BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) — Walking through the entrance to Dakota Herb dispensary on 9th Ave. in Brandon, customers are met first with a waiting room and a security window to the immediate left.
Once signed in and verified as a medical patient, you would then be directed through the door at the opposite end of the waiting room and into the brightly lit dispensary.
“Our bud-tenders are well versed in the product and can really tailor your needs — how you want to consume — and then make recommendations,” said Dalton Grimmius, CEO of Dakota Herb.
Grimmius, along with CFO, Joe Stavig, showed KELOLAND News around the Brandon facility, where Dakota Herb product is not only sold, but also grown.
The company’s cultivation facility in Brandon is not yet fully operational, with the pair walking us first through the main flower room, currently under construction.
“This will be 2,700 sq./ft. of flower space,” said Grimmuis, motioning around the room. “We’ll harvest a table a week so we have a perpetual growth cycle here.”
With nine tables in the flower room, and a nine week average growth cycle, Dakota Herb should be able to move from table to table each week, always with a supply of flower ready to be harvested.
This growth cycle helps to guarantee a stead supply of product to the dispensary, with plants staggered in terms of growth cycle so as to create a system where there are no gaps between harvest periods.
Grimmius said that once the room was up and running, they expect to harvest 25 pounds of flower each week.
Moving into the next room, we found the building’s propagation area.
“The plants receive 18 hours of light, and 6 hours of darkness,” explained Grimmius in this room. “That keeps them in the vegetative growth phase, so they’re continuing to produce just leaf and plant biomass.”
Grimmius went on to explain that the plants will not produce any THC until the light is increased to 8-12 hours per day.
In addition to allowing the plants to grow and mature without entering the harvest phase, the propagation stage is also where the mother plants are maintained.
“A kind of misconception with cannabis is that you start from seed,” Grimmius said. “You don’t typically do that. We typically start from clones. We’ll have a mother plant that we know produces well — so we just want to clone that one over and over again.”
That cloning process is much simpler than some may expect. Essentially you take a cutting from the mother plant, place it into a solution of oxygenated water, and allow it to grow roots before transferring it to soil.
The benefit to cloning, as explained by Grimmius, is that you are getting a genetic replica of a plant you know meets your needs.
“If you start from a seed, it’s no different than a parent with multiple children. They’re all gonna have a little bit different traits,” Grimmius said.
By cloning rather than growing from seed, producers are able to provide a product with a consistent level of things such as THC content.
Once the plants are moved from the propagation room into a flower room (Dakota Herb is currently utilizing two temporary flower rooms), they will begin to produce the THC laden buds, AKA flower, that many think of as marijuana.
Once the plants are ready to be harvested, they will be dried.
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to drying flower; natural drying vs forced drying.
With forced drying, which sounds more severe than may be warranted, a processor uses artificial means to dry out the flower, bringing it more quickly to a stage where it can be utilized.
Natural drying, on the other hand, is just as it sounds. The plants are cut and hung on a rack, where they are left to dry just as any branch or flower of another plant would. This is the route Dakota Herb will be pursuing. In addition to other factors, Grimmius says that natural drying helps to preserve the unique flavors of each strain.
The Brandon facility is not the only one operated by Dakota Herb, which has a second cultivation facility in Lincoln County on the south edge of Sioux Falls. Once both facilities are up and running, Grimmius forecasts a weekly harvest of 125 pounds of flower between the two locations.
In addition to the two grow facilities in Brandon and the south edge of Sioux Falls, Dakota Herb also has dispensary licenses in Brandon, Aberdeen, Vermillion and Huron.
Within the dispensary in Brandon, products currently include flower, pre-rolled joints, vape cartridges, gummies and tinctures.
While a portion of the flower and pre-rolls sold at Dakota Herb are Big Sioux Bud products (Dakota Herb’s retail brand), other products are supplied Shangri-La (another Brandon cultivator), Dakota Natural Solutions (Wessington) and Badlands Cannabis, which is the retail brand of 605 Cannabis (Lincoln County).
While the selection of Big Sioux Bud products is likely to grow in the future as the facility harvests more product, Grimmius hopes that the partnerships between companies can continue.
“We anticipate carrying products from everybody in order to give that customer that whole offering,” said Grimmius. “We can’t grow every strain or provide every edible — so we look to partner with other manufacturers and cultivators to fill that void.”