By Natalie Kra
Like many in the industry, Matt Haddad’s cannabis journey started at home. His early days were spent growing and selling cannabis in forest preserves in & around Chicagoland. When Colorado legalized recreational THC consumption at the turn of 2014, Matt’s journey took him Westword. With him, he brought the brand and brains behind the prominent seed company – The Cali Connection. At the time, The Cali Connection was a pioneer in creating feminized seeds and creating new genetics for the medical THC market.
During this time, the hemp industry was “years behind THC” despite the many similarities in breeding, growing, and processing. Seeing an opportunity to advance the hemp industry using the very same technologies he’d applied in cannabis, Matt set off to start a new venture in hemp. When asked about the decision to solely focus on hemp and pivot away from THC entirely, Haddad pointed to the ample hemp acreage availability and the lesser degree of regulation that has created a more appealing environment in which to operate. Coupled with rising demand for CBD products – the transition to hemp was a no brainer.
With a keen foresight for the future of the industry, Haddad partnered with a friend and colleague who owned an extraction and post-refinement company for hemp to start pushing the industry forward. Together, they focused on extraction-efficient cultivars that had low lipid content and proved successful in the Colorado environment. With early success and a growing market, Trilogene Seeds was born.
Establishing a Global Presence
Trilogene Seeds is a brand of the future; the company sits at the nexus of technology and agriculture, combining the power of new age genomic tools with traditional breeding processes to create premium hemp seeds. Over the last few years, the company has released over 60 new genetics to market in roughly 48 U.S. states and have presence in 26 countries across the globe – making them a prominent force in the global hemp market. “We’re very proud to be the most, to our knowledge, internationally exposed genetics company,” says Haddad.
Working with universities, researchers, and organizations at the forefront of hemp, Trilogene has continued to play a role in innovation in the hemp space. While Trilogene is focused solely on hemp varietals, the company brings feminized seeds, pheno-hunting, and other cutting age THC methodologies to the industry.
Trilogene’s methodology has been particularly successful at addressing one of the biggest barriers to crop growing; the variability in climate and photoperiods across different regions in the world. Some crops (or strains) adapt well to certain climates and poor in others. The success of a crop is dependent on the photoperiod and microclimate in which it is grown, with factors like sunlight, precipitation, humidity, and soil type all playing a role in the growth cycle. Trilogene works with farmers across the globe to identify strains that adapt well to specific climates and photoperiods in order to increase the efficiency of a farmer’s growing operation.
The pinnacle of why a genetics company like Trilogene is valuable is the efficiency they bring to the hemp supply chain. The company’s breeding methodology creates seeds with the very characteristics that other companies acquire through chemical conversions – minimizing the costs, labor, and time it takes to achieve the same end results. By targeting specific cannabinoids, compounds, and characteristics at the very first stage of a hemp plant’s life cycle, Trilogene drives unprecedented efficiencies for the growers who utilize their seeds.
Those who grow hemp using Trilogene’s genetics even have the opportunity to participate in a “buy back” program where Trilogene connects growers with end markets for their products. “We’re at the start of the supply chain in many ways, which is a great way to verify transparency and make sure, from a seed level, things are done the right way,” explains Haddad. Because of this, Trilogene has been able to help several growers completely contract out their crop yield, acting as a trusted middleman between growers and buyers. “We’re trying to create a sustainable ecosystem for ourselves, our buyers, and our customers to work harmoniously together,” says Haddad.
In addition to the buy back program, Trilogene offers comprehensive consulting services to growers, supporting them with the design and implementation of their grow. By focusing on unprecedented customer support, transparency, and authenticity, Trilogene differentiates themselves in an oversaturated market and addresses the distrust that many low quality seed providers have caused within the industry. “We want to be known as one of the best cannabis genetics companies in the world that is leveraging technology and true qualitative cannabis expertise to bring superior products to market.”
Positioning for the Future
Trilogene’s innovation and strong focus on smokable and extraction efficient hemp strains has gained them recognition in the industry, claiming 7 prominent industry awards over the years. Trilogene has also realized the value in breeding seeds suitable for other applications such as industrial grade hemp and dual cropping. Trilogene also breeds kenaf, also known as Hibiscus cannabinus, a plant with similar properties to industrial hemp to meet the growing market for such material.
When asked about his vision for Trilogene’s future, Haddad hints at some revolutionary products and processes that he plans to bring to market, such as a “THC free” genetic that will contain around 20% CBD. By “harnessing the power of nature,” Trilogene plans to continue creating high quality seeds for farmers to ensure multiple streams of monetization while also driving down the overall costs of CBD production and purchase through increased efficiency. “I think everyone should have access to things like CBD. It should not be overinflated,” asserts Haddad.
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Natalie Kra is a 3rd year graduate student at the University of Colorado, pursuing both an MBA and a Masters of the Environment. Natalie is focusing her studies around sustainable food systems and hopes to leverage her education and passions to drive impact in the CPG industry.