As the cannabis industry matures, wholesale prices are in decline. To maintain profitability, growers are experiencing new pressures to reduce the cost of production. A novel patent-pending lighting solution from Thrive Agritech has been launched to help growers achieve this goal.
Getting light to penetrate to the bottom of the canopy is an age-old problem. Production at the lower levels of the plant is typically only a fraction of that at the top of the canopy. Growers frequently trim away underdeveloped product below the canopy, which is essentially throwing away part of the investment in nutrients, water, CO2 and light that has been consumed by the plant. With Thrive’s approach, called under canopy lighting, growers place light fixtures below the canopy to develop, high quality, saleable product instead of discarding it.
According to Thrive Agritech, many of the leading growers in North America have adopted this concept and are seeing increases in production yield ranging from 10%-25%. Thrive states that the increase in yield almost always pays for the investment in the under canopy lighting within the first harvest.
The Terrapin's way
Terrapin Care Station, located in Colorado, is one of Thrive’s customers that has implemented under canopy lighting. Terrapin is one of the oldest cannabis companies in the world, having been active for 10 years. “We started as a medical company in 2009 in Boulder, CO,” says Peter Marcus. “In 2012, recreational cannabis was legalized in Colorado, and in 2014 it eventually took effect. We were the first to win a recreational license in Boulder, CO and Aurora, CO. Only a handful of companies have been awarded cultivation and processing licenses, and we were the first ones among these. We also have a cultivation license in Michigan, and additionally, we have a pending license application in both New Jersey and Missouri.”
Thanks to its many years of activity within this sector, Terrapin has learned a lot when it comes to what makes a cannabis operation successful. “One of the biggest things is to overestimate everything,” says Ian Peak, master grower with Terrapin. “A number of growers want to save upfront, which is not necessarily the wrong approach. However, what if one AC breaks down? The growing room would be inevitably messed up. Therefore, one has to be sure to have ‘extra of everything’, so that climate can stay perfect throughout the growing process.”
According to Ian, the same goes for lighting. “At the same time, I have seen some growers that want to go cheap with the lighting,” he points out. “However, plants need the correct amount of light in order to grow, so it just doesn’t make sense to opt for a cheap lighting solution.” On the other hand, when it comes to nutrients, Ian has seen that a common mistake is to overfeed the plants. “If you give too many nutrients to cannabis plants, or even the wrong nutrients, they would grow unhealthy, and could also get burned. In other words, it would represent a huge loss, with regards to both yield and profits.”
To learn more about Terrapin's under canopy lighting installation, watch this video
The importance of being fully organic
“One of the biggest things we learned is the importance of being fully organic, first and foremost to provide patients with safe and clean products,” Ian further says. “Creating a good and efficient IPM means that the grow operation will be successful. In order to address this, you have to go back to the facility design. Everything comes down to the initial setup, where climate control needs to be outlined in a perfect manner.”
Over time, Terrapin has developed a model for their cultivation facilities which they bring to any new market they enter. “We have a successful model that we implement any time we enter a new market,” Peter says. “We send our team to set up the new facility and the SOPs, because to produce medicines that will help people, you need the right mindset, and this is exactly what you get with Terrapin.”
When it comes to lighting, Terrapin utilizes LED lighting by Thrive Agritech. “What I really like about this system is its ease of use,” Ian explains. “With the use of Thrive’s LEDs for under canopy lighting we’ve seen a 10% increase in the same square footage. The output, the spectrum, any of these is far beyond any LED that we have tried out. Not only that - their customer service is fantastic. They followed up on us, and if we have any questions or issues, they address them right away.”
Terrapin Care Station