As cultivators and owners know, building out a commercial sized facility takes a lot of time, patience and money but can be extremely lucrative in the long run. Large-scale commercial facilities that are up and running are generating huge profits, mostly in cash. But this type of revenue takes time. To get to a place where a facility can sustain itself financially, owners first must go through the long and expensive process of licensing, permitting, obtaining land and/or buildings and, of course, choosing lighting and environmental control.
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Biosecurity is quickly becoming one of the most important topics in the cannabis industry. Testing standards are getting stricter and rates of tainted crops are sky rocketing, causing supply shortages and significant financial blows to cultivators all over the continent. Crops with mold or fungus can be deadly to consumers—especially those with lower immune systems, like many medical users. The alternative for many cultivators is to use chemicals like pesticides and fungicides to combat mold but unfortunately, these still pose a threat to consumers, placing cultivators in a catch-22 situation. Should you risk mold and fungus by avoiding chemicals? Or should you introduce potentially harmful chemicals to your plants to ensure against mold and fungus? Neither is a good option. Not only do these options put consumers at risk but, with increased regulation, they also put cultivators at risk of losing significant profits from having to dispose of sub-par harvests.
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Right now, cannabis in the United States is a hotly debated topic. Many people are anti-prohibition citing medicinal uses, economic growth, job-creation and removing its incentive from underworld criminals as reasons for creating a legitimate, regulated cannabis industry. Others see negative impacts of legalization, believing that cannabis is harmful and prohibition only keeps citizens safe. But more and more, the consensus is moving toward the former with a new poll suggesting 93% of voters support medical marijuana and 59% support full legalization. Elections in November highlighted this trend as four states adopted medical and another four voted in favor of adult-use programs. Now a record 60% of the United States’ population live in a state that has legalized in some form.
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Designing an indoor garden can be complicated. Cannabis is a new industry and though growers can pull best practices from similar industries, the fact remains that setting up a commercial cultivation facility is complicated and hard to navigate for new entrants. From navigating regulatory requirements to finding an appropriately zoned facility to choosing the right equipment, nothing about this process is simple. As soon as one task is completed, another task needs attention.
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Lately, it seems every other article we read is about growers having to dispose of large percentages of their crops due to testing failures. The recent tightening of regulations on pesticides and fungicides in Oregon has had a serious effect on cultivators as they try to figure out new ways to grow healthy plants without depending on chemicals. But this isn’t just an Oregon problem. More states are joining the cannabis market and, with that, comes stricter testing regulations. In fact, a new study by Steep Hill Labs shows that if California were to adopt similar testing standards to those used by Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP), nearly 83% of crops would fail. That is no small issue.
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What causes cannabis plants to flower? Any successful cannabis cultivator must know the answer to this question in order to generate revenue from a crop. Alternatively, the reverse knowledge, how to prevent cannabis plants from flowering, must be used to keep a Mother plant in a perpetual veg state.
The biosecurity of a cultivation facility is just as important as the physical security of the facility. The physical security includes measures such as locks, cameras, fences, lighting and more and is often, at least in part, required by law. Biosecurity includes measures such as air sanitation, dehumidification, cleaning procedures and more and is often not directly required, though can become an indirect requirement due to product testing and purity requirements.
Many growers advocate the use of an 18/6 light schedule (18 hours on, 6 hours off) while plants are in Veg. However, this may not be the most beneficial light schedule. Switching to a series of 6/2 (6 hours on, 2 hours off) light patterns may increase plant growth while also potentially creating a more stable controlled environment.
Plants need four essential things to grow: light, water, carbon dioxide (from the air) and nutrients. Each of these things work together to promote vigorous growth and increase yield. The catalyst motivating everything is the amount of light a plant receives. Energy from light is captured by the plant and used to process the carbon, nutrients and water. When plants receive more light, they need more of the other three elements and when they receive less light, they need less of the other three elements as well.