It’s no secret that the legal marijuana industry is booming. According to cannabis industry analysts, ArcView Group, national legal sales of cannabis grew to $5.4 billion in 2015, up from $4.6 billion in 2014. But despite its legality and massive industry growth, one major obstacle still stands in the way of many large-scale growers—the indoor cultivation systems they use require massive amounts of energy to run, costing them thousands in electrical bills each month.
In fact, a recent study estimated that one percent of the nation’s total consumed energy is contributed to indoor marijuana grows. One-percent doesn’t seem like a lot, but this is equivalent to the total energy consumed in 1.7 million American homes.
As the industry has continued to expand and more states are legalizing both medical and recreational use, cultivators have been looking for more affordable, more efficient alternatives to traditional indoor growing. Technology companies have recognized this industry need and are beginning to capitalize through the development and production of highly efficient, automated greenhouses, known as light-deprivation greenhouses.
Although the modern greenhouse has existed for centuries, the traditional designs are inefficient for growing cannabis. A notoriously difficult crop to grow, cannabis plants need 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of complete darkness to produce buds, in addition to specific humidity levels during various phases of the growth process. All of this is very difficult to achieve in a traditional greenhouse, so several environmental tech companies are stepping up to the plate with the development of light-deprivation greenhouses built specifically for the cultivation of cannabis.
One of the very first companies to bring industrial-style automated greenhouses to the market was Forever Flowering out of Grass Valley, California. Forever Flowering was the very first company to produce a fully automated light deprivation greenhouse with zero lumens of light. But several other tech companies have followed suit and are entering the cannabis greenhouse market with many manufacturers claiming that their structures can save anywhere from 25% to 50% on electricity costs compared to indoor grows.
With industry crackdowns in the 80’s and 90’s, cannabis cultivation was pushed indoors and because of this, indoor cultivation still dominates the industry. But as the industry continues to rapidly expand and cultivators electricity bills sky-rocket, the cost-cutting benefits of greenhouse cultivation are likely to be recognized and move greenhouse cultivation to the forefront of the industry.
And the benefits of these greenhouses isn’t just in cutting down on energy costs and reducing the industries’ carbon footprint. Light-deprivation greenhouses enable four to six harvests per year, just like indoor grows, but it is a stark contrast to the single harvest you would get in a traditional greenhouse. And increased production paired with reduced costs for growers ultimately means cost-reduction for consumers.
A properly designed cannabis greenhouse will also prevent molds, pests, and diseases from ravaging plants. “I’d say the biggest problem we face today is mold,” says Eric Brandstad, manager of Forever Flowering Greenhouses. “Most greenhouses do really well in the winter and become hostile in the summer. Luckily FFG has pioneered the technique in “summer mode” light deprivation greenhouses.”
Despite indoor cultivation’s past domination of the cannabis industry, modern technological greenhouses seem to be advancing quickly to the industry forefront. With advancements such as blackout curtains, photoperiod extension, CO2 enhancement, and high capacity ventilation, high-tech greenhouses are achieving multiple quality controlled crop cycles per year, cutting costs to growers and consumers, and reducing the industries carbon footprint.
With all of its benefits, it seems the future of cannabis cultivation will be sun grown. If you are interested in learning more about greenhouse growing technology for your cannabis business, call or email one of the experts at Canna Group, Inc. today!