There are a number of factors, both biological and economic, that go into producing cannabis that consumers want. Quality is key, but achieving the pinnacle of bud does not necessarily mean a producer is going to be profitable.
Balancing precision environmental controls with operating costs is a never-ending process that will determine whether an operation is a success or failure. For example, some indoor operations produce top-notch flower, but fail to turn a profit due to exorbitant energy costs. And some outdoor farms produce cannabis with minimal energy costs, but have been unable to move it simply because the quality isn’t there.
Indoor and outdoor growing are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Cannabis thrives under precision environments where every biological and environmental factor can be accounted for, but artificial lighting and energy-intensive HVAC systems take up a substantial percentage of an indoor grow’s operating costs. However, indoor growers are also generally able to fetch a higher price for their crops.
For companies seeking the balance of a cost-efficient operation and the ability to produce sought-after bud, greenhouses bring together the benefits of indoor and outdoor cultivation and, when used properly, allow operations to stay competitive in their marketplace.
Lighting in a greenhouse exemplifies the balance between nature and environmental controls via supplemental lighting. A greenhouse allows crops to rest under the sun’s natural light, while still providing the same environmental control of an indoor grow. Companies can choose a cladding, or coating, that lets the maximum amount of natural light into the structure, often eliminating the need for expensive artificial light for days on end.
Greenhouses can also integrate into the cultivation process the same automation systems as indoor grows, ensuring that fertigation, irrigation, lighting and other systems are used efficiently and properly and with minimal labor requirements.
The top greenhouse operations in the country integrate automated light deprivation systems from day one, allowing them to completely control the light cycle, enabling 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness at any point in the year — with literally no labor required to operate the curtains (with the right setup of timers or greenhouse controllers). This means that greenhouses grow crops year-round, while still taking advantage of the sun when it’s available.
The energy saved by using natural resources in a greenhouse is obvious, but greenhouse-grown cannabis does tend to sell for slightly less than indoor bud. However, with the savings in energy consumption, greenhouse growing really highlights the importance of balancing technology with nature’s resources to create a thriving cannabis grow in just about any region.