Kratom Harvest Maturity
There has never been a more exciting time to grow kratom in America, as the old myths designed to discourage growing here have been debunked.
For years a persistent myth precluded American growers from exploring new seed sown lines of kratom genetics ---- the myth of harvest maturity. According to this myth, only very old trees were able to produce beneficial alkaloids. This has been discredited beyond question. According to modern Indonesian farming for export practices, kratom's initial harvest takes place by one year of age. In America, under greenhouse conditions in non-tropical regions, kratom saplings can also reach the threshold of harvest maturity by one year of age with market-worthy alkaloid levels.
So why did the "old kratom tree" myth persist so long? And what does it mean for the future of American kratom now that it has been debunked?
Let's break it down!
A few reasons could explain the persistence of the old tree myth:
1. Before the West discovered kratom, kratom was always coming off old trees. There was no demand to plant new ones, so if you wanted kratom you'd take it off your established tree or go into the forest and take it from the big trees there. It is in direct response to the western demand for kratom that farmers began making kratom gardens, and here young trees undergo their first harvest by a year of age. Modern farming for export practices clearly and transparently indicate kratom is harvest mature by one year of age.
2. The more you harvest from a tree, the more alkaloids it will produce to protect itself. This is one reason why old trees can be great. Although old trees can produce high alkaloids, it's a not a rule, nor is it a factor of age, but of how much the tree has been assaulted over time by everything from wind, to bugs, to herbivores. Alkaloids are produced as a protective mechanism and in response to environmental conditions, as well as just a simple part of the species' biochemistry. That means an old tree has had longer to undergo these stressors and more time to retaliate by secreting alkaloids.
But as anyone who's eaten from a dud old tree knows, old age alone does not a potent tree make. Genetics plays a role. There is significant anecdotal evidence to suggest the potency of the mother tree from which seeds are harvested plays an integral role in the alkaloid development of offspring trees. There is likely a direct genetic link. A potent and productive tree should yield seeds that favor carrying on these traits. This is why we search for very particular trees from which to collect genetic material to develop our genetic lines. Not all trees or all seeds are created equal. Just like athletes or animals or pretty much anything out there, there's the best, and there's the rest.
3. There also may be a little something lost in translation. According to an Indonesian farmer:
"Our ancestors say old leaves are better than leaf tops. By this method, kratom in the forest remains sustainable and avoids excessive exploration. We do not want this plant to become extinct because of exploration, and we will be cursed by the ancestors if this plant goes extinct."
In this context, when the Indonesians use the phrase "old leaves" they don't mean leaves from old trees at all... they mean take the leaves that have already grown out on the tree, but leave the newest developing ones, so the tree isn't totally raped and thus continues to grow.
When we asked the farmer how old trees have to be to have good alkaloid profiles, and if he felt older forest trees were more potent than young garden trees, he said:
"Farmers harvest at least one year of age. I don't think there is a problem with the levels of alkaloids. Those who harvest in the forest are those who do not have kratom gardens or who just want to search in large numbers."
In light of this, it should come as no surprise that Indonesia's best commercial kratom gardens are seeded using genetic material taken from old and productive trees in the forests and jungles. These source trees are highly prized and some are maintained as trade secrets. This is because it is a commonly held belief that a genetic link exists, and farmers look for the very best genetics to seed their crops. The simple flow of logic indicates that plants with the best genetics grown from the seed of the most potent and productive mothers will yield the best commercial product and highest profit.
4. Another reason why the "only old trees are good" myth may have persisted so long is, simply, competition. Before kratom became such a competitive industry in Indonesia, the longest standing farmers handled all the supply in answer to all the demand. As demand skyrocketed and people watched their neighbors getting rich from the kratom industry, more and more people wanted a piece of the action. If you are one of the original kratom farmers, how do you maintain your share of the market with so many new people joining in? Well you give customers the impression that your older trees are superior to the younger trees of the new competition. You tell your American customers only old trees --- like yours --- produce the high quality alkaloids.
This myth may have spread out of fear by established farmers that they would lose their lions share of the market if it were discovered that young trees can make equally viable medicine. Although the truth has been known in Indonesia all along, the harvest maturity myth persisted in American plant circles as enthusiasts continued to clone clones of clones to propagate cultivars that were said to be "old enough" to be harvest mature. We now know this is based on erroneous suppositions --- especially as a new generation of engaged consumer is taking interest and testing the common clone lines, learning some cuttings barely register key alkaloids. (This will be expounded upon in detail in an upcoming article, so stay tuned for that. If you have data to contribute to the research involved in this topic, please contact us.)
Genetic diversity matters
As we carve the future of American kratom into the new frontier of possibility, it's important to honor Mother Nature and Her divine gift of genetic diversity. Seeds hold within them the power of infinite potentiality. The more genetics we work with and the more we strive to develop new lines, the closer we come to greatness. Instead of continuing to propagate only the common clone lines that dominated America during the reign of the Harvest Maturity myth, we can now open our gardens to new lines of American kratom developed from seed.
The considerable strides made in the cannabis genetics industry over the past 50 years provide an inspirational blueprint for what is possible when enough minds work together to make a difference.
Many factors can affect alkaloids profiles
There are many factors and growing techniques that can affect alkaloid levels. You will be reading about these in our upcoming chapter on How to Boost Alkaloids in Live Kratom Trees.
And if you read this far, congratulations. You have found the "easter egg" in the harvest maturity blog. You have earned an entry into our current plant giveaway contest. Contact us to let us know either through our facebook page or our website.
To purchase genetically diverse seed-sown kratom specimens, visit magickpowerspotions.com