Emerald Triangle, Napa Valley, and Silicon Valley: Soil/Geology and Climate


Over the past few months we’ve embarked upon a series comparing the emergence of Silicon Valley’s tech industry, Napa County’s wine industry, and Humboldt County’s cannabis industry. We’ve all heard comparisons like these:

“Humboldt County grows some of the finest cannabis in the world… [which] could lead to a booming niche marijuana market, the type that would make the county what Napa is to wine.” –The Revolution Starts Here by Thadeus Greeson in The North Coast Journal

“… we are the ‘Silicon Valley’ of cannabis… we have a great deal of knowledgeable people living here – a pool of people who would be useful to draw upon for information about growing.” – Welcome to Pot City! by Kym Kemp in The North Coast Journal

It’s common to hear Emerald Triangle compared to these regions and their respective industries. Humboldt County has a long-standing reputation for being home to some of the world’s best cannabis. Hearing this comparison we decided to delve a little deeper, we decided research what led to the emergence of Silicon’s tech industry and Napa’s wine industry, and compare them to the emergence of Humboldt’s cannabis industry. We examined Napa and Silicon Valley as ideal types, conducting a meta-analysis to deduce potential variables that led to the rise of these industry epicenters.

In our first piece we identified four factors that lead to the birth of Silicon Valley’s tech industry: (1) a concentration of talented/skilled researchers, (2) venture capital, (3) creative entrepreneurs, and (4) government spending.

In our second piece, we identified six themes that lead to the rise of Napa Valley’s wine industry: (1) soil and geology, (2) climate, (3) viticulture, (4) winemaking, (5) history, and (6) leadership.

In all, we established ten variables that lead to the rise of Napa County and Silicon Valley. The presence of these variables created the conditions that lead to the rise of the respective epicenters of the wine and tech industries. The variables we’ve distilled are (1) soil/geology, (2) climate, (3) viticulture or “cannaculture” (4) winemaking or “hashmaking” or “ediblemaking,” (5) history, and (6) leadership/cooperation (7) talent/researchers, (8) venture capital, (9) entrepreneurs, and (10) government support.

Theoretically, if these variables are present in Humboldt County/Emerald Triangle they may help this region become the epicenter of the legal cannabis industry. The following will drive a conversation around these variables. It is not intended to be an academic piece. A dissertation could be written on each of these 10 topics (and we will delve deeper on pertinent topics in the future). For this article, we will give an overview of (1) soil/geology and (2) climate.

The following will provide some dialogue on emerald triangles’ soil/geology and climate as it pertains to cannabis cultivation in the region:

Soil and Geology

Does Humboldt/Emerald have optimal soil and geology for growing cannabis?

IMG_0171According to Jorge Cervantes grow bible, loam soil with the correct texture, pH, and nutrient content is ideal for growing cannabis. From our experience cannabis likes soil with a neutral pH of 6.0, slightly lower for hydro. Texture should be aerated with increased organic matter and relatively high nutrient content.

Humboldt and Emerald are home to loamy soil, but many areas exhibit clay like properties. Clay soils are common in higher elevation where erosion has washed away much of the topsoil. Acidic unfertile soil exists in areas around pine forest (i.e. around Redwoods).

With that said, many cannabis farmers don’t plant in existing soil. Amending existing soil can take years so many farmers opt to purchase topsoil mixed specifically for cannabis cultivation. This soil is trucked in and used in raised beds or large pots.

Humboldt/Emerald is home to some well-known soil producers such as Royal Gold and Fox Farm, and many other small soil producers. Soilscape Solutions and Dirty Business Divas provide consulting and testing for nutrient content and microbiology. Our region provides access to many experts on soil geology. Since cannabis is annual the roots do not travel as deep as grape vines therefore roots reside closer to the surface making the importation of topsoil viable.

Although Humboldt/Emerald may not have ideal natural occurring soil to grow cannabis, experts provide quality soil for cannabis cultivation. After initial purchase, top quality consultants help amend and reuse soil for years.


Is Humboldt/Emerald climate ideal for cannabis agriculture?

cannabis rowThere is no straightforward answer to this question. There are many varieties of cannabis: Indica and sativa, a million hybrids, ruderalis, and hemp varieties for fiber, etc. Indica comes from mountainous regions of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. It’s said that these varieties such as Kush thrive in dry mountain regions with coastal influence. Sativa derives from tropical areas and subsequently grows well in tropical climates near the equator.

When growing in climate controlled conditions of a greenhouse or indoor grow room, its standard to keep the climate at 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% humidity. 

Obviously this is not possible outdoors therefore selecting and breeding varieties that thrive in particular microclimates of Humboldt/Emerald is paramount. 

At this years’ Ganjier Spring Kick Off, during the speaker series Frenchy Canoli gave his analysis of this very topic. For Frenchy, the basis of terroir is heirloom climate driven varieties of cannabis produced over decades of selective breeding in a particular region. Here’s is a brief snippet of what he had to say:

“Here in the Emerald Triangle, in Santa Cruz, in Chico, everywhere where there is uniqueness to the land, where [there is] a specific climate… [and] micro climates. When you add to that genetics that have been grown for generations [and] become heirloom genetics, and its known by the people, you have something that cannot be reproduced anywhere else in the world.”

Stay tuned for our next piece in this series on canna-culture and hash making

Agree? Disagree? Want to add something… Let us know what you think in the comment section below!


2 responses to “Emerald Triangle, Napa Valley, and Silicon Valley: Soil/Geology and Climate

  1. Fertilized advertisment.i tried the most elementally complete fertilizer.inland sea phytoplankton on pot.no gain in self reinforcing 9-thc.alot of unnesesary elements.it is human food that needs nutrition.not drug production.alot of nutrition for destructive domonic acid bloom.poison algae.


  2. way to go “legalizing” it… up here we have our weed and thats about it and now weee to be expected to bring it to a clinic get ripped off AND taxed for it ugghhh thanks everyone that voted that in i was never for it because its all we have here so its as if id just finally gotten a considerable raise and got told oh wait never mind get back on dishes AND give us a chunk of your profits also. now that the government can make money off lf it its suddenly ok to smoke weed after like 60 years of demonizing it as a hardcore narcotic and youll be holding ul liquor stores and rapin a child or two in no time! fuck you if you come help with the entire process of growing and cultivating it that ya sure but not for no reason and also pay me crap for it anyway.


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