“The difference between good cannabis and excellent cannabis is the attention to all the smallest details, from the cultivation, to the harvesting,” says Zack Newman with Dr Robb Farm, a cannabis producer in the State of California. “One of the biggest things people underestimate is how much space is necessary to carry out specific operations,” he explains. “For instance, some growers focus more on providing plants with larger flowering spaces, and then the veg phase is the second thing they address, thus tending to ignore the drying process.”
The need for consistent high quality and clean products requires growers to take into consideration all the aforementioned aspects already during the planning and designing phase. “I have been growing cannabis for a long time,” Zack says. “The key aspect is efficiency. Every time you have to figure out efficiency. For instance, if you are going to an existing space, you have to work with what has already been constructed. This is not much advisable, as addressing issues as one goes can be very costly, as well as being extremely difficult.” That is why Zack has built his grow operations from the ground up. “This way, we can maintain a certain ratio, as you do not want to rush anything or just to do a quick patch-up job later on.”
This is the main reason why it is of the utmost important to optimize the space of a greenhouse or an indoor farm in such a way that every process can be carried out with the necessary space. “You have to consider how you are going to move the harvested product within the facility, how much space you need, where you are going to store it and in what way,” he points out. “All of these are crucial elements to ensure high quality flowers. This is because you don’t want to rush these processes as the flower quality can be compromised inevitably, just one step before getting it into the market. If you do not take shortcuts at the beginning of the project, then you will not have unpleasant surprises later on.”
In order to carry out the harvesting operations, Zack utilizes equipment by Munch Machine, a machine that facilitates the harvesting, allowing to save both on labor and time. “We have a cutting team that does the chop, and then there is a processing team that feeds the machine. After that, there is a stocking team that lays the flowers on trays and gets the drying environment set up,” he explains.
The Bucking machines by Munch Machine drastically reduce labor all while preserving perfect flower quality. The machine has a plate in the front that has a series of circular holes to insert the stem of the plant,” Zack describes. “Behind the panel, there are a couple of rubber rollers and a motor. Once the stem goes into the hole, the rubber rollers grab the stem and pull it. Thus, the holes knock the buds right off and you have a receptacle underneath where the buds fall. It is a lot of fun for people that use it. My guys take turns because they all want a run with that.”
Additionally, the bucking machines allow growers to decide how they want to carry out the harvesting. “It can be wet or dry harvesting,” Zack remarks. “Processing companies might prefer to use the machine with dried flowers and at a slow speed as they want to preserve certain properties of the plant when it will be processed. However, we prefer to do it immediately with freshly cut plants and at high speed in order to ensure the highest quality and flavor to our flowers.”
Efficiency is the key
According to Matt Beechinor with Munch Machine, efficiency will be the crucial element that will distinguish successful growers from the rest. As the cannabis industry matures, you can see growers moving towards custom-built facilities specifically for cannabis,” he points out. “Newer facilities have a well-planned and a well thought out harvesting space. That’s because if this is not carefully designed, then efficiency decreases. In the future as the industry goes to scale, competition and overproduction will cause prices to drop. The most efficient producers that can survive low prices will be the winners.”
Matt further explains that Munch Machine has been working for many years in the agricultural industry, developing industrial agriculture equipment for the hop industry. “The cannabis industry of the future will be very similar to contemporary horticulture or agriculture,” he remarks. “Both these sectors have spent a great number of years to increase the efficiency of their processes. That’s because they have been working with commodity products, the price of which tends to go down, especially if there is overproduction.”
According to Matt, wholesale prices for cannabis will continue to decline from the high prices enjoyed during prohibition. Due to artificially inflated prices, growers in the past have not been focused on driving down cost of production. Growers who stick with labor intensive hand harvesting are making a mistake. “Without a doubt, agriculture and horticulture will shape the future of the cannabis industry, bringing large-scale efficiencies into this special subset of horticulture. Reliable equipment will be a key component.
Cannabis farmers now demand the same level of industrial equipment and customer service Munch Machine been providing to the hops industry for generations. “We’ve learned over the years that supporting our products long term is far more important than the original sale. Munch Machine works closely with their clients to help them optimize their process and achieve maximum efficiency."