An Interview with Delta 9 Head Grower Bobby Bains
When it Comes to Growing Cannabis – Teamwork is Everything
Delta 9 Head Grower Bobby Bains has a deep-rooted passion for growing high-quality cannabis, and he’s very proud of Delta 9’s successes, but he’s also quick to point out that none of what has been accomplished could have been done without an exceptional team.
“Upper management said they were going to surround me with the best players possible and they’ve done just that,” said the 37-year-old Bains, who is already considered a veteran grower in the Canadian cannabis industry.
“I was ready for this,” said Bains. “But there is a vast amount of communication required between many different stakeholders and departments to make it all work. At peak production, Bobby will have 6-12 junior growers who report on important elements every morning. Is there a compressor or CO2 error? Is there a pump issue? If there’s a plant issue, I’ll try to resolve it. If it’s a mechanical issue, we’ll need one of our specialists. The general contractor, the electrician, the plumber and so on. Light bulbs, ducts, ballasts, plumbing, there are many things to oversee.
“I’m like a coach, and my junior growers are my eyes and ears. They have to be passionate about their work. I can generally tell just by the way they talk about the plants. It’s a very intimate job and everyone has to contribute in order for us to produce great cannabis.”
Delta 9 has opened up a lot of opportunities for young people that in the past might not have been able to get a job. They’re learning from Bains and he’s learning from others at Delta 9.
“You have to become a lifelong student,” said Bains. “I’m always learning from the plants as well as from my contemporaries and the people I work with. I also have to keep up with the constant evolution in growing technologies.”
Bains has always been fascinated by cannabis breeding and genetics. The Winnipeg-born UBC graduate began to think more seriously about cannabis after his long-time girlfriend developed a serious medical condition. She started seeing a pain management specialist, but nothing worked, so Bains suggested she try cannabis edibles.
“They worked,” said Bains. “She felt like getting out of bed in the morning again. They took her pain away and brought her appetite back. We connected with a doctor we knew and he helped us get access to medical cannabis in Canada. After that I started thinking maybe there was something bigger here.
“I was well versed in government literature and there was a program called the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) for patients, but few individuals could get access to it. I began making more connections in the industry and it just started to snowball. I thought about building infrastructure for both mega grows and licensing, just to help everyone in need, and my grow went from five lights to 10, to 20, to 100 to 500 to 1,000 and finally to a building the size of a superstore.”
A Day In the Life of a Head Grower
Bains starts his day at 8 a.m. doing mechanical checks on the Grow Pods, checking the lighting, making sure the water pumps and feed systems are working, looking for any deficiencies or toxicities. He then meets with the Production Manager and the junior growers, and together they make a game plan for the day.
“Once you have the experience you can walk into a Grow Pod and you can feel if something is wrong right away,” said Bains. “You can sense it. If we notice a problem, we try to nip it in the bud quickly. We figure out a solution and implement it. It would be disingenuous for me to say everything goes perfectly all the time.”
A good grower learns from everything, and much of the knowledge Bains and his team have gained over the years has come from fixing failures and navigating a lexicon of problems.
What separates experienced growers from someone who is just beginning isn’t how well they can grow cannabis when everything is going well, it’s how they adjust when something falls apart. How fast can you can you assess the problem and fix it? What are the symptoms? Is it the environment, the substrate, the pH, a technical issue or something within the plants themselves?
“In the coming months we’re going to have 300 different grows and each one will be unique,” said Bains. “A different strain, a different hybrid, flowering at a different time, each in their own environment. Depending on the building where the actual Grow Pod is located, there can be a change in humidity or other factors that effect the grow environment. Location of intake and exhaust fans in the building can make a difference, as can the weather.
“Everything has to be adjusted as necessary to produce the best quality cannabis. Environment and genetics are mutually inclusive. Environment may be even more important when you consider that you can take an amazing seed and put it in a poor environment and create a terrible product.
“Everything depends on Delta 9 growing cannabis that people want to buy. The more you produce the more you learn. The industry demands bigger, stronger and faster and Delta 9 is on the cutting edge of achieving that.
Bains likes growing hybrids because you never really know what you’re going to get. He says Indica strains are more for pain management and relaxing, while Sativa strains offer a cerebral high and are preferred for doing things that are more outgoing and artistic. If you have a night out during the summer, or you’re at the cottage, smoke a Sativa strain. You want to be out there relaxing and having fun.
Bains named 13 Dawgs and Super Lemon Haze as two of his favourite Delta 9 strains.
“13 Dawgs (Indica) is perfect for a cold winter night when you want to stay in and relax,” said Bains. “Order some pizza with your friends, chill out, eat some great food, watch movies and play video games. Super Lemon Haze (Sativa) is more upbeat, really nice for having fun, going camping, staying up together all night. It’s more artistic, and people enjoy it for creative pursuits like painting, pottery making, dancing and writing. It’s motivating.”
Creating a Customer-First Culture
“There’s more than just profits behind Delta 9,” said Bains. “We’re a local Manitoba company that believes in providing the best possible product for our customers. We have the safest cannabis and it contains absolutely no pesticides or heavy metals. It’s hand-trimmed, craft-quality cannabis created under very strict conditions.”
You will always be able to find cheap weed produced at large scale, but connoisseur-level cannabis has to be hand-trimmed. Think of it as a distinction similar to the differences between a $2 whiskey and a $10 whiskey. Delta 9 has found a happy medium between growing fast and producing a high-quality product, but we are always striving for better.
“I’m driven to be the best,” said Bains. “It’s an obsession of mine. It’s intellectual gratification, a personal challenge. Can you take something, and can you make it the best? Can you be the catalyst to do this. Can you make something that no one has made before and obsess over it to the point where it is so fundamentally exceptional that no one can argue against the fact that it’s one of the very best. It’s not about the credit. It’s about the feeling. The challenge is to prove that an LP has the ability to grow the best quality cannabis. Delta 9 will never be the biggest, so we have to position ourselves as one the best.
“I think the way we’ll come across to the public is that we are always being innovative with our products,” said Bains “We’re constantly evolving with the demand of our market, our clients and our customers. New genetics will find their way to Delta 9, our passion for excellence will shine through in our products, and the public will love them.”
The future is green for Delta 9.