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Cannabis and Greenhouses – An Ideal Mix

Cannabis cultivation is one of the fastest growing industries in the world today. Medicinal marijuana opened the doors and recreational licenses soon followed. In 2012 Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. California followed in 2016.  In 2017, 30 states have already legalized medicinal cannabis and 9 have legalized recreational cannabis. Canada is the world leading legal cannabis exporter. Europe is also following with plans to legalize medicinal cannabis in various countries. With the legalization wave proceeding rapidly, more and more growers have the incentive to go at it, industriously.

 

Industry figures that will blow your mind

In an article published in the Guardian[1] on February 2016, the pot industry is estimated at a value of $3.5 Billion. In November 2017 Forbes[2] published an estimate of $7.7 Billion, indicating that the cannabis worldwide market has doubled in less than two years. In the same article Forbes mentions a new report from the Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research firm, according to which the international market for cannabis is projected to hit $31.4 billion by 2021.

Make no mistake, there is money to be made. Cannabis related tourism is on the rise, sometimes creating a flux of 25% and contributing to state tax revenues. In Colorado total sales revenue from cannabis in 2015 was $996M, creating 18K new jobs with an overall economic impact of $2.4B[3]. In 2017 tax revenue from Marijuana in Colorado was $247M and 2018 is currently at $223M revenue in sales tax. According to the new frontier data report, sales taxes of legalized marijuana amounted to $655M[4]. So far in 2018 the state of California generated $34M in retail taxes from Marijuana sales.

 

Cannabis is an energy-hungry crop

A study by scientist Evan Mills, with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reveals that legalized indoor marijuana-growing operations account for 1% of total electricity use in the US, at a cost of $6bn per year. Since legalizing recreational cannabis in Colorado, HALF the electricity growth load in the state is attributed to indoor cannabis growing operations. This is a huge energy footprint that already causes environmental concerns due to emission of greenhouse gasses, but is also a threat to the already faltering power producing infrastructure in the USA.

In the California Emerald Triangle, a region known for its cannabis growing capabilities and crop quality, a local program referred to as the 9.31 Program[5] allowed local growers to grow marijuana in the sun once more. It only lasted a short two years, but it has proved that once of the best tools to grow high-quality cannabis is the sun[6]. The sun is better than any lamp when it comes to light intensity and spectrum.  Marijuana is a crop that needs lots and lot of light to grow. For quality lighting reasons as well as energy saving motivations, it turns out that good old traditional farming has a major role to play in creating an established high-quality cannabis industry.

 

Ideal growing conditions and best practices

To every crop, there are diverse conditions and practices to be considered to increase quality and yield. It is all about creating a balance of allowing the best in nature to take its course, while protecting the crops form the worst nature has to throw at them. Marijuana is no different. For example, keeping CO2 levels high, about 1,500 parts per million, is important to increasing bud size and density[7]. Protecting the plants from animals, pests and diseases is of utter importance.

Another concern in the temperature. While the sun light is great for marijuana, the heat may slow down growth as the plant uses energy to keep cool. UV light is also not good for the plants. It is always a delicate balance between dehydration and sunlight. Though Marijuana is considered a heat tolerant plant, ideal growing conditions help boost yields and produce fluffier high quality buds[8].  Cannabis requires daytime temperatures of 24-30°C (75-86°F), and night-time temperatures of 18-22°C (64-72°F). If the day/night temperature discrepancy is too big or if night temperatures are too low, growth rates will suffer considerably[9].

 

The advantage to growing marijuana in greenhouses

Growing Marijuana in greenhouses has many benefits to growers. The greenhouse enables longer growing seasons and the infrastructure is less complex than indoor growing operations[10]. By creating conditions of 12 hours of light and 12 house of darkness, marijuana plants can be manipulated into early flowering, increasing yields. A darkening system in a greenhouse is ideal to follow this practice.

Another advantage is automation. Today’s varying agriculture technologies make setting up lighting, watering and ventilation systems in greenhouses relatively easy. Marijuana can grow with little grower intervention, as long as it gets its required light and water.

Light, temperature and humidity are closely related. This is where shading nets and greenhouse cover films can come in handy, the greenhouse temperature, UV and humidity rates can be regulated, while the plants need not lose the direct sunlight. Shading is also a good idea when growers use supplementary lights to create ideal lighting conditions, by covering the greenhouse, this extra light will not be allowed to escape the greenhouse. With shading nets, light will also not enter the greenhouse during the required dark phases. Privacy is also a consideration when choosing the ideal greenhouse covering.

Ginegar Plastics offer diverse solution for growing varied crops in greenhouses and under shading nets. Aluminet accumulates the benefits of climate control and light diffusion to create a micro environment in greenhouses to protect crops from cold, pests, UV, over-heating and direct sunlight. The Sun Saver thermal film is designed to preserve the long infra-red radiation within the greenhouse, conserving heat and humidity and creating a moderate a stable environment for the crops inside

Growing cannabis in greenhouses is the ultimate method to combine the advantages of indoor and outdoor growing, while creating considerable cost and energy savings[11]. Legalization of cannabis has reduced the need to hide its growing activities and farmers can now make the most of growing on a large scale. Despite its shady reputation, farmers, scientists and other enthusiasts claim that the cannabis industry will enable social and economic development where it is allowed to flourish, enhancing quality of life.