How LEDs can improve post-harvest cannabis quality

Most growers are familiar with the careful fertility, pest, and light management decisions that go into improving hemp and cannabis quality. There are also post-harvest factors that growers must manage to ensure that yield, quality, and time do not go to waste. This article explores how LED lighting can boost your post-harvest profits and provide consistent production. 

Boost the Quality of Your Cannabis Extracts 
GreenEdge point-of-sale tracking recently reported that retail cannabis concentrate sales are projected to hit $8 billion by 2022. Extraction is big business. But as Vitalis, a CO2 extraction company reminds us, “The belief that more mass is better is misleading. Higher quality mass with greater recoverable material is better.” 

Higher-caliber extraction equipment can boost oil yield and quality during processing. However, there are also lighting strategies growers should consider when cultivating for extract. 

So how do you cultivate for extract? 

Light spectrum can profoundly affect cannabinoid and terpene profiles throughout production. Growers using LED grow lights often see increased cannabinoid content and higher terpene levels compared to HPS lighting. 

Examples of terpene chemical structures (L-R): α-pinene, linalool, and limonene 

An example from a LumiGrow research study used high-blue spectrum treatments to increase terpene concentrations in some varieties of cannabis. The increased terpene levels boost the concentration of their extracts. In this way, LED light spectrum can be custom-tailored by strain. 

By using LEDs to nurture and expand biochemical profiles as your crop matures, you can set yourself up for a more profitable product. 

We recommend that commercial producers encourage coordination between growers and processing teams to better achieve their company’s business goals.  

Lose Less Flower to Your Trimmer 
The form and shape of cannabis flowers is a subtlety of cannabis cultivation that often gets overlooked. Most commercial cultivators are focused on hitting their yield and quality numbers. However, flower shape can dramatically affect how profitable a bud becomes.

When your harvested cannabis bud is airier and irregularly shaped, you are more likely to lose significant amounts of flower as it passes through your auto-trimmer. Even the newest industrial wet trimming technologies have limited ability to reduce waste.  

Common differences between LED-grown cannabis buds and HPS-grown cannabis buds

The density of LED-grown flower translates to more weight post-trim and less trichomes lost in the process. This helps retain the potency and unique characteristics of your crop. Ultimately, you get a higher premium for your finished goods with LED lighting. 

Obtaining the greatest profit margin requires considering how variables such as lighting can improve your commercial cultivation process from seed-to-sale. 

Use the Best Cannabis Technology to Differentiate Your Product 
The cannabis industry is undergoing price compression as the larger producers saturate the market. It’s become more important than ever to differentiate your product to keep in business.

In a 2019 article by Marijuana Business Daily, 46% of wholesale cultivators differentiated their product based on quality.

Whether you’re looking to optimize for craft quality, potency or brand, the quality of your equipment will directly translate to the quality of your product.

Antiquated technologies and methods are being phased out due to lack of efficiency, efficacy and controllability. In the world of lighting we see an increasing number of growers switching to LEDs from HPS. Growers recognize that there are limits to HPS fixtures’ ability to optimize operations. LEDs can provide the adjustability and energy efficiency that HPS fixture lack and eliminate the need for long cooling periods altogether.

We’re seeing the same phenomenon happen in other cultivation equipment, as well as post-production equipment like trimmers and extractors.

The good news is that the best technology isn’t out of reach for any commercial grow. The best grow equipment often comes with a payback period well worth the investment.

Whether you’re searching for the best LED grow lights or best control system for your grow, make sure to:

  • Educate yourself about your equipment. There are many new, unproven companies banking on you not doing your homework.
  • Consider return-on-investment for the lifecycle of your business.
  • Demand great service and support. Don’t settle for less.

Setting your crop apart in the marketplace really begins with reliably hitting yield quotas and creating a consistent product. Once your basic operations are dialed in the easiest next step is to invest in quality technology capable of taking your grow to the next level.

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