The smokable hemp flower market is expected to grow fivefold by 2025, to around $400 million from about $80 million in 2020. Although it faces obstacles from regulatory, law enforcement, and consumer education standpoints, farmers across the U.S. are increasingly intrigued by smokable hemp’s speed to market.
So when leadership at Newark, Ohio-based Hillside Cultivations converted half of their family-owned racecar machine shop into a hemp cultivation and processing facility, Vice President Austin Morgan set out in search of solutions that could expedite that process even more. During his search, he discovered Cryo Cure and learned that this patented technology could bring a factor to smokable hemp unlike anything else in the market.
Getting ahead in a crowded hemp market
Before heading to market, all cultivators must do their due diligence to determine the best procedures, methodologies, and equipment for their products. Morgan was no different: Tapping into the family motto – “When we strive for perfection, we settle for excellence” – he sought out the methodologies and equipment that could create the best possible smokable hemp.
At first, Morgan said that he hoped to uncover the most efficient grow procedures possible to get the most out of their 10,000 square foot facility.
“I wanted to ask other hemp farmers, ‘If you can do this over again, what would you do better?’” Morgan said.
The refrain he heard time and again from farmers revolved around the weekslong drying and curing process. The hemp flower quality deteriorated as terpenes naturally evaporated. To Morgan, it made no sense that such a time-intensive process was so incredibly inefficient for farmers.
“Not only is it time-consuming, but it is also meticulous,” Morgan continued. “You spend weeks taking hemp from a seedling to harvest just to spend weeks waiting for it to dry and cure. If there is something that can be better processed or more efficient and cut time in the long run, I’m going to look into that.”
Morgan headed to his computer and started searching, and he stumbled upon Cryo Cure. While he found other drying technologies, Morgan said he was struck by the beauty of Cryo Cured flower, recalling the finished product’s visual appeal, impressive aromatics, and robust flavor.
“There are other options that dry and cure flower, but in doing so, they shrink the flower as well,” Morgan explained, “It’ll happen naturally, sure, but this natural process starts to change the color and the terpenes. That didn’t happen with Cryo Cure.”
Instantly, Morgan knew he found what would take his hemp cultivation facility to a new level.
Cryo Cure brings a new kind of shelf appeal to industrial hemp
High-THC or low THC, marijuana and hemp are the same plant, with similar advantages and risks in the cultivation process. However, hemp cultivators are often more concerned about shelf appeal that makes or breaks a sale at a hemp shop or CBD store.
“On the hemp side, it’s a different type of sale,” Morgan explained. “Rather than working with a budtender or dispensary associate that can help sell a particular cultivar or product, customers are more often reliant on the aesthetics of product and packaging.”
“And With Cryo Cure,” he continued, “manufacturers can have the same cultivar as others, but the quality and appearance are far different because of the Cryo Cure process.”
Morgan says the level of quality and shelf appeal is what is setting Cryo Cure apart as Hillside Cultivations develops national partnerships and distribution networks for the flower.
“If people want an elevated product,” Morgan said, “[they] will gravitate toward this machine.”
Cryo Cure leadership brings “care and professionalism” to the process
Aside from the flower, of course, Morgan said he was struck by the customer service Cryo Cure provided. From the first email, Morgan said, he felt “an immediately and inherited sense of trust, understanding, and care” with CEO Tracee McAfee and President Greg Baughman.
“Tracee was very prompt, got back to me quickly, and invited me to Michigan to see the machine in person,” Morgan said. “I appreciated all those touches.”
Morgan said Greg collaborated closely to help perfect the settings for each industrial hemp cultivar grown by Hillside Cultivations. Each setting was carefully calculated for the desired phytocannabinoid and terpene profile, moisture levels to help with the flower’s longevity, and even additional machine settings to prepare flower for cannabinoid extraction.
“Greg was here with Cryo Cure’s engineer Larry [Downey] for two full days – the first full day for installation, and the second day to train our staff,” Morgan said. “The care and professionalism they put into the process is beyond what I could imagine. Cryo Cure didn’t miss a beat – it was a pleasure to work with everyone at the company,” Morgan said.
The results are in, and they’re larger than life
With Cryo Cure installed and ready to process their hemp harvest, Hillside Cultivations is eyeing a 2022 nationwide launch as the first distributor of Cryo Cured smokable hemp in the United States. Morgan said the first test run of hemp flower is making a lasting impression on buyers who can’t get enough of Cryo Cure.
“Every time a buyer sees Cryo Cured hemp, they say it’s beautiful with a stunning aroma — they know we are offering something special,” Morgan said.
The shelf appeal is immediate, Morgan added. Innately, Morgan acknowledged, that new texture can throw people off. However, while such large buds may feel like a new novelty for a newcomer trying Cryo Cure for the first time, Morgan said it just takes one introduction to demonstrate all the flower’s advantages.
“The feeling is funny because it’s a totally distinct experience when you’re working with Cryo Cured flower. It’s the opposite of dense; you don’t even need a grinder, which makes it a great option for someone who struggles with dexterity or pain in their hands,” Morgan said. “This new texture is not a bad thing by any means. It’s just different from the norm and takes some getting used to.”
And the feedback doesn’t stop with sales. Morgan added that testing laboratories come back surprised at the high terpene and phytocannabinoid retention present in Cryo Cured hemp samples, often finding trace monoterpenes and minor phytocannabinoids lost during the traditional drying and curing process.
“The lab always asks me about this flower and compliments its appearance and results,” Morgan said.
But the final say lies with customers who, according to Morgan, have quickly and eagerly taken note of Cryo Cure’s smooth smoke.
“People who have tried samples have told us that Cryo Cure is an easier process through and through, from grinding to preparing to actually inhaling,” Morgan notes. “That makes all the difference when working with a product that’s all about its smokable nature.”
Venice Alternative Healing Collective (VAHC) founder Craig Taniguchi wants to stay ahead of the cannabis curve.
As a longtime cultivator in Los Angeles’ bustling, mature cannabis scene, Taniguchi is always on the lookout for unique innovations that can help VAHC stand out in a crowded marketplace. He has seen his share of trends – and flops – over more than 10 years of cultivating craft cannabis flower.
“There are a lot of very good cultivators, strains, and products in Los Angeles, so trying to stand out can be challenging, especially if a dispensary doesn’t carry one of the biggest brands in the city,” Taniguchi said. “We had to offer something truly special to differentiate ourselves from other cultivators.”
Taniguchi came across Cryo Cure flower while searching online for up-and-coming game-changers. While intriguing, he initially regarded Cryo Cure with skepticism: Taniguchi had heard “big talk with small promises” from other cannabis innovators, and few, if any, delivered.
But one Cryo Cure sample changed all that. Now, VAHC is the first cultivator in California to offer Cryo Cured flower to discerning consumers in one of the largest cannabis markets in the United States.
Discovering the Cryo Cure difference
Shortly after learning about Cryo Cure in 2020, VAHC reached out to learn more about how the technology worked. Taniguchi received a sample of Cryo Cured hemp flower so he could see and experience the difference for himself.
Taniguchi was captivated by the size of the bud: Large and fluffy, the Cryo Cured flower barely shrank during the drying and curing process. Cryo Cure’s remarkable terpene retention rate – as high as 95% — contributed to the sample’s unforgettable aroma. The chlorophyll taste was completely absent. Notably, its smooth smoke didn’t make Taniguchi cough like traditionally dried and cured flower sometimes did.
“The Cryo Cured hemp was unbelievable – there was no way that the bud could appear as large as it did, but the shrinkage simply wasn’t there,” Taniguchi said. “And once I opened the jar, the smell could not be compared to anything else I experienced.”
Taniguchi, interested in “streamlining processes” at VAHC, was also intrigued by Cryo Cure’s shortened processing time: The machines cut down the drying and curing process, an endeavor that could last two weeks or more, to as little as 13 hours.
Between the unforgettable consumption experience, the shortened drying and curing time, and the unprecedented technology at play, Taniguchi knew that there was something special to Cryo Cure. Soon after trying that sample, VAHC had a Cryo Cure machine in their facility, ready to process its first harvest.
Preparing for Cryo Cure’s arrival at VAHC
Taniguchi purchased the CC350 model for VAHC’s 28,000-square-foot cultivation facility in downtown Los Angeles. At just a few feet wide and under 15 feet long, the model’s smaller footprint took up minimal space in the facility. The built-in wheels gave VAHC the option to relocate the Cryo Cure machine with ease if needed, too.
To accompany Cryo Cure, VAHC invested in a walk-in freezer that could reach -20°F, the recommended temperature to flash freeze cannabis before it undergoes the Cryo Cure process. (Select Cryo Cure models include a built-in freezer; VAHC opted for a separate unit.) VAHC staff ran tests on several cultivars, fine-tuning precisely how much time each one required in the Cryo Cure machine. All dried and cured in under 24 hours.
“Instead of harvesting the plant, cutting it down, and hanging the branches for traditional drying, we cut down the plant and place it immediately into bucking machines to separate bud from stalk, then put those buds through the Cryo Cure process,” Taniguchi said. “This is basically the fresh frozen method; it saves all the terpenes in an incredible way.”
The freezer and Cryo Cure were set up right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit its peak in Los Angeles. This caused a two-month delay in launching Cryo Cure into the market, as Cryo Cure President Greg Baughman and CEO Tracee McAfee couldn’t travel to LA for training during the peak. But once the peak of infections waned and it was safer to resume in-person activities, VAHC staff trained on how to use Cryo Cure.
“Training was fairly easy, and our staff caught on quickly,” Taniguchi said. “Greg and Tracee are great guides — patient, friendly, and accessible.”
Taniguchi said the first run, which hit the market in early 2021, sold out “immediately.” VAHC has since made five more runs with Cryo Cure technology, with plans to bring Cryo Cure to a second, 40,000-square-foot facility operated by VAHC.
“When I talk to other cultivators trying out freeze dryers, I always point out to them how other methods completely destroy the buds,” Taniguchi said. “Cryo Cure’s results offer an experience no other flower can match.”
Cryo Cured flower is “like a fine wine” for the discerning cannabis consumer
Since the initial drop, VAHC has placed Cryo Cure in LA’s most popular dispensaries, right alongside the biggest cannabis brands in California. Taniguchi said that Cryo Cure is catching on in LA, with more inquiries from dispensaries to carry Cryo Cured flower and unbridled enthusiasm among a demographic of consumers who appreciate the finer notes of cannabis.
“Cryo Cure is like drinking a fine wine or sipping a great tequila,” Taniguchi said.
VAHC educates dispensary associates on the differences between Cryo Cure and other top shelf flower, explaining how Cryo Cure technology preserves trichomes and terpenes for a euphoric, flavorful experience.
“Once someone learns about Cryo Cure and why it’s so different, they say, ‘wow, I need to try that,’” Taniguchi said, noting that it was important to explain to customers how Cryo Cure technology produces better bud, not just a prettier, fluffier one. “With nearly all the terpenes intact, you get the full understanding of why each strain tastes different and you get to experience the full profile of what a strain is meant to taste like. No other flower can do that.”
Taniguchi added he encountered several people who have permanently made the switch to Cryo Cure, noting that the smooth smoke creates an “unparalleled” cannabis experience.
“I meet other people who buy other top shelf cannabis and they can’t stop coughing when they smoke it,” Taniguchi said. “That doesn’t happen with Cryo Cure. This is a smooth smoke, and many people who try it can’t go back.”
As the word about Cryo Cure spreads in LA, Taniguchi is proud that VAHC is the first to bring this innovative line to the Golden State.
“Cryo Cure has caught on to the masses here for its flavor and for the quality of the smoke,” Taniguchi said. “Once people taste it, they know immediately that Cryo Cured cannabis is just completely different.”
What started out as an internet search for cannabis drying solutions turned into a whole new tier of flower for Native Harvest Farms patients.
The medical cannabis dispensary, which has three locations across the Sooner State, is known for its top-tier quality flower, offering carefully curated strains for their patients. When the company started to explore an outdoor grow expansion of their indoor grow operations, Director of Operations Freddy Petrolia started researching drying and curing options that would best fit this larger-scale operation. He stumbled upon an article that touted freeze drying as a potential solution, starting him on a journey that eventually introduced Cryo Cure to Oklahoma’s competitive medical cannabis market.
“Freeze drying was an interesting solution that I had not known much about before,” Petrolia said.
Of all the freeze drying systems and solutions out there, Petrolia narrowed it down to Cryo Cure and several other cannabis-specific options. He sent a few emails and waited – but didn’t need to wait long to hear back from Cryo Cure President Greg Baughman.
“I remember sending out a few emails – it was a Sunday – and Cryo Cure immediately got back to me, even though it was the weekend,” Petrolia said. “I knew right then and there that they cared deeply for their customers and product, and they were the right company to trust with our grow operation.”
While the dispensary has since changed its plans for an outdoor grow, replacing it with a second indoor grow space, what didn’t change was Native Harvest Farms’ need for Cryo Cure’s patent-pending cannabis drying and curing process. Here’s how this transformational technology made a splash at Native Harvest.
Why Native Harvest Farms partnered with Cryo Cure
Several challenges lay ahead as Native Harvest Farms planned their second indoor grow facility. Cryo Cure machines mitigated these costly concerns while producing a top-shelf smokable flower for the dispensary’s customers. Cryo Cure resolved outstanding issues in four key areas — humidity control, space, employee training, and product purity – all with caring and attentive customer service.
Cryo Cure improves climate control in Oklahoma’s humid environment
Oklahoma’s climate is a humid one year-round, presenting several difficulties for those with both indoor and outdoor grow operations. Top priority for Petrolia and Native Harvest Farms was unmatched quality control, as cannabis flower is subjected to much stricter purity standards: without careful oversight of humidity levels, flower could be too contaminated to be sold as a smokable product. With Cryo Cure, medically sensitive patients could confidently purchase the cleanest product possible.
As one of the main causes of mold, mildew, and bud rot, controlling humidity was the first and most important point for Petrolia and Native Harvest Farms.
“You can’t stop the progression of bud rot once it sets in, so controlling this factor was of utmost importance for us,” Petrolia said. “I know several outdoor growers who were limited to the concentrates market because humidity affects cannabis crops so severely that the flower could not be smoked. Without precise humidity, temperature control, and proper airflow, there’s no way to mitigate this.”
Other freeze dryers bring moisture levels down to levels too low for cannabis, but not so for Cryo Cure. The machine’s fine-tuned settings enabled ideal humidity levels for smokable flower while preserving terpene-rich trichomes and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in the process.
“The final product is more potent and vibrant, all while mitigating the risk of bud rot developing from the inside out,” Petrolia said.
The machines are easy to use
Traditional drying and curing are a delicate process which requires detailed training, experience, and practice. In a new medical cannabis market where many dispensary employees were learning the ropes for the first time, one wrong move could prove to be a costly mistake. By using Cryo Cure’s simple programmable settings, dispensary employee training was a much easier process, minimizing the risk of human error.
“Chances of mistakes are effectively removed with Cryo Cure in the picture,” Petrolia said.
Not to mention, with fewer touchpoints and less time spent drying and curing, the risk of contamination rapidly decreased.
“The fewer times the product is touched by human hands, the better, especially with serving patients,” Petrolia said.
Cryo Cure machines save space
As Native Harvest Farms planned for their indoor grow expansion, Cryo Cure proved key to maximizing space. Proper cannabis drying requires plenty of room for airflow, plus all the climate control costs that come with managing such a large area. Cryo Cure eliminates those startup and ongoing maintenance costs for grows of all sizes.
“Instead of building out 1,200 square feet dedicated to drying, you can take this machine that takes up a small fraction of that space and that can be your drying room,” Petrolia said. “That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars, both in profit and in significant savings related to construction and maintenance costs. We can get similar, and even better, results in a fraction of the space with Cryo Cure.”
Coming into frequent contact with cannabis is a part of the drying and curing process. While employees must be dressed head to toe in personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow extensive safety protocol, the fact remains that plant material still encounters human hands multiple times. That could put traditionally dried and cured flower at higher risk for contaminates than Cryo Cure’s shortened 13-hour process, which only requires one “burp.”
“Cryo Cure helped us find a way to limit the number of touches on a product, which is very valuable to us because we are a dispensary that serves a medically sensitive community,” Petrolia said.
Unparalleled customer service
Cryo Cure’s leadership flew to Oklahoma once the machine was delivered. There, Baughman and CEO Tracee McAfee spent several days on the ground with Native Harvest Farms leadership and employees, showing staff members how to use the machines step by step and answering any and all questions along the way.
“Greg walked us through the first Cryo Cure batch, and I took a video to replay as our employees tried it for themselves,” Petrolia said. “The second day, our employees and I went through the steps while Greg supervised.
“After Greg and Tracee left, we continued to go through the steps and take it slow. They provided a thorough manual and instructions that showed us step by step what to do. If you follow their guidance precisely, our employees found the machines easy to operate.”
Whenever any questions arise, Petrolia knows he can pick up the phone at any time.
“Greg and Tracee are always quick to respond,” Petrolia said.
“Platinum tier” Cryo Cured flower is beloved by Native Harvest patients
After the onboarding and training period, Cryo Cure hit Native Harvest’s shelves in November 2020. From the get-go, Petrolia said that patients noticed the Cryo Cure difference: a more aromatic, flavorful, and clear-headed experience due to the high terpene levels and stabilized THC, which does not degrade into Cannabinol (CBN) that can cause the sleepy “couch lock” effect.
“Our patients say that Cryo Cure is a smooth smoke with a better smell and vibrant appearance,” Petrolia said. “Our patients give us lots of positive feedback – they like it a lot.”
The differences in flavor, potency, and visuals were so striking that the dispensary was inspired to create a new “platinum” tier of flower, one that captures patients’ attention the moment they step up to the counter.
While there are certainly many visual cues that set Cryo Cure apart from regular cannabis flower, there are plenty of differences on the molecular level, too. Petrolia noted that test results find higher levels of terpenes and phytocannabinoids than in traditionally dried and cured flower.
“We simply cannot put Cryo Cure and other flower in the same jar – the differences are that great in every sense,” Petrolia said. “While we are known for offering high quality flower, Cryo Cure offers a whole new experience to our patients. Cryo Cure has a bright future in Oklahoma, and we are excited to be at the forefront.”
To learn more about how our technology can help your cannabis or hemp operations, schedule a no-obligation, free consultation with Cryo Cure.
Cryo Cure revolutionizes the cannabis drying and curing process, influencing every step of the cannabis pipeline along the way.