If the scale of this next facility doesn’t blow your mind… then nothing will.
Welcome to the California field of dreams for medical marijuana growing. Expert Justin Cooper guides you through this seven-acre natural sunlight greenhouse production facility that he believes will dictate the future of medicinal cannabis production for all of the U.S.
What makes natural sunlight greenhouses superior to other forms of cannabis production? First and foremost, it’s the utilization of natural sunlight that slashes energy costs, creating a far more sustainable product.
Secondly, this source of light remains the best quality and spectrum of light for the cannabis plant. The plant has been growing under the sun for thousands of years—not to mention, the temperate climate in many areas of California that allow for cannabis production all year round.
Just a reminder that the big reason clandestine operations began using HID lighting was to stay undetected in homes and buildings.
Before you start growing in a greenhouse, however, you’re going to need some control over the brilliant sun, especially when flipping your plants from vegetative growth (18 hours of light) to the flowering stage, which only requires 12 hours of light.
To solve this problem, this facility has massive light deprivation tarps to manipulate the photoperiod of the cannabis plants. Huge canopies are covered by massive black tarps that induce “night” or “lights off.” This allows optimal control over the light needed to grow at different times of the year, guaranteeing consistent all-year-round cannabis production.
In veg rooms, this facility uses small fluorescents on top of natural light that keep plants in veg for an 18-hour light cycle, which is crucial during the winter with the shorter daylight hours.
As Justin enters a room walking towards thousands of thriving cuttings he says: “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in a humidity dome? Well this is one big one.”
As he goes on, he explains the importance of ensuring your plants are kept at around 90 percent humidity to reduce the transpiration of water through the leaves. Most home growers can buy tiny humidity domes for cloning trays to keep their cuttings alive and well; but when growing on this scale, they had to use commercial methods.
When in flower, Andrew from Geopot takes over to explain how this grow operation benefits from fabric pots in flower, and why they’re better than traditional pots for root aeration.
Flowering plants are spaced out to maximize light coverage, which reduces the amount of “popcorn” buds on plants. The plants are quadruple trellised for optimal support and planted in 65 gallon Squat Geopots, with 2-3 plants per pot in King’s Mix medium from Royal Gold, a high-quality and trusted quality-controlled potting mix. Nutrient solution is fed into the plants using a dripping irrigation system through four separate drips.
“A large number of these commercial gardens are switching to economical solutions like Duel Fuel by Green Planet Nutrients,” explained Justin.
When you are growing on a scale like this, you need something like a simple 2-part that doesn’t need a ton of additives. They just need a trusted and tested formula backed by science.
When it comes time for harvest, boxes and boxes of cannabis are hung to dry and trimmed. All the cannabis grown at this facility is put through CO2 extraction to produce very clean medicine for medical users.
David Robinson, the author of The Grower’s Handbook, ends with some insight on the positive environmental impact of greenhouses for large-scale cannabis production over indoor facilities:
“Greenhouses are the most efficient and environmentally friendly way to produce cannabis.” said David. “Indoors uses HID lighting, where the bulbs end up in landfills. Many don’t know, but HID bulbs contain mercury, so a fair amount of toxic waste is produced with indoor production of cannabis. Not only are we able to reclaim water through gutter systems, we’re also able to create super-consistent environments, creating optimal lights on/off temperatures and optimal humidity levels, while continuing to protect plants from outdoor problems, such as rain, heavy winds and hail, reducing the introduction of pests, fungi and harmful pollen into your environment.”
In this seventh episode of Growing Exposed, we explore why greenhouses could be the future of large-scale medicinal cannabis production and the benefits of this method on the environment.