The single source for Southern Humboldt Concentrates live resin oil. Photo by Kim Sallaway.
The single source for Southern Humboldt Concentrates live resin oil. Photo by Kim Sallaway.

California’s defining cannabis competition has in the past shied away from accepting oils made using butane and CO2 due to safety concerns. Now with the augment of better testing and the clear potential these oils have to be clean and potent, the Emerald Cup is going all in to support the best producers in the state.

The Emerald Cup has partnered with Southern Humboldt Concentrates to add Live Resin BHO oil to the new line of Emerald Cup branded cannabis products. Founder of the cup Tim Blake said he is excited to support Bruce Ayer’s craftsmanship because “there is no disputing the terps and the quality of what he’s got.” SC Labs test results for Southern Humboldt Concentrate’s oils indicated the PPM (parts per million) of BHO were almost nil, and Blake said the terpene totals were the highest of any oil the lab has tested.

“They’re the best at it,” Blake said of Southern Humboldt Concentrates. “Picking the plants at the right time. Most people take it early when they do live and they’re giving up weight. Bruce picks them very carefully, and it’s never more than 5 minutes to get to the freezers. They get the freshest material they can get and work their magic with it. They go to such lengths to get it clean and spent so much time developing that. I’ve never seen anything better than Bruce’s.”

With the amount of time and attention to detail that Ayer puts into caring for his plants and keeping the concentrate process clean, Blake said it is humbling to work with him.

The Craftsman Behind Southern Humboldt Concentrates

Partnering with The Emerald Cup is a leap for Ayer and Southern Humboldt Concentrates. He’s been involved in concentrate production for many years, and he said he uses a closed loop system “so you don’t blow yourself up.” He has won the Amsterdam Cup and placed 2nd in the High Times cup with his single-source oils, and his first-ever competition was the Emerald Cup where he placed 14th for his flower entry.

His oils and flowers are award winning, but so far his success has all been by word of mouth. Marketing and public relations are not his strong suits, and he hesitates to amp up production to meet hungry distributor demands because he doesn’t want the oil to lose what makes it special. This partnership with the Emerald Cup is an exciting opportunity, he said.

What is Live Resin oil?  Instead of using dry plant material, the live resin process uses fresh frozen plants to create a product with the terpene profile of the live plant rather than the dried flowers.

During this phone interview with Ayer, he said he was hanging out with one of the top glass blowers in the world. “Both of us are top of the class but we’re not concerned with production. We’re not interested in hitting every last possible customer. Truly, at the beginning of the day when we wake up, we go to make the best thing that we can make.”

He keeps to organic standards in his automated light deprivation greenhouse and said he spends “painstaking hours” to move his genetics forward and care for the crop. “I’ve spent half a day smelling the stalks of plants to find the best phenos in the lot.”

“My whole life is this,” Ayer said. “That’s where I’m at first. I’m a farmer. I don’t claim to be a concentrate artist. When people ask me how I do it, it’s my effort in the garden. I do the pheno hunting and clone cutting by myself.”

New! BHO and CO2 Categories at the Emerald Cup

The Emerald Cup is partnering with oil companies like Southern Humboldt Concentrates and Absolute Xtracts in order to feature producers who are doing it right and making clean medicine, Blake said. The cup event itself does not make much money, especially considering the work that goes into it — Blake’s team sees these partnerships as an opportunity to both capitalize on the brand and collaborate with the top producers who create stellar, clean results that are safe for patients.

This embrace of concentrates made using BHO and CO2 comes after 3 years of banning the oils from competing in the annual organic cup. One of many changes farmers will see in the 2016 Emerald Cup is BHO and CO2 now have their own competition categories, said Associate Producer of The Emerald Cup Taylor Blake. Only after reliable testing was developed for solvents did the Emerald Cup team feel comfortable allowing the top producers to compete. “We can consciously say that they are making products that should be recognized,” she said.

There will be separate contests for the two oil types and the standards will be established so no one will get in with something that wasn’t done with high grade solvents, Tim Blake said. “I’m not against BHO at all. I’m against all the kids blowing themselves up, giving us a bad name and making people sick.”

To keep the entries honest, there will be high standards set for every category for the 2016 competition. Every entry across the board will be tested for molds, pesticides, fungicides, potency, and terpene totals — and every entry’s test results will be published for the world to see. This will excite the scientists in the crowd, as this equates to a huge sample size from which to study. Even some of last year’s winners have been studied: The top 10 flower entries from 2015 Emerald Cup were put through a DNA sequencer and have been discussed in depth at Harvard Medical School, Tim Blake said.

Blake warns that people who want to pre-test their entries should make sure to use a lab that has equipment sensitive enough to detect these forbidden elements.

Ayer said that even though he can’t enter the competition due to this partnership, he is “beyond excited” about BHO and CO2 as categories in this year’s cup — he believes it will help create a more informed industry. “Tim’s a good vector for that. As long as there’s a good framework and he protects his reputation and name, I think it will be a great thing. We’ll pick up more oil smokers. That’s good for business and it’s good for patients because oil is the most flavorful, clean way to consume cannabis.”

The new rules for the 2016 emerald Cup will be posted on April 20, 2016, at

Thank you to the Emerald Cup for being a Gold sponsor of the Ganjier Spring Kickoff on Feb. 20, 2016 in Humboldt!

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