MJBizMag March 2021 - 46

From the Roots Up
Cannabis
companies turn
to experimentation,
contract labor and
technology to make
planting operations
more efficient
P
lanting is among the most laborintensive
parts of the cannabis
growing process-and arguably
one of the most crucial to get right.
While larger, commercial agriculture
operations including those in hemp
can use traditional equipment such
as tractors and row planters, many
marijuana growers still plant the hard
way: by hand.
Unless an indoor grow or greenhouse
operation has shelled out huge money for
automated solutions, the clones, cuttings
or seeds most likely are going into some
type of growing medium via manual
labor. But there are better ways to do this
than others, experts say.
" Every time the plant is moved
or transplanted, it costs time and
money-and growth time is lost, "
said Sam Ghods, CEO of Connected
Cannabis, a Sacramento, Californiabased
marijuana company with a grow
operation in Arizona. " In looking to
decrease that cost and improve rate of
growth, we look to move that plant as
little as possible. "
PLANTING EFFICIENCY
For Ghods, that means minimal
transplanting and maximal vegetative
grow space and time before the plant
goes into flower.
Ongoing research with different pot
sizes, grow mediums and watering
frequencies all factor into minimizing
plant touching and maximizing growth
for Connected Cannabis.
At Denver-based marijuana operator
Lightshade, the cultivation staff pots
clones and transplants larger plants
Connected Cannabis in Sacramento, California, aims to move its plants as infrequently as possible.
Courtesy Photo
as part of the weekly workflow in the
indoor and greenhouse operations.
" One thing we do to increase efficiency
in that area is to use compressed coconut
coir media that is hydrated on-site, "
said Dan Banks, director of cultivation
strategy. " This allows us to bypass all of
the labor typically tied up in filling pots. "
The organic media Banks uses is
engineered to have specific and reliable
air- and water-holding capacity.
" The really innovative thing
about this media is that it is shipped
dry/compressed and already
pre-portioned into grow bags, " he said.
" To ready pots for use, we just spread
the dry bags out and flood our trays. "
The bricks hydrate from the bottom,
and once they have expanded by
absorbing enough water, Banks' team is
ready to add plants.
The 1-gallon compressed containers
Lightshade uses for small plants can
be placed directly on the 3-gallon final
containers, reducing transplant labor.
With indoor grows, Ryan Douglas, a
cannabis cultivation consultant based
in Vero Beach, Florida, recommends
cultivators designate a specific station for
planting to increase efficiency. Douglas'
system prevents workers from having to
46 Marijuana Business Magazine | March 2021
lug seedlings and materials to a different
room for each planting.
" This ensures consistency, saves time,
and the transporting of plants from the
planting station to the new growing area
should only take a matter of minutes, "
he said.
In greenhouses, Douglas suggests
bigger commercial operations consider
automating the transplanting process.
Technology commonly found in
traditional horticulture-such as potfilling
machines, irrigation stations and
fertigation systems-can be employed
for cannabis production to expedite
tasks, he said. (See " Getting the Right
Tool for the Job " on page 48.)
LABOR TIPS
As far as staffing, Connected Cannabis
employs farm-labor contractors for
heavy lifting such as days when the
company harvests, cleans and replants a
5,000-square-foot room.
The company's cultivation team uses
farm-labor contractors for trimming,
harvesting and planting. Depending on
the size of the job, Connected Cannabis
will bring in anywhere from 10 to 100
people to handle the task, with close
supervision from company management.
Sowing Solutions
By Bart Schaneman

MJBizMag March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MJBizMag March 2021

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