Flora Farms marijuana cultivation facility near Humansville expanding to try and meet demand of $1 billion industry

Published: May. 19, 2023 at 8:57 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - According to the Missouri Division of Cannabis Regulations, the state passed $1 billion in cannabis product sales in early May. That’s three years since medical marijuana was made available and just three months after recreational pot became legal.

Some 38 states allow medical marijuana sales while 22 states have approved recreational use for adults.

“They tell us Missouri is the fastest medical-adult use state that’s rolled out yet,” said Mark Hendren, the President of Flora Farms, whose cultivation facility two miles north of Humansville supports dispensaries all over the state. “For our clients, we sell out everything we can grow every week. That’s why we and other cultivators are expanding.”

At the Humansville facility that expansion means adding another 60,000-square-foot building to the 125,000 square feet of warehouse space Flora Farms already has in the area along Highway 13.

There’s also a dispensary at the cultivation facility where the wide selection of smokable products, as well as marijuana-infused products like gummies, suckers, candy bars, s’mores, cookies, pills, soda, and lemonade, leaves many patrons surprised.

“We hear a lot of people say, ‘I never thought I’d see the day,’” said Jennifer Ervin, the Manager of the Humansville Flora Farms Dispensary. “They are just absolutely floored by the amount of things that are in here.”

The cannabis flower product comes from the cultivation part of the warehouse where over 200 employees go through a process that takes about three-and-a-half months from start to finish.

“It can be scary some days,” Hendren said of the challenges faced in the new, high-demand industry.

It begins with 60-70 strains of “mother” plants which are kept in vegetative stages to be the source of all the other flower products grown here.

“They’ll live anywhere from two-to-five years,” Hendren said of the mother plants. “We’ll come every 30-60 days to give them a big haircut where we trim off what we call clones. Those small plants that we cut from the mother plant are then put into two-inch blocks for a couple of weeks until the plant starts rooting. Then we’ll transfer them to a six-inch block, and that’s where that plant will live until it’s grown. That’s also where we start tagging them as the state of Missouri requires that we keep track of every plant from seed to sale.”

Once the clones grow between 12-24 inches they are moved to a flower room.

“The most important thing there is changing the light cycle to 12 hours of dark and 12 hours of light,” Hendren said.

After around two months when the plants have reached maturity, they are removed from the soil and allowed to dry and cure for two-to-four weeks depending on the strain.

“About 85 percent of the growing plant is moisture,” Hendren pointed out. “By state regulation, we have to dry that out to under 15 percent before we can package it and sell it.”

The last step before testing and packaging is the trim room.

“After we harvest the plants and allow them to dry we hand-trim them and separate the sugar leaves from the bud itself,” Hendren said. “Our employees can trim about 100 pounds a day. After that, it goes to the packaging room where we weigh and package the product. About 90 percent of our product goes out in a 1/8th-ounce bag.”

While there are over 700 overall strains of marijuana they all basically fall into two categories or types labeled “Sativa” and “Indica” which have differing effects.

“You can think of Indica as, ‘in da couch,’” Ervin said with a smile. “You’re going to feel a little bit sleepier, a little bit more drowsy. It’s good for nighttime. Sativa is going to give you a little bit of energy. It’s going to give you what we call a ‘head-high.’ So you’ll end up being creative, happy and talkative. And there are hybrids of the two. A majority of the manufactured projects are hybrids.”

As for choosing between products you smoke or those that you ingest like edibles?

“If you inhale it through your lungs it’s going to take effect a lot faster than what it would going through your digestive system,” Ervin explained. “And depending on what the product is it may absorb quicker than others. So it may take your body a little bit longer to feel the effects of a candy bar as opposed to a drink. And this is not your grandfather’s marijuana. We have higher THC levels and all of the products have a lot of different things they can do for you. Some of them help your digestive system while some help with anxiety or have more pain-relieving effects. It depends on what you need.”

It’s hard to believe how far the marijuana industry has come in Missouri in such a short time and how a cannabis-growing facility hardly anyone notices as they along Highway 13 plays such an important role in its growth. Flora Farms even has its own irrigation system and power substation because of all the electricity it uses.

And as to how such a large facility came to be built in a rural area near Humansville, a town with a population of around 1,000?

Hendren answered it was a key factor in being awarded the cultivation licenses.

“When you apply for the license if you were willing to locate in some of the higher unemployment areas, they added bonus points to your application,” he said.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com