We sat down with the legend, Peter from Massive Seeds.
Razia: You've been growing since 1987 and you started growing after watching your dad grow and he had been growing since 1975, correct? Was he growing in Oregon? Did you guys always live there?
Peter: Yes, he pioneered the land that we still grow on in 1975 and he grew on that land every summer guerrilla style.
Razia: Did you get any strains from him?
Peter: We have some heirloom strains that are not in our program anymore, but the Blueberry Snow is probably one of our oldest strains that I got from my dad.
Razia: Do you know where he got it from?
Peter: He used to have a genetics guy that would come out from the East Coast and bring some great genetics to us back in the 70s when there wasn't much available. He would give my dad seeds and ask for 10% of the of the crop at the end of the year because the seeds were thatvaluable. He wouldbring my dad these seeds, which were very special, and 10% was worth it to my dad. I don't remember who this person was exactly, but he brought some great genetics out to Oregon.
Razia: That's awesome. So, genetics, have been coming from the East Coast for a while! You have two different companies that you work on. One of them is, we know Massive Seeds. What's the other one?
Peter: Roganja. We started Massive Seeds originally, for creating a seeds for sale company. I used to give the seeds away to all my buddies for years and then realized it was a lot of work and they were valuable, so, I started selling them. Then when we came into the recreational world and got licensed, we created a new brand called Roganja to represent our flower. Roganja is basically just the combination of the word Rogue, for the valley terroir that we grow in and Ganja as a sacred terminology for cannabis.
Razia: That is so cool, how long is Roganja been around?
Peter: We are harvesting our third crop here, so we are in season three right now.
Razia: How long has Massive Seeds been around?
Peter: Massive Seeds has been around for seven or eight years.
Razia: Wow. That's incredible, especially since 98% of cannabis companies go belly up within the first two years. You could say, you have your finger on the pulse of the political climate for Oregon growers, right?
Peter: Yeah, I think so. I follow that.
Razia: How do you feel about what's been happening the last couple of years as far as, the legality?
Peter: I have conflicting thoughts on recreational and the way it's gone. I guess some of the things I dislike is the Metrc seed to sale tracking system, which I feel like is a joke. I also disagree with how the legislature in Oregon opened the cannabis industry up to all kinds of outside investment and have no sort of protections for the mom and pops that have created the industry here. It's really forced a lot of these small growers and mom and pop's to either go recreational or just basically go out of business. So that's been really frustrating to watch and deal with the bureaucracy.
Razia: Do you feel like all the outside influence money that's been coming in, is the reason why there are these super crops now and the prices have fallen so drastically?
Peter: Yeah, I mean that's a big part of it. But the main issue is Oregon has historically been a good growing state and we continue to be; but now with the seed to sale tracking and how the industry is set up, we're basically shackled to the state of Oregon. We have a pretty small population of smokers, but a very large population of really good growers. So just the oversupply and saturation has destroyed the pricing and created a sort of a race to the bottom on pricing.
Razia: I get emails almost every single day from Canada, it's junk mail, but they have been asking to work with through our licenses and they will pay us, just to use them to because want to skip the process of getting licensed themselves. They have so much money, it's getting harder and harder to say no to them. And I don't know, I mean, I can't say much for Canadian growers. Their season is so short!
Peter: I can't blame people for taking outside investment money. I guess that’s the way of American capitalism. It’s rough seeing that come into the cannabis industry and the start of the corporate takeover; it is so sad how the laws favor corporations.
Razia: Let's find a lighter note, what's something you like about the new system of legality?
Peter: I guess some of the things about legalization that I do like is not having to hide what I do. Being out in the open, about being able to grow our plants in full sun instead of under shade or hidden in the forest and really being able to maximize the genetic potential of our strains outdoors..
Razia: That is a good thing. We're super excited.
Peter: Yeah, it's Fun. And just the opportunity to grow basically a whole acre canopy of cannabis flower is amazing.
Razia: I am so jealous. I want to be there and just look at it and walk through it and smell it.
Peter: You guys have to come visit, it was nice to have Daniel, but both of you should see it.
Razia: I will be there soon.
Peter: Even having to deal with OLCC Metrc and all the red tape, is made worthwhile by being able to grow a variety of cannabis.
Razia: Does that take up a lot of your day? Can you walk me through maybe a little bit of your typical day of what you do?
Peter: Sure, I have the marketing, metric and administrative side of things that I take care of when I'm at home. Just dealing with Metrc includes inputting, creating transfer manifests at the end of the seed to sale tracking system like our harvest and what plants we’re growing. It takes a lot of time to do that. We grow 500 to 700 plants in our garden and we must track every single one of them and then we have probably 50 different strains. They must all be categorized as different strains and because we multi harvest a plant, we must record multiple harvests. So, it just, it adds a huge workload on that end, which is probably the least fun.
Razia: It doesn't sound like a lot of fun. After you spend countless hours doing that, what do you do? Do you get to go out into the field?
Peter: So yeah, the fun part is the marketing and sharing our cultivars and some of our growing techniques online or on Instagram (@massiveseeds2). Going down to the farm and spending time with the cannabis ladies is awesome. Taking our seeds in March and going all the way through the growing cycle is incredible. Really, just spending time in the garden, doing the breeding once a year is super fun raising the males and selecting special phenotypes of the females.
Razia: So how do you decide what strains to use? Where do you get your seeds from? How do you decide which seeds to breed?
Peter: We have multiple breeding strategies, depending on what we're looking for. One of the main ones is really breeding for a cannabis strain that can look, taste and smell as good or better than indoor. And selecting genetics for that is pretty important. Of course, I think the most important thing is selecting something that makes you feel great. The high must be really good and the taste and the smell [are good indicators]. Your nose, knows, something that is going to be delicious. That is usually going to besomething that you really like to smoke. There are multiple things I'm breeding right now, like my Pineapple Pomegranate strain for example. I'm breeding for pink pistils. That's just a beauty to grow in the garden. It's a grower's delight. It's fun to grow, and it's also a great smoke. Another one that we're working on is what I call the Gas Project and just selecting a bunch of really gassy strains and breeding those, like Dog Walker, Chem Dog, Sour Diesel Girl, Gorilla Glue, for some of the big names, but are some of the really gassy strains the people are loving these days.
Razia: People do love them. I've always really preferred the more citrusy strains, J1, Cosmic Charlie, etc, but of course, to each their own.
Peter: We're working on a bunch of stuff; Tangy, lemon and lime type crosses.
Razia: Razia: We're excited to see those come out. I've seen your flower on-the-vine to say, but how do those colors translate when they're dry and in the bag?
Peter: Usually the pink pistols are pink when the flower is immature, so a lot of times by the time the flower ripens up, the pink pistols that you see on the flower, will have turned red. You might see a little bit of pink left in the dry bud but it's mostly like, the sugar liaises and calyxes that will retain some of the exotic coloration that you see while it's growing but the pistols will usually change to red.
Razia: And that's why we should follow your Instagram is so that we can see the beautiful pinks that'll eventually translate into the reds. What kind of research and development do you do before you let seeds and flowers out into the market?
Peter: Good question. Because we breed outdoor, it's a slow process. We have to wait a whole year before we see the results of our breedingcreations. I will release some strains on a limited edition before I have grown them out and only if I have a lot of faith in the cross. But I might not release them again if it's something I want to keep explicitly with the farm. If we have, our dad's Durbin for example, we only grew maybe 10 of them the first year and then we realized how killer they were. The next year we would grow a couple of rows of them. We'll grow a small portion that first year and then determine from that year which ones we want to move forward with. At the same time we'll decide which ones are worthy of releasing in seed form for retail.
Razia: That's exciting. Do you guys do any flower testing at all to check for terpenes?
Peter: We do, there's a lot of great science available now. We've worked in the past mostly through intuitive breeding and what feels right and what we like. But now we have a lot of science options available, like terpene profiles that we can get from the labs, that show us what the dominant terpenes are. Or another great tool that we've been using is a genotyping group that can show your genotype, what your cultivar is most closely related to and can show you how rare it is. It can show you where your cultivar falls in a spectrum between, for example, Skunk, OG, Barry CBD and hemp varieties, which is a useful tool.
Razia: We're excited to turn a lot of your most beautiful strains into extract through Extractioneering. We do flower testing prior to creating the extracts and test the extracts themselves. It's always really awesome to have outside people doing testing as well. It’s always good to be able to pull really, good flowers from previous testing instead of just getting a bunch of flowers and then testing it and seeing what works the best.
Razia: Is there anything that you want to say to up and coming cannabis farmers in Oregon? (...other than, “Stop. There's too many of you.”)
Peter: One of the things that my dad taught me was that less is more when it comes to feeding and the nutrients. And then I would also encourage any cannabis growers, to checkout and research, the soil food web and investigate the microbiology of our soil, which is crucial to a quality.
Razia: I totally agree. Not enough growers seem to even care about that kind of thing. Especially when they're huge. They just have a ton of money and they just, they just throw seed into the ground and go and whatever comes out, they chop it down and stick it into bags and put it on the market.
Peter: Then, I'd say (and maybe this is to myself as well) hang in there and get through this turbulent time in the industry. Our market will get better when we get to utilize our Oregon heritage and growing climate to be able to provide for the rest of the country.
Razia: Oh, so that would be incredible. I'm so excited for that day. Before I let you go. Do you happen to have a favorite strain and what is it if you do have one?
Peter: I have a new favorites this year that I breed last year that I'm just now getting to smoke that I am loving. One is the Yuki Dog. It's named after my dog, Yuki. It comes from Star Dawg, which is a real diesel forward and energizing type sativa strain.
Razia: How do you spell that?
Peter: Y U K I, which means snow in Japanese.
Razia: That is crazy. You know, we have a cat named Zuki, which means moon in Japanese.
Peter: Are you serious? That's cool. That's awesome.
Razia: Thank you so much Peter for talking with me and answering all my inane questions.
Peter: My pleasure Razia, I hope I was concise and able to answer what you were asking.
Razia: It was perfect. It was perfect. Thank you so much.