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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”