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SUMMER LOVING - TESTING IMPORTANCEPhoto: Sonika AgarwalGianenzo SpagnuoloSpring has sprung in South Africa, marking the start of another outdoor season. Home growers can look forward to another beautiful season to process for their private medicine; however, the industry looks to start making some serious progress. South Africa is well known for its farming and passion for the international export of products that are cultivated across the wide climatic zones of the country. Cannabis is planned to join the long list; however, it is important to plan your farming operation carefully.
As there are currently no regulations around testing, Ecogreen Analytics is geared to align South African testing standards to internationally accepted practices.
Testing is a critical key that unlocks market share across the sector both locally and internationally. All producers, licensed growers and permit holders must ensure the safety of their end product for all consumers.
To ensure that the standard of testing in South Africa is set at inception to adhere to international laboratories, Ecogreen Analytics follows the best practices of the international licensed and accredited laboratories in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Lesotho. With Cannabis plants acting as a sponge for their environment, testing starts before any seeds are planted. Whether a grower uses pesticides or not, there may be possible pesticides in the environment that can be absorbed by the plant yielding your harvest unfavourable for sale at the end. Therefore, it’s critical to have both your water and soil tested for heavy metals and pesticides as well as microbes in the water to ensure if any preparation is needed to amend any issues done prior to planting.
Once the soil and water are best suited to the plant, testing during the growing process continues, to ensure that the plants are not exposed to unfavourable elements in the environment such as heavy metals or pesticides. Mildew can also be a problem during the growing period so full panel testing is required. Pre-harvest testing starts around the fifth week of flowering. It is recommended that a full panel test is done for every 10kg yield. This will be cannabinoid profile and potency, heavy metals, pesticides, terpene profiles and microbials. Samples should be submitted weekly from this stage till harvest. This ensures that Hemp does not exceed the legal limits of THC and the medical-grade Cannabis is producing the intended results and profiles.
During the drying process, the Cannabinoid potency can change, moisture in the plant material can also cause moulds to form on the bud, testing during the drying period for potency and profile as well as terpenes and microbials is therefore critical. For extractions, the testing needs to start with the biomass, then each stage of the process would need to be tested for potency, profile, terpenes and residual solvents. It is critical to ensure, extract, formulation and production consistency testing takes place. Finally, a random sampling needs to take place prior to dispatch to ensure there has been no contamination in the packaging process.
Ultimately the ability to provide full-scope analysis data on the plants and products ensures the safety of the end-user but also gives greater access to the national and international markets.
It is critical to ensure that your analytics partner adheres to international testing standards ISO17025 and is licensed by SAHPRA to ensure the analytical reports adhere to internationally accepted standards. Methods are validated and that the testing is repeatable. Testing needs to be a priority throughout the entire supply chain process with a particular focus on the safety of the end-user. The value chain of the products is only as good as the quality of your results. Photo: Elevate