CenturionPro’s elite harvesting solutions provide throughputs up to 3000lbs of wet cannabis per hour (600lbs per hour dry). This is jaw droppingly impressive, but what do throughput numbers mean and how do they convert to grow size?
A machine’s throughput capability represents its top processing speed. Machines with an insufficient throughput may hinder the harvesting process. If harvesting solutions provide surplus throughput, they may represent an unnecessary investment and increased upfront cost.
To streamline operations and boost profitability, growers need to select the right bucker and trimmer for their grow size. To simplify the process and to ensure you select the right harvesting solutions, we created the CenturionPro product selector.
The product selector determines which trimming and bucking machines best suit your needs, based on any one of the following:
- Number of indoor cannabis plants
- Square ft of indoor cannabis grow
- Acreage of outdoor cannabis farm
- Acreage of outdoor hemp farm
Cannabis and hemp yields depend on a wide range of genetic and environmental factors. For the CenturionPro product selector we used industry averages where available, which can be found below:
Indoor cannabis plant: 0.075lbs
Square ft of indoor cannabis grow: 0.087lbs
Acreage of outdoor cannabis farm: 575lbs
Acreage of outdoor hemp farm: 700lbs
*product selector calculations are based on an 80-hour operating time*
These averages are useful industry benchmarks, but actual yields can vary based on a number of factors. To more accurately forecast required throughput, consider these elements when using the product selector:
According to industry research, the average indoor grower yields 39.5g of dried cannabis flower per square foot. But some reported much higher returns, yielding 60g/sq. ft with productive strains in optimal conditions. Plants with indica characteristics usually produce heavier flowers, up to 60g per sq. ft, while those with pure sativa lineages produce less than 35g/sq .ft.
With this in mind, for a more realistic projection of yield and required throughput consider adjusting your input.
- 5000 indica dominant plants may equal 7000 average yielding plants
- 5000 sativa dominant plants may equal 3000 average yielding plants
- 30 indoor square ft of indica dominant plants may produce the average yield of 50 square feet
- 50 indoor square ft of sativa dominant plants may produce the average yield of 25 square feet
When genetics are accounted for, the role of the grower is to provide the perfect conditions to maximize yield. This is much easier in an indoor environment, where light exposure, nutrients and air composition can be closely controlled.
The average yield per plant is harder to pinpoint due to its dependence on genetics, environment and experience. Advances in cannabis cultivation are constantly pushing the average yield per plant, but a doctoral thesis in 2014 calculated it to be 0.125lbs.
If you feel your team has the genetics and experience to surpass this average, alter the input accordingly.
- 1000 plants with tested genetics and an experienced team may yield the average of 1500 plants.
- 500 plants grown with unstabilized genetics could produce the average yield of 300 plants.
- Plant nutrition
- Heating and ventilation
A high-performance indoor setup typically provides 40-50W of artificial light per square foot of canopy, with anything less reducing yield. To calculate the amount of artificial light provided per square foot, growers need to divide the total wattage of all the lights in the room combined, by the size of the room.
In a 15,000 sq. ft grow room, with 5 x 75,000W lights (375,000W total):
375,000W / 15,000 sq. ft = 25W per square foot.
In this example the amount of light available per square foot is nearly half that is considered optimal. As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising to achieve half a plant’s maximum yield.
If lighting has been insufficient, adjust the figure in the product selector for a more accurate reading.
- 1000 plants grown at 25W per square foot may equal 500 average yielding plants.
- 30,000 square feet indoor with 25W per square foot may yield the same as 15,000 average square feet
After light exposure, the quantity and quality of nutrients delivered to the plant is the second largest contributor to yield. Consequently, most commercial cannabis growers rely on hydroponics to ensure plants receive the required inputs to realize their potential.
If you have experienced under or over fertilization, leading to reduced growth, again adjust the figures in the product selector for more accurate results.
- 1000 plants that experienced heavy nutrient burn may equal 500 average yielding plants
- 30,000 square feet of indoor space with slight nutrient burn may yield the same as 25,000 average square feet
Heating and ventilation
Temperature and air circulation are crucial, but often overlooked, environmental factors that impact yield. If the temperature or humidity is too high, plants may wilt and experience pathogen growth. If temperatures are too low photosynthesis decreases, and plant growth may slow or stop altogether.
- 1000 plants that have recovered from powdery mildew equal 700 average yielding plants
- 30,000 square feet of indoor space with an inadequate temperature may yield the same as 27,500 average square feet
Outdoor operations are less confined by space and benefit from the best, and cheapest, light source available – the sun. For outdoor growers, forecasting yield and throughput is essential to accelerate the harvesting process. This reduces time to market and can provide farmers valuable early business opportunities, before supply meets demand later in the season.
Depending on the strain, hemp farmers yield on average 700lbs of grain/flower per acre, while cannabis famers typically yield 575lbs of dry flower in the same space. On the surface this makes predicting required throughput for a single harvest easy. However, outdoor growers are exposed to unpredictable environmental factors.
The geographic location of a farm is a consistent environmental factor, with latitude affecting daylight hours and the length of the season. Therefore, a farmer in Colorado may expect to produce more than the 700lbs of grain/flower per acre, while a farmer in Washington may accept less. Annual flowering plants need eight hours of sunlight minimum, with unshaded south-facing sites maximizing the amount received.
If the season has few sunny days, adjust the data processed by the product selector for a better reading:
- 15 acres of cannabis with more sunlight than expected may yield the same as 20 average acres
- 30 acres of hemp in a season with inadequate sunlight may produce the same as 15 average acres
Plant nutrition & irrigation
Site location also plays a major role in soil quality, which can be maintained and improved by fertilizer and irrigation. As the size of plants increases so does their ability to consume large amounts of water, so access to a good source of clean water, free of hard minerals and chemicals, is essential.
If plants haven’t been able to secure the right nutrient uptake, this should be factored into the product selector inputs for a more realistic result.
- 15 acres of cannabis that experienced drought may produce the same as 5 average acres
- 30 acres of hemp with insufficient fertilization may equal the average yield of 25 acres
While the size of harvest can be harder to predict outdoors, the desired harvest time is usually a fixed deadline to fill a delivery window. Analyzing this timeline, in connection with expected yield, identifies the throughput capacity required in trimming and bucking machinery.
40,000lbs of dry hemp grain/flower needs to be trimmed in 80 hours:
40,000lbs / 80 = 500 Lbs/hr required throughput
In this instance the grower may be best suited to the CenturionPro XL 10 – which can trim 600lbs of dry hemp or cannabis per hour.
Every harvest is unique with different responses to environmental changes, nutrient solutions and training methods. When using the product selector, growers should predict harvest size based on genetic and environmental factors in combination with experience. If the environmental fluctuation wasn’t dramatic enough to have a significant impact on yield, for example, growers should use their best judgement and take this into consideration.
Looking to the future
When forecasting yield and required throughput, outdoor farmers should accommodate for wider variations than their indoor counterparts, due to reduced environmental control. For efficiency, the main motivation behind yield and throughput forecasts, it is always better to have too much harvesting capacity than too little. As the cannabis and hemp industries continue to develop, investing in a bigger machine today may protect you against increased throughput tomorrow. The best bud trimmers and weed buckers also have diverters, enabling growers to customize processing speeds during the expansion process.
As a supplier of harvesting automation solutions, CenturionPro is committed to continue servicing customers during the COVID-19 crisis. By doing so we hope to improve the automation of the world’s cannabis producers. Allowing them to meet the growing demand while still complying with government-imposed restrictions and recommendations. To speak with us about how to improve harvesting automation at your farm or facility, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-855-535-0558 or 1.604.457.1101.