The cannabis market is rapidly expanding, but compression is always inevitable. Knowing this, cannabis grow facilities must offer consistent, top-shelf yields to stand out. These cultivation sites must run at peak efficiency, especially given the market’s razor-thin margins.
There are several successful cannabis grow facilities, but what’s their secret to success? We found eight things top-performing cannabis grow facilities have that others may want to get in the mix.
A Strong Team
Above all else, a business is only as strong as the team running the show. Everyone at the facility must be on the same page, from the C-suite to the trimmers.
When building a team, different perspectives and skills are essential. However, it’s imperative to ensure that visions are aligned and entry-level employees are respected and valued as leadership.
Agriculture has come a long way, and cannabis is no different. Specialized cannabis growing software and automation solutions can increase output, cut labor costs, and reduce the amount of resources used.
“Our systems allow growers to monitor and control water, fertigation, lighting, and other critical processes, which makes facilities more efficient,” explained Daryl Denison, chief operating officer of automation tech firm AI Grow. “This technology pays for itself in no time since there is less waste in the plant life cycle and bigger yields come harvest.”
The Right Amount of Lights
In the cannabis growing underground, adding another light to a tent typically equated to bigger profits. However, overdoing it in large-scale facilities may actually be a detriment—and a waste of money.
“Most operators are so focused on cramming as many lights as possible into a facility that they don’t think about how all of the other elements and equipment have a more drastic impact on the outputs of the facility,” noted Jesse Larson, director of design and build at cannabis consulting giant Higher Yields Consulting. “We assess a lot of cultivation facilities, and a majority of them are using more light than what is necessary.”
The ideal number of lights in a facility can vary drastically, so it’s crucial to always speak with the experts during the planning phase.
Precise Environmental Conditions
Cannabis may grow like a weed, but it takes just the right circumstances to be top shelf. Temperature, humidity, airflow, carbon dioxide levels, and water pH are just a few things that need to be perfect for plants to reach their full potential.
Environmental sensors and controls are critical for cannabis grow facilities. Basic models display pertinent information, but advanced systems offer remote access and manipulation. If an HVAC system malfunctions or a valve begins to leak, grow staff can be alerted on mobile devices and spring into action before the entire crop is at risk.
Data Collection Tools
Monitoring a grow in real-time is crucial in mitigating risk, but capturing data throughout the plant life cycle can also be incredibly useful to your strategy. This information reveals a treasure trove of intel on your crops, including what strains are doing best and where improvements may be needed.
“Data collection allows growers to fine-tune their processes and continually hit maximum output,” Denison noted.
Automation systems often include data collection tools that can be accessed at any time. From resource trends to individual plant performance, this data is crucial to long-term planning.
It goes without saying, but cannabis is often only as good as its genetics. Whether growing from seed or clone, the top-performing cannabis cultivation facilities typically tout their genetics on their path to success.
For new operators, sourcing good genetics can be a challenge. With so many breeders out there, it can be hard to know who to trust. Word of mouth is often a good place to start. Reputation is key in cannabis—especially when it comes to source material.
Having the right team, equipment, and seeds is one thing, but they’re nothing without strong standard operating procedures (SOPs). These production guides highlight exactly what needs to be done day in and day out to ensure crops are healthy and yields are bountiful.
SOPs should be incredibly detailed and consistent throughout facilities. If expanding to new markets, SOPs should go along, too. During the initial cultivation facility design, SOPs should be dialed in. This will allow all staff to be on the same page and know precisely what is expected.
A Long-Term Plan
With the cannabis landscape seemingly changing daily, it can be difficult to look ahead. However, cultivators must develop a long-term strategy to help guide growth. This is especially crucial for cannabis grow facilities seeking to scale up.
“A proper phased retooling plan will include a roadmap for the development of the facility broken out into phases based on the client’s budgets and expectations,” Larson explained. “It’s important operators have a full understanding of the time requirements, resources that will be needed, and how to calculate ROI to help them trigger the next phase of development.”
Cannabis grow facilities are the backbone of the industry, but it takes hard work and planning for them to run smoothly. By adding these ingredients to the mix, cultivators can ensure their product is consistently top-shelf.