US: Grower harvests first medical marijuana in Arkansas

Robert Lercher and Mark Drennan gave the Arkansas Times a tour of the facility March 13, starting in the mother (or what Drennan calls the "mom") room, where snips from dozens of mother plants are being rooted to create BOLD Team's family of products. All the plants are females: To keep them from going to seed instead of continuing to flower, no males are allowed.

In the mother room, clones of Cannabis sativa and C. indica were happily rooting, either in small cubes of rockwool or an aerial form. They were growing under lights in the blue spectrum, at a wavelength that benefits baby marijuana plants (and, as it happens, boosts alertness in humans).

After rooting, the plants are potted in a medium of coconut shells and perlite and over the next several weeks are moved to long, clear-roofed growing areas. First stop: the "veg" nursery for their three-week adolescence. Here, pipes carrying fertilizer from three large vats provide calibrated nutrition to the plants. A PAR meter, which measures light photons, keeps the light in prime photosynthetic range and makes sure the teenagers don't get sunburned: When it hits a high reading, it will turn off half the lights in the room; in direct sunlight, the meter will turn off all the lights. Another device measures temperature and carbon dioxide levels.

At seven weeks, the plants are moved into the facility's seven flowering rooms, where the mature plants — now at around 7 weeks old — are encouraged to flower under high-pressure sodium lights in the red spectrum, 12 hours on and 12 hours off, mimicking the end of the growing season.

Should the growing rooms get too hot, panels into a cooler common area between the growing rooms will lift and its roof can open. Should that not do the trick, a system of cold water will pour down over the walls. Lercher, 35, and Drennan, 46, have seen a demonstration; they figure the Arkansas summer will trigger the system for real.

Read more at the Arkansas Times (Leslie Newell Peacock)


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