This article is presented by Rx Green Technologies, providing specialty agricultural products designed with the cannabis industry in mind.
“We couldn’t figure it out,” recalls Shara Ross, lead field scientist at the cannabis input company Rx Green Technologies. A client’s cannabis crop was failing to thrive, but on paper, everything looked fine. “Everything checked out to be within normal ranges for optimal growth, but they were having really strange growth patterns, with a lot of tissue necrosis and a lot of plant yellowing.”
When it comes to plant health, it can be challenging to know which diagnostics to run. For this problem, Ross had to go beyond her usual checklist, ordering an extra water test that found toxic levels of herbicide in the greenhouse’s water. The cultivators changed their water supply and a normal, healthy crop returned.
It was a tough problem. But solving tough cannabis cultivation problems is all in a day’s work for Ross, who came from the agriculture world to Rx Green six years ago. Now, she works as the company’s secret weapon in the field, tackling everything from research papers to cannabis grow consultations to troubleshooting crop issues for clients.
This kind of hands-on experience gives Rx Green intimate knowledge of their own products—like their GROW A&B formulas, designed to supplement vegetative growth, and AXIOM, which uses naturally derived harpin proteins to stimulate the plant’s growth and defense systems. But tending a crop doesn’t stop at the supplements, and neither does Rx Green.
“In the agricultural world, it’s very common if you’re purchasing a product, usually you have the resources of that product supplier available to you,” says Ross. That wasn’t the case when she started in the cannabis industry, where growers’ main resources often ended up being the sales rep at the hydroponics store.
“We wanted to bring a little more of the technology and the resources that are common in agriculture into the cannabis space,” says Ross. “I’ve traveled all over the country applying the knowledge that I had from agriculture while also learning about the different ways that things are done in the cannabis industry.”
Getting to Know Grows
While her agricultural background helps Ross to support commercial cannabis grow operations—it is, after all, a crop—it’s a special plant with special needs, stemming out of a culture that was largely underground until recently.
“Several years ago, people were edgier about meeting our team and sharing their practices,” says Ross. “A lot of people spent blood, sweat, and tears to figure out their systems, and they didn’t want other people stealing their ideas or trying to tell them how things should be.”
With more and more states legalizing cannabis, though, Rx Green hopes to bring expertise aboveground in a way that’s transparent and helpful. By listening to clients, they’re learning more and more about what matters to growers—and what it takes to cultivate a great crop.
“One of the papers on our website details the best practices for running a drip irrigation system, and that whole thing was driven by my observations of multiple facilities that were transitioning from hand watering irrigation to these more automated systems,” explains Ross. “A lot of the suppliers of those parts didn’t really offer much of a hands-on consultative approach, so we saw a need to provide cultivators with a primer on running a system like that.”
Developing New Ways to Help
Those conversations sometimes evolve into products that meet a need specific to cannabis growers. Rx Green’s new Clean Coco line, for example, is a growing media that’s been lab-tested for safe and organic growing standards. “That was driven by our observations of people dealing with a lot of inconsistencies with product quality and reliability in the growing media area,” explains Ross.
That time in the field isn’t just about research and development, though. It’s about getting to know the customers and understanding their needs.
“You have to be engaged with fine details and small touches to really understand any cannabis grow,” says Brian Tirey, a cannabis grow veteran who now serves as Rx Green’s sales manager in the Mountain Region and works closely with Ross. “The work we do in the field is key to understanding how we can best serve our clients and help them be successful.”
Building a Knowledge Base
Rx Green isn’t just shaping the future of cultivation, though. The expertise they get from problem solving in the field also helps to educate everyone on the team. The company’s sales reps get regular briefings on the latest science from Ross, for example. These same calls give sales reps and others the opportunity to share obstacles they’ve encountered and come away with valuable insights from their colleagues.
“The collective knowledge of our whole sales team is just constantly being elevated and elevated and elevated,” says Tirey. “Sharing our experiences in the field helps make everyone on our team better equipped to serve our customers, wherever they are and whatever problem they’re experiencing.”
That, in turn, helps each member of the Rx Green team work toward the company’s main goal: growing lasting relationships with cannabis growers and breeders based on trust.
“The relationships we have with customers are built through time and interaction—through us being there for them and being a dependable resource,” says Tirey. “That kind of relationship, there’s no shortcut to building it. You can only do it by showing up and getting your hands dirty alongside the people doing the work every day.”