Facilities could potentially reduce labor needs, produce healthier plants and maximize their cultivation space
Between juggling environmental controls, hiring an experienced team and navigating strict regulations, the modern cannabis grower has a lot to think about. If you’re among the countless cultivators looking to streamline and simplify, one of the first items to address is your facility’s layout, including whether to have separate vegetative and bloom rooms. With today’s technology and growing methods, these grow rooms can be combined — and could require less work and produce healthier plants.
In the natural world, the cannabis lifecycle reflects the slow shift of the seasons, germinating in spring, entering adolescence during the summer and reproducing in late summer or early autumn. Indoor grow facilities do their best to replicate this natural environment and accelerate the process.
In the veg room, plants go from an immature stage to adolescence in an artificial spring. During this step in their growth, plants expand root systems, strengthen stems and add volume and height.
The bloom room is characterized by more intense light, signaling to plants that it’s time to flower.
When combining the veg and bloom rooms, setting up appropriate infrastructure, establishing necessary protocol and properly using lighting technology and other environmental controls allows growers to increase efficiency and gain more control over their results.
Save Time and Energy
Eliminating the veg room reduces time-intensive, hands-on labor, so growers need to adjust workflows and scheduling accordingly. Instead of spending hours physically moving plants between rooms, the cultivation team can devote more time to other tasks.
Combining veg and bloom rooms can also be beneficial for growers with space limitations or those looking to use their indoor space more efficiently. Increasing the efficiency of cultivation spaces could allow producers to use additional space for other purposes, such as an extraction lab or commercial kitchen. Because indoor grow facilities require constant environmental controls, combining veg and bloom rooms can result in less energy usage and thereby lower utility bills.
Plants can go into shock when moved from room to room and from low to high intensity light. Think about it this way: In the plants’ natural environment, the seasons gradually change. Just as you wouldn’t want to be woken up with headlights, plants don’t like being thrust from the gentle light of spring into full-blown summer.
It simply doesn’t match plant evolution and might negatively affect the development of invaluable cannabinoids, or inhibit plants from reaching maturity altogether. Rather, plants need an adjustment period for the best possible results.
An incremental increase of light intensity and temperature better reflects plants’ natural evolution.
The Right Equipment
A smooth transition between separate veg and bloom rooms to one combined room requires the proper growing equipment.
Among the most important tools that can truly make or break this transition is the appropriate lighting fixtures. Advanced LEDs sometimes offer dimming and spectral tuning capabilities, allowing growers to easily adjust the intensity and spectral combination their plants receive, fine-tuning the light throughout the plants’ growth. Additionally, some of these fixtures allow growers to preschedule light cycles, freeing up time for other tasks that require a hands-on approach.
Also, growers might consider pulley systems to move their lights closer to or farther away from the plant canopy as needed, providing increased control over the light and its intensity.
One final note when it comes to lights: Growers who are truly committed to space-efficiency should look for lights that can be vertically racked to take full advantage of both square footage and cubic footage.
Environmental controls, including the entire HVAC system, are another critical aspect. Growers need to guarantee their grow room remains within ideal zones for both temperature and humidity, even as light intensity increases. Out-of-control temperature and humidity can invite disastrous issues like mold or pest infestation.
Address Other Pressures
When eliminating the veg room, additional pressures are placed on other aspects of the cultivation process — notably, propagation. The traditional propagation arrangement, involving a set of mother plants that are cloned, cancels out some of the space-saving benefits that come with eliminating the veg room as space will still be needed for these mother plants.
Tissue culture cultivation, on the other hand, is an ideal solution. This advanced propagation method requires less space and results in countless genetically identical clones. Tissue culture cultivation can be a challenging process, requiring employees with experience in the field. Additionally, tissue culture cultivation necessitates a completely sterile environment, as any contaminant can completely derail the process.
While combining veg and bloom rooms may seem like an easy way to cut costs without sacrificing quality, it requires ample planning and preparation. Growers will need the right tools and expertise to support plants through every step of their growth — and, in this case, small mistakes can have serious consequences. If you decide combining rooms is a good move for you and your business, follow best practices to prevent outside contamination, as seemingly small issues can spread like wildfire to your entire crop (rather than being separated into smaller, more manageable rooms).
Even so, this approach can make sense for cultivators who are conscious of their energy, space and budget concerns.
When done properly, merging these rooms can result in less work for you and your team and better results in the long run.
Andrew Myers is president and CEO of ProGrowTech, which helps commercial horticulture operations increase profitability, yield and energy efficiency with industry-leading LED lighting systems. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.progrowtech.com.