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Monday March 14, 2022

By Paul Barach

image of Sugarleaf Farm's indoor hydroponic set up with many rows of light green, blooming cannabis being held up by trellis Growing

For part 3 of our Growing Weed in Washington series, PotGuide sat down with Travis Royce of Sugarleaf Farms to learn about the benefits of rock wool as a medium, the challenges of growing in wetter climates, and why Washington weed is so hyped, even in Wyoming.

Sugarleaf Farms is an indoor grow operation nestled in the northwestern Skagit Valley, an agricultural river valley bordered by the San Juan islands and the volcanic Glacier Peak and Mt. Baker. Sugarleaf farms is a part of Umbrella Industries, a cannabis conglomerate.

Interview with Sugarleaf Farms

[Paul Barach]: What’s your experience growing weed in Washington? Why’d you pick Sedro-Wooley?

[Travis Royce]: Sedro-Wooley is very open to cannabis companies [there are six located in this city of 12,000 people.] Once they opened it up to growers they were getting a lot more tax revenue. They’re always kind to us…if someone complains about odor they…give us a chance to fix it. Inspectors are great and willing to work with us. I believe that’s why the original owners set up here.

[PB]: What are some of the benefits of growing weed in Sedro-Wooley?

[TR]: The city is happy with us and water and power out here are pretty inexpensive.

[PB]: Any challenges?

[TR]: We’re a big indoor grow in a metal building, so there’s a lot of dealing with the elements. We had to put a new roof on because of moisture damage. When you’re [moving out here from] a dry, arid area to grow, you really gotta relearn things like HVAC systems.

[PB]: What are some weed strains that grow well out there?

[TR]: A lot of the Landrace strains that come from humid regions and a lot of gassy strains grow well here. Our Landslide does really great and our DJ Short is phenomenal.

Picture of up close DJ Short Flo cannabis nugget that is light green with red hairs and dusted with trichomes.
DJ Short is one of the strains that thrives at Sugarleaf Farms.

[PB]: Any challenging strains?

[TR]: We had a great strain called Huckleberry Soda…we had to stop growing it because it was a Powdery Mildew magnet. If I was growing it in [a dry environment] like Wyoming it’d be great, but it just costs too much to grow for what we could charge. Heartbreaker is another phenomenal strain that we just had to stop growing for the same reason.

[PB]: Do you have any special growing practices that you use? Why?

[TR]: Everything’s getting micro-watered throughout the day so we’re not wasting water or [flushing out] nutrients. We can adjust [watering] on the fly [depending on the strain’s needs].

We use 6x6 rock wool cubes as our growing medium…so we control 100% of what goes into the plant. Too many times we’ve messed with the soils and there’ll be something in there…like heavy metals, that screws the plant over…We’re trying to sell a good, clean product…and when you’re growing with soil you’re kinda messing with that. That’s how we feel, but if you talk to other growers they’ll tell you just the opposite.

example of the rock wool, hydroponic set up with cannabis plants growing out of yellow-green 6x6 cubes
Take a closer look at a rock wool set up. photo credit

[PB]: What marijuana strains are you most hyped about growing?

[TR]: DJ Short…checks off all the boxes for me. We really like the gassy strains, we have some Mai Thai crosses that we’re really stoked about. Our Sonic Chronic is quickly becoming a fan favorite. Landslide is another fantastic strain.

[PB]: Have you grown anywhere else?

[TR]: I’ve grown in Colorado, Wyoming, and we got a consultant grower who grows all over the states in California, Oklahoma, Detroit. But it’s almost like a small world up here [in Washington.] You can call up another grower and say “Hey, I’m having this problem, what would you do?” and we can do the same and share everything we know and help each other out.

[PB]: What in your opinion sets Washington weed apart?

Even when I was growing in Wyoming and you got a strain from Washington, you knew it was going to be good. You knew, like, “All the good strains come out of Washington.” Then I moved here and found out why. Effects are almost secondary...they’re into terpenes, and aromas. So it’s really a culture out here, like wine snobs. So it can be great and it can also be a pain in the butt sometimes (laughs).

Thanks for talking to PotGuide!

Photo Credit: Sugarleaf Farms


Paul Barach Paul Barach

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

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