Nine mistakes companies make when planning a cannabis greenhouse (and how to prevent them) 

December 21, 2022 | Category : Cannabis Knowledge | Posted By : Deon Maas

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In our travels and talks with cannabis-experts all over the globe, we have come to learn one thing: Everybody is (more or less) having the same problems. So, we decided to start sharing some information. Lorenz Minks is one of Cannavigia’s consultants – when you have some questions and you’re thinking of who you’re going to call, it may be a good choice to give him a shout. So, to get the ball rolling, we asked him to list the mistakes companies make when planning a cannabis greenhouse and how to prevent them. (Previously we spoke to Elias Galantay about nine problems that cannabis growers encounter in general and how to solve them. You can find it here). 

So let’s kick it off with an obvious one: 

One: Building your greenhouse too big 

“Think about things realistically,” says Lorenz, “how much you can sell in a year. Then calculate back how many plants you have to cultivate at a time to reach these goals and then determine the space to cater for that. Many investors listen to business advisors who quote really big figures, but it’s usually an over-estimation. A lot of advisors look at the prospected demands for legalized markets and they forget that the black market will continue to exist. A lot of large-scale companies are selling their greenhouses for a lot less than what they paid for them just some months or years ago.” 

Two: Quantity over quality 

“A lot of people go for the kilograms, but they forget about what makes their product special – what brings customers to their product and what makes them want it again and again. Especially with recreational cannabis, it’s like wine. It’s not about how much you produce but the level of the taste that brings people back.” 

Three: They don’t see the big picture 

“A lot of people are asking for the best fertiliser and the best seeds and the best everything, but they don’t take into consideration what is best for their product, what is the best fit. They need to ask themselves, what the best overall process for their whole operation from seed to sale is.  
Is this fertiliser the best for this specific cultivation method or variety? If it’s not, it’s useless to spend that money. It should be a holistic approach where the individual parts fit together to form the bigger picture.” 

Four: Refusing to take the more expensive option 

“You need to figure out exactly what you need, to carry out your process to produce the expected quality. If you buy cheap, you buy twice. If you buy cheap just because it is cheap you run the risk of having higher running costs. In most cases the higher the initial outlay, the cheaper it will work out in the long run – for instance lights. If you buy the more expensive LEDs but it uses less power, your investment can be paid off in two years and your profits will become bigger on the long run.” 

Five: Using culturally appropriate technology 

“Just because a specific machine or other technology works well in the USA, doesn’t mean it will work well in Zimbabwe. Different places require different approaches. The machine may be more expensive than doing the same job with manpower. Using the most expensive option doesn’t mean that it makes economic sense, especially if the initial layout means that the running costs are higher than what can be accomplished without that specific technology. Water consumption, price of electricity, space, the price of labour…these are all factors that need to be taken into consideration before the decision is made to invest in expensive technology.” 

Six: Cost of electricity and production 

“When it comes to electricity running cost, many people think mainly about lights, how many do they need and how much electricity it will use. But controlling the humidity and temperature is actually more expensive. Climate control and ventilation is very important and makes a huge contribution to cost – both in initial cost and running cost.” 

Seven: The role of humidity 

“People mostly underestimate the importance of humidity. When cultivating crops, humidity can be really high and it’s invisible. Remember that unlike a lot of other plants grown in greenhouses, cannabis does not have a peel to protect it. If a fruit has a peel, the condensation can run down and drip from the bottom of the fruit. Because cannabis does not have a protective peel, the humidity settles in-between the stacked leaves and creates a whole micro climate. Humidity can make or break your crop.” 

Eight: Facility layouts based on simplified process design 

“Some people do their overall workflow planning way in advance as part of facility planning and create a rhythm that they consider easy, but it doesn’t always work practically. They will for instance decide that they will harvest on a Monday and then want to plant the next crop on a Monday too, but they don’t factor in the cleaning process. This means that everything takes longer than planned and the whole time-management process falls apart. Each of the small processes that makes up the bigger process takes a certain amount of time that can be pre-determined, but it also needs time scheduled for set-up, cleaning and other greenhouse administration that needs to happen. Minute detailed facility and time management is important.” 

Nine: Airflow can contaminate everything 

“Microbes are invisible, but cultivators need to think about them all the time. Electricity flow is important and so is water flow, but most people forget about airflow and it should not be overlooked. It is important to visualise how these microbes flow in your greenhouse and the easiest way to do this is with a smoke generator. Seeing where the smoke goes will give you an idea how the airflow is working. There may be air coming in from the outside and sometimes the system can suck microbials or other harmful particles from uncontrolled outdoor air. Although many cultivators think in under pressure terms to support plant transpiration, over pressure cascades are key in hygienic design.” 

We hope you learnt something new.  
We have a great team of consultants who can help you to find the best solutions to the problems mentioned. Reach out to us so we can talk about your project!