Growing the Industry: Q&A with Jeff Gumaer of Proper Cannabis
Bringing in over $200 million in 2021, Missouri’s medical marijuana market is growing. While publicly much of the focus remains on dispensaries and retail, Growing the Industry looks to highlight and introduce the individuals behind the plants that Missouri’s market is built on.
One of the state’s most recognizable names and brands also produces many of the most popular cannabis cultivars. Proper Cannabis has brought strains like Alien Rock Candy, Bordello, Cherry Bubblegum, Love Affair, and so many others to dispensary shelves around the state – and is consistently met with positive reviews.
In this edition of Growing the Industry, we speak to Jeff Gumaer, Director of Cultivation for Proper Cannabis to learn a bit more about what makes great cannabis, Proper.
“I was born in Austin, Texas but raised in Webster Groves, MO,” Gumaer explained. “In 2002 I moved to Michigan and eventually Illinois to play “junior” hockey. From there I continued my hockey career at the Division 1 level in Boston, and a brief stint at the “AA” level professionally in Tulsa, OK.”
“I moved to Denver at the beginning of 2011 mainly to ski and be in a cool city with friends and, at that time, medical cannabis. After 8 1/2 years in Denver, I was fortunate to be approached about joining Proper and moving back home.”
Now back in Missouri, Gumaer directs a facility producing perpetually growing thousands of plants.
“At our current footprint, we have a total flowering canopy of about 17,000 sqft on a two-tier vertical platform. In total, we have 6 flower rooms, 3 vegetative rooms, and a propagation room. Between all rooms, we have 13,000-15,000 plants at any given time. Veg spaces have a combination of 1, 2, and 3 tier racking to maximize cubic feet and plant count.”
“At this scale, we use coco coir as our media with a fully automated fertigation system. We have the ability to amend the media via Dosatron and manually execute wand drenches local in each room.
We always propagate more than we need, transplant in veg more than we need, so that we can select the healthiest possible flower plants.
Maintaining canopy at each stage is crucial to minimize stretch in a multi-tier setup,” Gumaer explained.
What came first for you, a passion for plants or cannabis?
I would say a passion for cannabis. When I moved to Colorado in 2011, I began cultivating for myself well before I entered the commercial space. Over time, what was a hobby quickly became more than just a desire to have affordable medicine for myself.
What does medical marijuana mean to you?
To me, medical marijuana means cultivating a wide variety of strains to provide treatment for a plethora of ailments and conditions. Currently, consumer/patient demand is largely driven by THC concentration, but I believe it’s our responsibility to have varying levels of potency and cannabinoid content so that we have something for everyone when they visit a dispensary. At the end of the day, we want people to be more comfortable, and that sometimes means having lower potency offerings for someone who may not have the same tolerance as someone who has been immersed in cannabis culture for a long time.
How are you preparing your genetics for the future?
We have begun germinating some seeds to refresh our genetic list. We have also phased out some of the original catalog that just doesn’t fit our crop schedule or current layout very well.
We are also preparing the building for more research and development capabilities, including harvesting our own seeds, gathering pollen and tissue culture.
What is the biggest obstacle you face with a grow like this?
Working on the second tier can be difficult. Managing micro-climates across all the rooms. Training a new talent pool in a young market, as well.
What’s your favorite cannabis cultivar and why?
ARC (Alien Rock Candy) and LeeRoy TK #5. I like gas and calming effects, which really help to keep me focused. I’ve grown ARC my entire commercial cannabis career. It grows vertically and the canopy can be created by strategically placing plants, more so than a lot of other cultivars. LeeRoy is the opposite, but I like that you have to use the whole ‘tool bag’, if you will, to create the ideal canopy.
In your opinion, what’s the best way to smoke cannabis?
My nostalgic self enjoys smoking flower on most occasions but with the quality of live resin and live badder that our manufacturing team is producing, I find myself going that route in the evenings after a long day.