Growing Green: Talking Shop with Tom Scoble, Founder of Mother Magnolia Medicinals
Need growing hints, tips and advice? Look no further! Tom Scoble of Mother Magnolia Medicinals stopped by the GreenSea offices to join our Talking Shop series. In it, he discusses the Oregon recreational cannabis market, tips for upcoming growers and a few of his trade secrets. Read the full interview with Scoble below.
Author – Max Richardson-Davis
Edited by Noah Persin & Jon Russell
Maxwell Davis, GreenSea Distribution: Hi Tom, thanks for taking the time to sit with me. For those not already familiar with you or your company Mother Magnolia Medicinals, would you take a moment to introduce yourself?
Tom Scoble, CEO/Founder of Mother Magnolia Medicinals, Inc. (M3): Yes, thanks for having me, Maxwell. It’s always a good time hanging out with the GreenSea team. My name is Tom Scoble, founder and lead cultivator for Mother Magnolia Medicinals.
Maxwell: When did you first start growing cannabis?
Tom: In 1992, back in UCLA, one of my best buddies at college, his dad started Hydro Farm. So, one day in school, we were smoking some weed and he was, “Dude, we can totally grow some weed!” He said he Dad could hook us up with the lights and a little hydro set-up. So, in our two bedroom closet, we set it up so one room was veg and one room was flower. We killed it!
My buddy managed to procure some Super Skunk #1 cuts, he hooked us up and we grew these giant, short little hydroponic beasts.
And, that’s how I first started growing!
Took a little break from it for a while there, until we set-up the farm, and then it was back on.
Maxwell: Do you grow indoor, outdoor or both?
Tom: We only grow indoor. I think that as we iterate and as the process evolves, I could see us adding a really nice high-end greenhouse. I don’t think in our area, due to the aerial spraying that happens out there in the agricultural belt, I don’t think outdoor is viable. I could see the cross-contamination would be a nightmare with the testing requirements.
Maxwell: When did you guys first open the Mother Magnolia Medicinals?
Tom: We opened the farm about 14 months ago. That’s when we really started the build out of the farm, at least. The barn retro fit is almost done, but really, it’s been close to a year of working seven days a week to get that up and running.
Maxwell: Jeez, sounds like a lot of work.
Tom: Oh yeah, haha, it’s been a ton of work.
Maxwell: Personally, what’s your favorite strain you’ve ever grown?
Tom: I am going to say Alpha Blue, of course. It’s my current favorite for a number of reasons.
I think that, as a grower, there are so many variables that go into creating an enjoyable product and an enjoyable experience. With certain strains, you’re constantly pushing a boat with a rope because of certain issues that go with that strain, certain challenges that come with it.
For me, what’s so gratifying about a strain like Alpha Blue is that, besides the terpenes and the notes that it has, it’s a great producer. I compare it to a really strong Running Back; it just goes and goes and goes and you’re not really worried about fussing with it. It’s not temperamental. If it’s a little too hot or too cold, it will survive. It doesn’t get stressed when it doesn’t receive the right nutrients. It’s really pretty bulletproof. That makes it enjoyable to grow because the tolerances, as far as the inputs and responses it gives, are very generous.
Having said that, I’ve got two strains that are in flower right now that I’m really excited about. One is this Galactic Animal Cookies strain from Bay Exclusive Seeds, that’s a Girl Scout Cookies-dominant strain. And then I’ve got the Super Glue Haze, out of Relentless Genetics, which is an Elmer’s Glue crossed with the Super Silver Haze. Both of those strains I am extremely excited about.
Maxwell: I remember working at Next Level Wellness, a dispensary that sold quite a bit of the Galactic Animal Cookies Bay Exclusive Seeds. I remember lots of customers coming back happy, showing off their work.
Tom: Yeah, definitely. I don’t think it will be a big yielder, but I think the flowers are going to be really spectacular.
Maxwell: What are your favorite nutrient brands at the moment?
Tom: I am a BioBizz guy. BioBizz is the basis of our fertility program. From there, our biology is grounded in EarthFort’s products. So, EarthFort makes the Provide and the Revive. Those are sort of the basis of our compost teas that we do. And, I will say, I got to give some love to chicken fuel too. Chicken fuel is what I’ve been using as the foundation of the teas we’ve been doing. Our growing cycle goes: feed, feed, tea. Two nutrient deployments, which are usually three days apart and then a third cycle of a strong dose of biology, which is just pure tea.
I also like the Be-1. Be-1 is a great amino acid base that works as a catalyst for the biology in EarthFort. That’s another huge one for us. And then I use SLF-100 for the enzymatic scrub down. Those are some of my current favorites.
Maxwell: Is there anything about your growing technique that makes your product especially different?
Tom: Ha, maybe. I think there are plenty of people that are doing this now. Everything we do is soil grown, of course, which is not incredibly unique. Really, I think the main difference is found in our lighting system. Our approach is now driven entirely by the LED technology we’ve been using. We use fixtures from Fluence BioEngineering. So, is our flower especially different because of the LED technology? Well, I guess if you’re looking at the amount of energy we’re using to produce a pound of flower, than yes, we are especially different. The energy consumption and our sense of being mindful of being as “green,” as we can to continue doing what we’re doing is different. I think that the way that the flowers are expressing their terpene profiles shows this. The way that we are able to deliver photons to the canopy is very unique compared to the traditional HPS approach.
Maxwell: Now, you’ve had your recreational license in Oregon for some time now. During this transitional phase, many Oregonian companies had to cease operations or, in some cases, close shop entirely. How has the Oct. 1st deadline affected your business?
Tom: You know, fortunately we’ve managed fairly well. To me, the biggest change was the contraction of the dispensary market. As producers, our end game is to bring our flower to market and get it in the hands of the consumer. Of course, that market has shrunk since the deadline. Really it just forced me to get more aggressive with going farm to table. Instead of waiting around on wholesale distribution, which unfortunately wasn’t in place yet, I had to just go around to dispensaries directly. That is how my business was able to get through it, just by staying focused and localizing our goals. I feel like once we get through this last December/January transition, we’ll be the through the worst of it. Already, from our first harvest as a recreational producer until now, we’ve seen over 80 dispensaries come online. The addressable market is expanding daily at this point and I think we’ll continue to see that for some time.
Maxwell: Specifically, how has the issue of getting your product tested through the accredited laboratories gone?
Tom: No, I actually haven’t had any issues with testing. The general consensus amongst the growers I interact with is that the testing numbers have gone down. We’ve seen that a little bit. Having said that, I think that it’s a level playing field and we have, at this point, accepted the fact that there is a new standard in the testing protocols. The cost of the labs for us as producers has remained unchanged. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the entire industry. Obviously, the concentrates and edibles testing requirements have been a disaster.
Maxwell: Do you have any advice you’d like to pass on to others in the industry right now?
Tom: The old adage, “Do what you do and do it well,” is more important than ever. Stay in your lane and, whatever it is that you do, do it to the best of your ability with the highest of standards.
At Mother Magnolia, we continue to build our brand on Alpha Blue. It’s our niche strain; no one else is running it. We want to perfect it and make the strain the main workhorse in our stable. We want to be known as the Alpha Blue farm! Really, if I were going to give advice, it would be: do something very specific and do it very well.
Maxwell: Do you like using the new METRC system to track your plants? Has it changed production in any capacity?
Tom: Yeah, I actually love it. It’s fantastic. Initially, I was very nervous about integrating it. You go to the METRC training, everything’s theoretical, it seems complicated and you’ve got all these different operations to remember. Then, when it comes to the reality of using it, you realize the program is a breeze. It’s easy to use and very well designed. It’s very user friendly.
Maxwell: Have there been any unforeseen positives or negatives using the METRC system?
Tom: Yeah, just positives. It’s really easy to use! It’s user interface made for a pleasant surprise. It was easy for my farm to implement. I will say, I’d definitely recommend buying a scanner gun in addition to the program. It helps when transferring the plants room-to-room as they change phases. Instead of counting and remembering what plants I put where, I can just scan them and keep moving.
Maxwell: Besides Mother Magnolia, of course, who are some of your favorite cannabis brands?
Tom: Believe it or not, I am actually not a huge cannabis user. As a fan, I’m really most drawn to farms that I follow online. My main interface with farms comes down to Instagram and the way that I look at their images, their grow facilities, their flowers. I’ve become sort of this cyber fan of these farms out there. I want to know what other brands are using for lighting, for nutrients, what their canopies look like, what their final product looks like. As far as specific brands go, I love Heroes of the Farm, Deschutes Growery and Phantom Farms. Deschutes Growery just did a huge solar installation on their facility that I thought was incredibly badass. Sometimes I get “Grower’s Envy,” when I see how awesome some of these Oregon farms are becoming. It’s inspirational to see growers operating on that large of a level.
Maxwell: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, Tom. Mother Magnolia Medicinals is producing an incredible array of flower and I can’t wait to try your next batch! When can Oregon consumers expect that, by the way? And, if this isn’t too much of a spoiler, what strains are you currently growing?
Tom: Our Alpha Blue is just getting back from labs and should be set for market this week. Our Super Glue Haze will be ready in January. On the heels of the Super Glue Haze, we have Lion’s Milk coming out, a Bodhi Seeds strain.
Maxwell: That sounds awesome, Tom. I know I am certainly looking forward to trying some more of your flower. I, like the rest of the GreenSea staff, appreciate you taking the time to give us a tour of your farm and answering these questions. Thank you, Tom!
Tom: Thanks for having me, it was a blast.