Marijuana Business Magazine - March 2018

Eco Firma’s trimmers work over custom tables with built-in screens that capture the kief that falls off plants during trimming – rather than letting it go to waste.The kief can be pressed into pucks, rosin and different forms of extract; it also can be put into many other products. Buffkin said OGs are “a breeze” to trim while sativas are leafier and can take three times as long to trim. For example, he grows a Skunkberry strain that takes three or four times as long as most other plants, but the time’s worth it because it’s a Cannabis Cup winner strain that sells well. TREAT YOUR TRIMMERS WELL I n many cultivation sites, trimming is considered a lowly job with little to no room for upward mobility. To Jesse Peters, CEO and chief grower of Eco Firma Farms in Oregon, trimmers are important teammembers because they are often the last people to touch prod- uct before it’s packaged. In short, trim- mers are responsible for how product looks once in the hand of customers. “Trimmers unfortunately get a bad rap. A lot of people view them as being at the bottom of the food chain of the employment force,” Peters said. “We view it the opposite. Our trimmers are some of our most important people, and they get paid exceptionally well.” In fact, Peters pays them $150 for every pound they trim. How hard is it to trim a pound? It depends on the strain. Trimmers typi- cally need about two hours to get through a pound of Maui Bubble Gift, which has a relatively small number of large leaves. By contrast, trimmers need eight to 16 hours to get through a pound of Sensi Star, a sativa plant with many smaller leaves. That means in an eight-hour day, trimmers canmake as much as $75 per hour if trimming Maui Bubble Gift but as little as $9.38 an hour if trimming Sensi Star. Given the wide variance in what his trimmers can earn, Peters must be careful to keep his crew content and working. “You have to be strategic in how you plan out your trimming for your trimmers or you really burn your crew out,” Peters said. “Our trimmers, if they work hard and stay on task, can make over $100,000 per year” working 40-hour weeks. While many of his trimmers would be willing to work 12 hours a day, every day, Peters tries to cap their work weeks at 40 hours to avert the risk of burnout. It also makes budget calculations easier. “I know what it’s going to cost us to trim a pound of cannabis, so I can put it into my metrics of how much it costs to get a pound of cannabis out the door,” Peters said. He also thinks it’s smarter to stagger what strains his trimmers handle. “You don’t want to give them all the Sensi Star right up front when they start trimming. You want to give them that Maui Bubble Gift easy trim out of the gate, so everybody’smotivated. They’re moving, they’re working fast, they’re doing good,” Peters said. “Then you give themsome of that Sensi, and they grind down a little bit and they get through a good chunk of it, but then you bring them back another big leaf strain. It just helps with morale, and it breaks things up. You’re not looking at a giant pile of cannabis that’s going to take a week to trim.” Eco Firma has about 10 trimmers working at any one time, although there have been as many as 15 and as fewas six. The cultivation company harvests about 75 pounds every 10 days – or about 2,700 pounds per year. “So, there is plenty to keep everybodymoving on a regular schedule,” Peters said. He worries, however, that as can- nabis prices come down, he may not be able to pay his trimmers as well as he has been. But he’ll try. “As long as themarket will sustain it, we’ll continue to pay them really well,” Peters said. “They are an integral part of your team. They shouldn’t be devalued because trimming isn’t fun. Because it isn’t themost fun job doesn’t mean it’s the lowliest job.” – Omar Sacirbey Tight Trim Versus Loose Trim Another important question is whether to do a “tight” trim, where all the leaves are removed, or a “loose” trim, where some of the sugar leaves – those that can contain generous amounts of trichomes – are left on. Which one is preferable again depends on the strain, what kind of trichome content the sugar leaves have, flower structure and the particular demands of the market. Some flowers are structured more loosely, so they’re easier to damage by destroying trichomes with aggressive, tight trimming. With those types of strains, loose trimming is preferable. “We tend to trim fairly tight, but some strains you don’t want to trim too tight or you kind of just destroy it,” Peters said. Another factor is market demand. For example, consumers in Portland, Oregon, where Buffkin has a grow site, prefer tight trims with absolutely no leaves, while those in Denver and Las Vegas, where he also has grows, like to see a little sugar leaf on their flower. “You have to coach your trimmers every day, tell them tighter or let them know it’s too tight, depending on what you see,” Buffkin said. ◆ March 2018 • Marijuana Business Magazine • 89