The following op-ed was originally printed in the December 2017 issue of Marijuana Venture, on sale now.
Fall quickly turns into winter out here in Central Washington. We are able to grow year-round in our state-of-the-art greenhouses, but we make seasonal adjustments to labor, workflows and environmental controls.
In the summer we grow with sunshine and use evaporative cooling pads to provide some nice, cool air on our hot and dry days. We maintain the environment around 75 degrees, even when its 110-plus degrees outside. When the colder days roll around and there are a couple feet of snow outside, we have more than 5,000 gallons of propane and 1.2 million BTUs of heat available. Pair that with our 220 1,000-watt lights and we are able to keep production going strong through winter.
Our fertigation and vegetative schedules also change with the seasons. In the summer, the sunlight increases growth rate and production, which decreases vegetative time and increases fertigation as the plants grow taller and larger. In the winter, as the natural sunlight is considerably reduced and the plants rely upon more supplemental lighting, the vegetative growth time increases slightly. Fertigation in the winter is reduced as we refine the plant canopy considerably through lollipopping, deleafing and selective node removal, all to account for the reduction of natural sunlight. Because the plants are a bit shorter and have less canopy to support, their nutrient requirements are reduced slightly.
Winter also causes us to be aware of many things we take for granted in the summer, like transporting plants between our vegetative and flowering greenhouses. In the summer, the plants simply enjoy a nice stroll outside and get some air and sunlight moving from greenhouse to greenhouse. However, in the winter the plants are in containers that protect them from the cold wind and air. Eventually, a climate-controlled walkway will be added to take away the need for the extra concern.
We continue to evaluate and adjust as the seasons carry on, always trying to find ways to improve our processes and products. It’s the constant attention to details — and the flexibility to make needed changes immediately — that allow us to continue to thrive in the best industry on Earth.