For CBD Genetics Companies in NC, Change Is the Only Constant

For CBD Genetics Companies in NC, Change Is the Only Constant

When farmers grow crops like corn, tobacco or soybeans, they go to co-ops and commercial suppliers for seeds and seedlings. But hemp farmers? They turn to folks like Matt Spitzer and Chase Werner of Triangle Hemp.

CBD genetics companies serve as the first step in the hemp supply chain. Because of strict regulations in North Carolina about who can grow hemp and how much cannabinoid content the plants can have, these companies need to be reliable and transparent. With laws, market conditions and cultural attitudes constantly in flux, they also need to be ready for change at a moment’s notice.

Starting in a Different Direction

Spitzer and Werner didn’t set out to grow cannabis originally. Their first business venture, Endless Sun Farms, had more traditional crops.

“We ran a hydroponic vegetable operation for four years prior to hemp becoming legal in North Carolina,” said Spitzer. “We grew lettuce, tomatoes, basil out of greenhouses in both Raleigh and Durham. At the core of it, our love is plants. We love growing plants in greenhouses and in general.”

Chase Werner and Matt Spitzer of the CBD genetics company Triangle Hemp
Chase Werner (L) and Matt Spitzer (R) of Triangle Hemp
Image courtesy of Triangle Hemp.

After spending some time in the vegetable industry, the two found market conditions to be unfavorable. So they changed course and started growing cannabis. “We were butting up against some limitations in the vegetable market,” said Spitzer. “And we’ve always seen the value in cannabis.”

Putting Down Roots as Triangle Hemp

Now, as Triangle Hemp, Spitzer and Werner focus on the genetics side of the hemp industry. They provide plants and seeds for farmers to use in indoor and outdoor farms.

“For the past three years we’ve primarily been a small plant nursery,” said Spitzer. “We’re providing starter plants to farmers up and down the east coast. We also produce feminized hemp seeds and sell that across the country. In general, we like being on the cutting edge of growing cannabis.”

A worker roots clones at CBD genetics company Triangle Hemp
Image courtesy of Triangle Hemp.

A major part of Triange Hemp’s work is developing and refining strains of cannabis. This development is especially important in North Carolina, which still limits farmers to growing plants with less than 0.3% delta-9 THC. Farmers in states like ours depend on having reliable genetics to stay in compliance with the law.

“We participate in a lot of breeding,” said Spitzer. “We take new varieties and grow them out, make selections, then incorporate them in our breeding program. Also, we improve upon our old varieties and just try to put out a product we’re proud of.”

Seeds from a CBD genetics supplier.
Image courtesy of Triangle Hemp.

While investors and others jumped into the CBD industry as part of the “green rush,” Spitzer says he and Werner are in it for the long haul.

“We got in early in the North Carolina hemp industry,” he said. “Sadly, there were a bunch of people and companies that were just in it to make a quick buck and didn’t have a whole lot of integrity. We stood out because we wanted to be in it for 30 years. We didn’t want to make and burn bridges just to make a quick buck. There’s nothing else we’d rather do than participate in this industry.”

Adapting to a Changing Market

While North Carolina’s hemp industry is still in its infancy, Spitzer says he’s already seen a change in market demands. At first, Triangle Hemp focused on one strain only — BaOx.

“Initially, when the industry started, the majority of the people who were participating in the industry were kind of larger acreage farmers — tobacco farmers, soybean, corn,” he said. “We realized that not all varieties did well outdoors in high-humidity conditions in the southeast. So we centered our focus on finding a variety that was going to yield well, handle the humidity better and handle storms better. One we knew we could just rely on and that people could rely on. That’s kind of the direction it went.”

Image courtesy of Triangle Hemp.

Spitzer says that up until recently, most farmers’ goal was simply to maximize total CBD content and turn it into oil. Once CBD is turned into an oil, people can use it to make the types of products you see in stores: soaps, tinctures and pet treats.

“They’re kind of putting a little more value on having a dried flower product that’s more unique,” said Spitzer. “For that reason, we’ve focused for the past number of years on selecting higher-terpene profile varieties and flowers that happened to be a little more interesting in a more boutique, smokeable flower kind of way.”

A Future for CBD Genetics in NC

In addition to changes in the market, Spitzer says that he has also witnessed a major cultural shift regarding cannabis.

“It seems like the country as a whole, has kind of knocked down the stigma walls with cannabis,” he said. “I know when we used to grow lettuce hydroponically, every week it seems like you’d get a side-eye from someone like, ‘what are you really growing?’ You’d get these kinds of jokes. People weren’t taking the industry seriously.”

Clones and seedlings ready to go out at the CBD genetics supplier Triangle Hemp.
Image courtesy of Triangle Hemp.

Now, he says, attitudes have changed in North Carolina and around the country.

“It just seems like the community as a whole has adopted it as a very legitimate industry and very legitimate business,” he said. “The stigma around consuming cannabis in all forms is going down.”

Spitzer says he thinks that those changing attitudes could open up a bright future for the cannabis industry in North Carolina. He says it could also change the way people perceive the plant itself. For someone who works with CBD genetics, that’s an exciting prospect.

“When you take those blinders off about the stigma, a whole range of uses comes into the fold,” he said. “This plant is incredibly complex. It’s an amazing plant to grow, and it’s interesting in so many different ways. I can honestly see people growing cannabis as an ornamental plant. It’s a beautiful plant.”

Interested in learning more about North Carolina’s burgeoning cannabis industry? Why not check out one of the state’s first high-end “seed-to-bottle” growers and vendors? Or, you can learn more about the research North Carolina A&T is doing out in their hemp fields.