Coffee, traditionally an equatorial crop, is moving further north thanks to cannabis tech. Front Range Biosciences, which produces marijuana plants free of viruses and bacteria, is branching out into other crops like coffee. Frinj Coffee is getting from them more than 3 million plants, or “rooted cuttings,” of lab-engineered coffee that is healthier and more productive.
The cannabis plant has a short life cycle but is as vulnerable to fungi, pests and viruses as any other. When plants are cloned, they benefit from something called clean stock technology because it ensures that the most invader-resistant genetics get passed down.
Clean Stock Technology
Samples of the plant are taken, screened for bacteria and viruses, grown in individual containers, fed the right nutrients and light. The process works well for cannabis and can be replicated with coffee to establish plants that could resist pests and even cold snaps. It’s like a manufacturing process for plants where growers can control the environment; they don’t have to deal with pests and, therefore, pesticides.
In the case of Frinj Coffee, they will take their plants to raise them in a greenhouse, where they will establish a good head start.
Front Range can essentially culture the tissue over and over and over, churning out genetic copies until they build a database of the choicest coffee plants for future use. That means its geisha varietal, which grows so well in this less-than-tropical climate, won’t get bastardized by accidental cross-pollination.
Look for tech advancements like this, inspired by the marijuana plant, to start improving other crops, like bananas and sugar and hops.
Alana seeks to see cannabis from the perspective of politicians, advocates, entrepreneurs, and consumers. She got her start with a byline in the arts and culture section and crossed over into cannabis after using it medicinally. Current projects include investigations into cannabis and wellness; entrepreneurs of the Green Rush; cannabis for athletes; and the evolution of cannabis laws and culture in Canada.