labeling certification. There's different classifications for that too. There's 100% organic, 90% organic, under 90% organic. These allow you to have certain products within your product that are not 100% organic and still issue you a label to show that you took extra care with your growing, processing or packaging.

I find it very confusing here in Holland because they will label pot "bio" simply because it was grown in soil. Yet it may not even have had organic pesticides, it might've had chemical pesticides or whatever. Yet just because it was grown in soil it will still get this label "bio", right?

Jorge: If I'm king I make all the rules. What we have here in Holland is a situation where we have about 100 kings, and everybody makes their own rules to suit their own needs. All they have to do is be louder and stronger than somebody else and then their rules become truth. It's impossible to police, impossible to control.

Skip: I'm hoping that eventually if cannabis laws are eased a bit in the E.U. that they would eventually apply their labeling laws in the E.U. to cannabis. Which would prevent "bio" from being used as a word to describe cannabis unless it was indeed grown organically. That's something for the future, I don't expect you to answer on that.

What new methods are being used by growers and what improvements have you noticed as a result?

Jorge: There's a lot more seed varieties out there. A lot more access to seeds. It's easier for growers to get a hold of genetic material, which is real exciting. There's lots of changes within those. Some are more potent, different flavors, different tastes, different abilities. A lot of varieties have increased in quality. Some are more mold resistant, or easier to grow, or more fertilizer tolerant.

Skip: So are these changes in genetics coming about by cross-breeding or are they doing genetic engineering on these?

Jorge: They can only cross one variety with another to come up with an F-1 hybrid. But the problem is people have talked about pulling out the THC cannabinoid gene and putting it in another plant. But that hasn't happened yet.

Skip: Haven't you heard about the THC tomatoes?

Jorge: That's all bullshit. I ran it down and talked to the person that "made it up", but I haven't seen that it's true that there's a THC containing tomato.

There's quite a few things that are different in the last five years. Lighting's changed. They've added several new lamps. There's 1100 watt lamps. There's different spectrums. There's warm-white, cool-white. From Venture lighting. Those lights seem to work real well, especially the warm-blue one. A lot of people seem to like that one.

They now have one part nutrients. They're mixing the chemicals better. They're a little easier to use. There's a whole range of new instruments out. It's cheaper and easier to measure things now than it was a few years ago.

Skip: You mean like humidity or gases in the air?

Jorge: Everything. CO2 in the air, temperature, humidity. They've got electronic measuring devices. Now there's one program that you can hook right into Windows, get all your calculations right on screen. Line graphs show you your temperature for the last 48 hours, or 48 days, or 4.8 years. As long as you had it on, you can record that. That's a huge thing! You have a lot more information to make your decisions with.

There's a ton of new plastics that have made hydroponic gardening easier. Gullies and what not. More technology enables you to measure the turbidity of the water. New sensors. More control over the environment.

Skip: Have growers changed emphasis over the past few years? For example concentrating on taste and quality over yield and potency. When I say quality, I mean not necessarily how strong it is, but say in the curing process, when it's getting ready for market, handling it correctly.

Jorge: It kind of depends on who you are and what you're growing for. A lot of people aren't as good a grower as they think they are. They're substandard, yet they still manage to sell all their dope and make a lot of money. That gives them the illusion of success. I've seen a lot of rooms that are producing about half of what they should be able to. It's very, very common. I've seen a lot of bad growers! Over half the growers out there are just not very good at it! They need to become better growers before they can worry about making their dope any better. They still need to get up to the benchmark of a half a gram per watt of light.

I talked to a guy yesterday who was making .3 grams per watt of light every month, and he has a great lifestyle, traveling all over the world,incredibly successful and he's just not that great a grower. People are looking at him as sort of a hero. But to me he's not. He needs to learn more. These people love to talk about varieties and like to be snobs about stuff, but they just don't have the skills to be a snob!


Skip: So there are grower snobs, then?


Jorge: Definitely. Then again, some people are excellent growers. More than half are! I think there's a lot of production going on out there. That's what most people are concerned with. As far as drying and curing. Most people, espcially indoor growers have very little concern with that. Just dry it and smoke it.

Skip: That would disturb me a little bit. So are these growers actually processing their pot after it leaves the greenhouse? Are they doing their own curing and drying and trimming?

Jorge: No. See a greenhouse grower is usually bigger and they have their whole crop come at once. So they usually take better care of their plants than a small indoor grower. The large commercial indoor growers always take care of their pot the same, just dry it and sell it, dry it and sell it.

Skip: Aren't they processing a whole plant at a time? They have all these machines that strip off the leaves and to process it now. It's not so much of a careful manicuring that used to go on.

Jorge: It depends upon how big the place is. If you've got 50 acres of dope, you've gotta process it mechanically because physically you can't process it fast enough before it rots.

Skip: So my question then is; is that good for the consumer? Are they losing some of the potency because they're just throwing the pot around?

Jorge: No, it's a lower quality of pot that's grown outside in the field that's mechanically processed. You're gonna bruise the buds up a little more and that's going to bruise your resin glands. You have to stack this pot up and move it around and stack it on top of each other, so it's a little abusive. But if you take good care of it and cut it carefully with scissors and don't bruise the tricomes.

Skip: So at some point, with the biggest growers, are buds being handled by hand and given that extra care, or is it just mass production?

Jorge: It depends upon each individual. This one Swiss guy, for example, grows great big plants that are kinda gangly. He never fertilizes or waters or anything. I mentioned to him, you can do a lot better with your production. If you just fertilized or weeded once, you could pick up your production by 20-30%. He says "You know that's probably true, but then if I just put one more row in here, then I don't have to think about what you said, and I don't have to learn anything, so that makes me happier. Besides, I have about 3 tons here," [laughter] and I can't smoke it all...[more laughter] So I make it into hash and I give it for Christmas."

Skip: So how much pot is being converted into hash by these growers?

Jorge: Well in Switzerland, a lot of it. There's a lot of hash being made there. They like hash better in Switzerland. In most of Europe they like hash better. Probably Switzerland is the biggest country (for producing) hash. Second would be Netherlands for local hash. Third might be Canada. But you don't see hash that's made by growers that actually gets on the market. Maybe here (in Holland) you do.

Skip: Here you do because in the last year I've noticed a big increase in the variety of Nederhash. They don't even call it Nederhash anymore. They're starting to use trade names now like Ice-O-Later or Jelly Hash. There's competition here with brand names. Now the hashes are getting their own names. At first it seemed they were taking the name of the plant itself and just putting the word "hash" after it. So whatever variety they had they would just call it that plus hash (to set it apart from other Nederhash). But even that's a problem because if you had "Jack Herrer Hash", well then lots of people could make hash out of "Jack Herrer" but if you give it a certain name and trademark it, then you have a product that's unique.

I've always like the Nederhash because it's always kinda pure. But now they've gotten into processing it perfectly. It's become a connoisseur thing for the growers themselves, who are perhaps the biggest consumers of these hashes. Along with the coffeeshop owners and the people who work there, they seem to have developed quite the taste for their own hashes. As a result what we are seeing is so much more shaken buds for sale in the shops because most of it is being processed for hash first and the leftover is being sold as bud. And it's not what it used to be and everybody's noticing it because I'm getting lots of comments on our website now about it too. People come here from the states, who are used to smoking good shit like say in California where the buds are just crammed full of resin, and they come here, and they find it inferior. This is unusual because it used to be the reverse.

This is my own crusade. I'm trying to make the public aware of why this is happening and get them to confront the coffeeshops on this issue. I feel if you're a breeder, you breed this pot special to have this incredible potency or whatever. And then when the person actually buys it, they may go back home and say "You know I smoked a lot better than that shit. They've been writing it up as being great, but when I bought it in a coffeeshop it wasn't that good." That really reflects badly on the seed breeders who really have no control over how their stuff is finally marketed. They also need to get on the ball and start pressuring them (growers, coffeeshops).

I don't know what the solution is because there's such a growing demand for this hash. How are they going to provide both? I think eventually the hash will just push out some of the pot from the market and the pot will become less in demand. More people will taste the hash and realize that's where the good stuff is, and that grass is no longer what it used to be.

Jorge: Well there's a simple solution....

Skip: What's that?

Jorge: Grow more dope!


Skip: That would work! And I think that is the solution too. Most of the hashes used to be imported from overseas and they used to be organic, because in the poor countries they can't afford fertilizer and all these chemical things for growing their pot. They would just throw some seeds into the ground and when it comes up, it comes up. And that's about the extent of most grass processing before the hash in most of these foreign countries.

Now you've got a situation where the hash has been grown non-organically and becomes more concentrated. So people who are used to smoking hash and not getting any other side effects or whatever, are now smoking this extremely potent Dutch hash that has not been grown organically, and is possibly going to have unintended effects.

When you get hash is it affected by whether it's been grown organically or not? Is the quality of the THC affected by whether it's organically grown?

Jorge: It shouldn't.

Skip: Maybe for flavor. I noticed some growers grow certain plants for hash. They even call them "hash plants", because they're not meant to be smoked. If you smoke them they taste terrible. But the hash is incredible!

Jorge: You've got table grapes and wine grapes for example. Table grapes are very sweet and are nicer to eat. The wine grapes often have thick skin on them to protect them. The skins can be made in to grappa or orujo. The seeds aren't as important in the wine grapes as in the table grapes. The sugar content is much different. The wine grapes don't taste very good to eat.

Skip: That's a good analogy.

Jorge: The marijuana plants would be very much the same. If you concentrate all the resin it would taste quite good, but when you have it on plants that have way too much chlorophyll or other bad qualities in the vegetative part, it would make it taste bad.

Skip: Do you find that growers are growing specific varieties for hash?
Jorge: I really don't know too much about that. They may be starting that, but I haven't seen a big movement. I know some people like certain varieties because they make better hash

Skip: It seems to me here in Holland they're in an experimental phase with it. They're making hash out of everything right now. And everyone's turning everyone else on to it and everyone' trying to decide what the best hash is. What grasses make the best hash. I know there's haze hash, which is very in demand right now, like all the Sativa hashes which are harder to come by. I think this experimentation is a really good thing, because I prefer hashish and this is something new. We've always had the same Moroccan, Nepalese, Pakistani hashes for ages and ages and now suddenly there are dozens if not soon to be hundreds of types of hash, all made from hybrids, that nobody has seen before or tried before in their lives. So this is an exciting new phase in cannabis, especially for the consumer to be able to taste this.

Are there any substantial qualitative differences between growers in different countries? I've been focusing on quality in this discussion because I'm more concerned about what the end user consumes than the techniques that growers use. For example Pakistani hash vs. Nepalese. You've always had the lower grades from one place and the better grades coming from another country.

Jorge: Usually what happens is that people keep the best produce for themselves and smoke it locally. Then they export the lower quality. I think you're gonna find your best growers are consistently in Switzerland. They always do everything perfect. If they don't do it perfectly they have a lower status. They must do everything perfectly because everyone does everything perfectly there.

Skip: Is there as much competition in Switzerland like there is in Holland among the growers and breeders?

Jorge: There's competition, but it's quite a bit different though. It's not so overt like it is here. Dutch people in general carry their manhood along with their variety. They don't distinguish between the two. It's like they say, "This variety is as big as my dick!" [laughter] "It's the biggest one, I'll show you, it's on the table here. I'd like to smoke your dope, but mine's so much better, I really don't want to waste my time with yours." That's very much of an ego statement and very common.

In Switzerland people would say "Yeah, I have the best dope, it's better than anybody else's around here. Would you like to try some?" In general, if someone has better marijuana than another, they'll admit it! In the Netherlands you just don't see it admitted.

Skip: They've got too much ego tied up.

Jorge: Also ego is very big in Canada too. Ego tends to get in the way of quality a lot of times. It also holds back information. Growers in Spain are probably down at the bottom of the (ego) list, but they're learning quickly. They like really good smoke. The more people that are around, the more marijuana that's around, the higher the quality gets. It seems to be a cumulative thing.

Skip: So over time, the growers learn from each other, from your books, from competitions, from their own experiences and improve their varieties, improve their growing methods, and everybody's happy as a result. It gets better and better.

Jorge: Yeah that's right!

Skip: I have one more question for you, then I'll let you go. Can we expect to see any new books from you in the new year?

Jorge: I'm working on one now, I need to get more photos and have more experiments. It'll be a book on how to grow for a small amount of money in a small space. A lot of people need to do that. They're not really heavy consumers and they don't need to grow a pound or a half a pound every month. They need to grow an ounce every month maybe or two ounces.

Skip: Two ounces a month I think would satisfy most individuals.

Jorge: They can grow it under the table, in a small corner. A lot of people don't have that much room to grow. So it seems like there's a big need for it. And there's the new compact florescent lamps in higher wattages. 65 to 125 watts.

Skip: You know you might want to discuss those completely enclosed grow systems. I'm curious about those things because you can grow not only pot but other things in them.

Jorge: You don't have a big marijuana habit and could grow a small amount and be happy with that. It would be perfect for you. But in America everything's gotta to be big. You've gotta have a thousand watt lamp. You can get the same amount of light out of a 600 watt. All you need to do is put it closer to the plants. You burn less wattage, you're much more efficient...

Skip: Less heat, less electricity...

Jorge: That book will probably come out next year. I'm also going to release a video with 10-20 growrooms. A little tour of the grow rooms. I didn't realize how important it was for people to see inside growrooms. I was talking to a seed company here who redid their seed room. They changed it substantially. They told me that just looking at the photographs of different rooms saved them days of work. So a video will help them immensely. You can learn in 30 seconds a hell of a lot of stuff.

Skip: I look forward to seeing that video.

Source: MarijuanaGrowing.com


New Member
Thank you, excellent post Moose.
When I went outta town for medicine last week and seen my friend's grow room & (OGkush)plants that I hadn't seen in about a year, I kind of reacted like Ace Ventura when he walks into that room with all the stuffed animal heads. I tripped out because they're trying out 3 gallon buckets with shredded rockwool and 8" air cooled (all reflectors are pinned directly to the ceiling because of perceived difficulty raising and lowering with duct!) 1000w 240v Lumatek lights.
OG stretches like a motherfudger in most stages of growth but these plants got so tall in veg because of the lights being so high that the light cycle had to be switched from 18/6 to 24/0. To top it all off there was a load of algae in every single bucket from being watered too often and the plants were as gangly as can be with leaves browning up in various spots. There were about 6 whiteflies buzzing around the room.
I wanted to say something so bad but I'm the rook, and this person has been growing for years and years so I couldn't figure out a way to ease it on in. I also figured they end up with extremely danky stuff so why bother. It was amazing to think though that they could probably double their yield with just a few adjustments.
Top Bottom