Just a few years ago, the only cannabinoid most people knew about was THC. Today, high-CBD strains have since been rapidly gaining popularity as more people hear about it through the media or word of mouth. Stories like Charlotte Figi in the United States and the high-CBD strain known as "Charlotte's Web" have made international news for helping with issues like seizures caused by Dravet Syndrome, among other things.
In Canada, parents like Mandy McKnight have also drawn attention to the value of CBD-rich strains, especially in pediatric cases. While "Charlotte's Web" isn't necessarily available in Canada, there are many other high CBD options available to those interested. A new one now entering that marketplace is Leamington, Ontario-based Aphria's "Wilbur". With a name that is a nod to the character from the popular children's book, Wilbur is currently the producer's highest CBD option, at ~2% THC and ~6% CBD, and one they are quite proud of.
Aphria took some time to answer a few of our questions about not only the decision process behind high CBD strains, but also the growing process and unique characteristics of Wilbur and cannabis in general. Below is part of our conversation with them:
Lift: From the CBD options available, why did you pick this strain?
John Cervini (Chief Agronomist and Co-founder): "When Cole and I were growing under the MMAR, we recognized and satisfied our patient’s demand for high THC strains. When we began growing under the MMPR, we noticed a significant strain demand shift from high THC to high CBD strains. Through the feedback we’ve received from health care practitioners and medical marijuana clinics, we have learned Wilbur’s CBD/THC ratio makes it a top choice for novice medical marijuana patients and for individuals who do not want cannabis to inhibit their daily functioning.
Lift: How does it differ from other strains you're offering? What sets it apart?
John Cervini: "The largest difference is the ratio of CBD to THC: High CBD and Low THC. Buds are a bit looser than others, due to the plant’s generative growth habit.
Lift: What is something unique to this specific cannabis strain compared to others you've been working with over the past year(s)?
Rick Rabb (Master Grower): "From a plant science perspective it is one of our more vigorous Sativa strains. It is highly vegetative, with very open generative plant growth. It is an excellent propagator with very successful propagation rates, in turn creating well-rooted plants.
Lift: What challenges or benefits in terms of growth/production have you experienced with Wilbur?
Rick Rabb: "The challenge with this strain is looking for vegetative tools to keep it lush. This strain requires a very specific and unique nutrient ratios, along with particular timing due to its generative behavior. Managing these together is where our best growing practices are being monitored and improved. Overall, Wilbur is responding well to these growing techniques, and we are observing steady increases in yield.
Lift: Collectively, Aphria has several decades of commercial growing experience. What new have you learned from working with cannabis?
Cole Cacciavillani (COO and Co-founder): "In many regards cannabis is very similar to growing any photoperiodic plant, such as a pot mum or poinsettia. However, once we enter the generative stage, we require it to respond like a vegetable plant in the produce world, where demand is focused on yield and quality.
"Observing the direct correlation between light intensity and yield, it has been unlike any other crop John and I have grown, collectively in 55 years. In our world, industry standard is 1% increase of light equals 1% increase in yield. In cannabis, we haven’t been able to quantify the exact percentage ratio of light to yield, however we do know the percentages to be far greater than in our other crops. Thus, one of the added benefits of growing in a greenhouse with high-intensity natural light; only using artificial light in seasons needed to shoulder daylight.
"In addition to light, cannabis does not like high EC’s (electrical conductivity) and each strain has its own personality. Due to these characteristics, utilizing our specific nutrient management program, along with close monitoring of scheduling and growing techniques is essential to creating the ultimate environment for each individual strain.
"Of the more than 6.5 million plants our greenhouses produce each year, marijuana plants are the only plants with genetics that have a lot of opportunity for standardization. Being veteran growers, we recognized this need immediately and have been successful in adapting our growing techniques to be custom to each plant genotype."
Lift: Thanks for your time today. We hope to hear from you again soon.