One of the many benefits of cannabis legalization is the continued development of cutting-edge technology to maximize crop yield. The people behind Las Vegas-based lighting company Fohse are true innovators in the niche space of commercial cannabis LED grow lights. The company’s flagship model, the A3i, is currently the most powerful and efficient LED grow light on the market, thanks to patented canopy penetration technology.
NorCal co-founder and CEO Jiger Patel is an expert in indoor cannabis cultivation. Here, Patel talks to Cannabis Now about how Fohse’s A3i lights are an integral part of NorCal’s expansion plan.
NorCal’s indoor cultivation and production facilities are designed for precise control of every environmental factor impacting premium indoor-grown cannabis. “With indoor grows, what you’re trying to maintain is consistency and quality,” Patel said. “Having the most efficient setups—wherever you are—is how you win that game.”
The company had been using HPS lamps from multiple vendors since they launched. As Patel puts it, “HPS was always assumed to be the best commercial grow lights out there.”
“HPS lights max out between 900 and 1100 PPFD (Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density), depending on the density of your light grid. With Fohse lights, depending on the plant and time of that plant’s life cycle, we can comfortably run at 1500 PPFD,” he said.
NorCal’s growth can be attributed to their continual drive for innovation. When the cultivation team began searching for the next progressive step that would allow them to increase yields, they found Fohse.
“People had always looked at indoor LED lights as being the future, but we weren’t seeing a light that could produce as much intensity as we wanted out of LEDs,” Patel said. “But when I first started hearing about these powerful Fohse A3i LED lights, I didn’t believe it until I saw it. Science is science—and it makes sense.”
Growing a Legacy
The Fohse A3i’s swiveling light bars cross-illuminate neighboring grow plots, allowing growers to achieve maximum canopy penetration. For the last year, NorCal has been running 40 of them in a test room to dial in their understanding of LED grow lights and the different inputs that go into growing flower under the A3i. They found that the A3i lights produce 60% more light per BTU than traditional HPS systems.
The reason for this extra layer of research is the company’s planned move into the next level of production—a brand-new facility.
“When we decided to really double down on cultivation, we wanted to build something that wasn’t going to be a dinosaur after the first year,” Patel said. “I believe we can become even more efficient by putting Fohse lights into the entire facility. [They] create a better grow environment by replicating sunlight without giving off as much heat as HPS lights. That initial input of light allows us to then play with everything else to create maximum yield and efficiency of the plants. If you have the right lighting, you can then adjust your watering, nutrients and environment to let the plant thrive.”
Patel says they have pulled “somewhere between six and seven pounds per light” and have seen the same results with multiple cultivars—that’s a 30 to 40% yield increase.
There are also environmental benefits to using Fohse lights. As the A3i produces 60% more light per BTU than an HPS system, it significantly reduces the strain on cooling systems.
“A3i lights run less hot, so we’re able to negate the use of air conditioning. This allows us to have a greater impact in different parts of our business, in terms of efficiency and environmentally,” Patel explained. “We’re even thinking about retrofitting one of our entire buildings with Fohse. It’s basically plug-and-play, so they’re an easier light to retrofit than most.”
The Future Looks Bright
Patel believes that because California’s recreational industry is nascent, companies have been able to compete in the market without efficient grow ops.
“While cannabis production has been around for a long time, we’ve never had all the access to the technology and the data that we do now, and that’s what’s driving efficiency on everybody’s end,” Patel said. “It’s an exciting time to be participating in this business because there’s so much innovation.”
As indoor-grown cannabis becomes more of a commodity, pricing will become more competitive, and the difference between efficient growers and those using older technology will start to become clear.
“While we don’t welcome what’s happening in California, we do find ourselves in a position where we’re able to say we’re as efficient as anybody—if not more than anybody—and it really does give us a competitive advantage,” Patel said. “Fohse allows us the ability to become more and more efficient every day. They represent the cutting edge of lighting, and we see them being innovative for years to come.”