Colorado Startup Yofumo Has a Cure for Contaminated Weed

Yofumo's curing cabinets keep the harvest fungus-free and terpene rich.

Growing weed in the modern cannabis climate is serious business—equal parts art and science. Pot farmers are employing vertical, aeroponic, hydroponic, and traditional soil-based methods to yield flower more potent than ever before. Some cultivators even raise weed plants that, when processed, could produce targeted, predicted effects.

The marijuana-normalization movement has increased demand for cannabis and its ancillary products in legal states, and has pressured the booming weed industry's farming sector to develop technology on par with the most advanced methods of Big Business agriculture. 

Denver, Colorado-based cultivation startup Yofumo claims that its line of weed-storage-and-processing devices "sharpens the entire harvest-to-consumption model in ways never before possible."

'Curing is an important step cannabis flowers take in between harvest and consumption. Right now, most people are curing in jars or other basic instruments.'

The company markets directly to dispensaries and growers, offering a device aesthetically comparable to an Easy-Bake Oven, but much more powerful, and designed to cure, store, and index cannabis crops. 

KINDLAND reached out for a deeper insight into the next wave of weed-growing technology.

KINDLAND: For the readers who may be unfamiliar with cultivation terminology, or growing weed in general, what does it means to "cure" cannabis flower?

Yofumo: Curing is an important step cannabis flowers take in between harvest and consumption. Once cannabis is harvested, it gets dried; then a good grower will cure the flower. Curing is a brief aging process that allows for two main things: First, it lets the plant's natural flavors fully form and express themselves, to create a more flavorful flower. And second, [the process] creates a far smoother experience when consumed than simply dried cannabis. Right now, most people are curing in jars or other basic instruments.

KINDLAND: How do Yofumo's product offerings factor into this process?

Yofumo: Our mission is to modernize cannabis procedures throughout the entire harvest to consumption system; so each of our storage units is optimized for curing. It starts with Yofumo's ability to rid cannabis of molds, fungus, and bacteria—organisms that can destroy or compromise the safety of a crop during the post-harvest process, especially while it's curing.

We harnessed the power of ozone, which had been used in wet form to sanitize water and other foods for over a century. We figured out how to wield it as a gas to decontaminate any consumable that can't be wet treated, from cannabis to tea. It took over a year of 20 double-blind, third-party-confirmed tests to get the formula that would not harm any trichrome content or terpenes in cannabis. At the same time, we were working on putting the technology in contained micro-environments that could control moisture.

KINDLAND: Why is controlling moisture levels so important? 

Yofumo: Humidity levels and microbial control are the two biggest risk factors in the curing process that can destroy a valuable amount of cannabis. Once we could determine ambient humidity within the unit, we could safely store, cure, and manage cannabis for longer than ever before possible.

'People with deficient immune systems, like oncology patients or HIV, need to ensure they don't consume any products contaminated with mold or fungus.'

We then went a step further and added a mahogany interior. Mahogany is extremely amenable to being taken over by terpene profiles, creating an ideal environment to bring out the flower's truest and strongest terpene flavor expressions. Mahogany works so well with terpenes, it can accelerate cure times by about 300 percent and produces a more expressive profile. Our system allows for accurate measuring and monitoring to assure repeatability in product, something that's difficult to achieve in a jar.

KINDLAND: Why would someone want to keep their marijuana plants free of yeast? What can happen to the plant if they opted to simply hang their buds in a dark closet?

Yofumo: You simply cannot control contamination in a closet or worse, a bathroom or basement. And any human contact prior to consumption is clearly unsanitary. The food industry learned this a long time ago. It’s just a matter of time before cannabis as an industry catches up. We are happy to be a driving force in that regard. People with deficient immune systems like oncology patients or HIV, to name just a few, need to ensure they don't consume any products contaminated with mold or fungus. There has been one fatality and one near miss with two Leukemia patients in California recently.

KINDLAND: Would any Yofumo products accommodate other plants or herbs, aside from cannabis?

Yofumo: Absolutely. All of our patents and much of our R&D is for general biomass application and treatment. For each variety, say cannabis or teas, we fine-tune the equipment so the protocols are matched to what is being treated. 

KINDLAND: How do the YF Pro and Pro+ empower growers and dispensaries?

Yofumo: Yofumo will allow grows and dispensaries with average product to greatly improve quality. We've already seen one of our partners alter their business plan when he saw the vast improvement in quality of his strains cured using our methods, equipment, and systems. Yofumo's Pro and Pro+ allow each dispensary to further differentiate themselves from the competition with tangible and significant improvement of their standard product, and empower them to develop unique customized products at will.

Businesses can have a regular-cured Sour Diesel and then a Yofumo-cured Sour Diesel that's even more top shelf. It opens the door for true artistry in the cure space to start to expand at scale. And of course, grows and dispensaries no longer have to worry about failing inspections and can ensure that their patients are purchasing the safest medicine possible. Their consumers will get better product.

KINDLAND: Where do you see the legal marijuana-tech space heading in the coming years, as more states legalize cannabis?

Yofumo: There will be a focus on how technology can improve quality control, product development, and general best practices.

KINDLAND: Can you offer any insight into, or a description of, the weed-startup scene in Denver; and Colorado cannabis culture at large?

Yofumo: [The state] is drawing some of the most motivated and talented individuals from across the country and overseas. And not just the usual crowd. You have established tech entrepreneurs, investment bankers, manufacturers, tech talent of every stripe. With Google's move to Boulder, I expect to see even more seeding from traditional industries to cannabis tech and to ag-tech in general, which is incubating some of the most interesting tech startups in the space.

KINDLAND: What is a major (political/social/technical) issue faced by the cannabis industry? 

Yofumo: Our genesis as a company is rooted in our technology’s ability to manage all decontamination and post-harvest product handling; so I'm glad we're finally talking about how we can modernize standards in the post-harvest system to ensure no cannabis contaminated with molds, fungus, and other bad bacteria reaches any vulnerable consumers.