"They call it Crop-tober, and it primarily affects outdoor grows in southern Colorado and northern California, around mid-September through October," explains Karson Humiston, founder of cannabis employment recruiter Vangst.
Unlike indoor cultivations, outdoor cannabis grows are only harvested once a year. And, as with many other crops, harvest time for that cannabis is in the fall. According to Humiston, outdoor cannabis growers often need five times as many employees this time of year as they do the rest. The vast majority of the available positions are trimmers, and the gigs last until around mid-November at the latest — but "some regular positions are added post-harvest," she notes.
The amount of cannabis produced by the outdoor grows traditionally affects wholesale cannabis prices, as the outdoor plants — used more for extraction and viewed as lower-quality than their indoor counterparts — flood the market with concentrate.
Smaller growing operations used to have their friends and neighbors apply for their state Marijuana Enforcement Division worker badges, just in case they needed a little extra help in the fall. But now there's much more money and output involved with legal cannabis, leaving some of Vangst's clients so eager for temporary staffers that the recruiter held a job fair in Fort Collins earlier this week.
Crop-tober extends past licensed marijuana grows, with Colorado hemp farmers — and plenty of other farmers, for that matter — that grow high-CBD hemp plants also looking for a little more help during harvest season. "Washington and Oregon both experience it, as well," Humiston explains. "Those seasonal components with outdoor grows are where you see it the most."
But the uptick in temporary workers isn't something that all legal cannabis markets experience, she adds, since growers in Nevada and Arizona, for example, focus on indoor cultivations because of the heat.
It's not too late to land some seasonal work or a temporary gig in the cannabis and hemp industries, with staffing agencies such as Vangst, Hemp Temps, Ms. Mary Staffing, THC Staffing and Viridian Staffing Agency all helping newcomers find entry-level work in legal pot.