One of the first challenges that the newly born cannabis industry had to address was the widespread lack of knowledge regarding growing cannabis at a large scale. Now that the sector is maturing as ever more countries regulate the production of cannabis, people have started to recognize how crucial it is to have the right knowledge before jumping on this ‘green’ wagon.
Addressing the basics
This is exactly the reason why Grower2grower has organized a workshop in New Zealand in order to prepare growers who are interested in this business. It will be held in Pukekohe, New Zealand, on 31st March. Sonny Moerenhout, managing partner with the consulting company Cannabis Cultivators, will be a keynote speaker at the event. “I think this is a great opportunity for growers to learn the basics of this industry in order to be successful by the time the government will start issuing cultivation licenses,” he says. Indeed, at the moment, New Zealand is issuing scientific research licenses only. However, starting from April 2020, they will also start releasing cultivation licenses. “The government and the public are getting increasingly sensitive when it comes to cannabis regulations,” Sonny points out. “In September, there will be a referendum for the decriminalization of cannabis, for instance.”
When it comes to the knowledge that New Zealand growers have regarding horticulture and cannabis, Sonny explains that the level is similar to the one in Australia. “Both countries are following Dutch technologies and expertise, and they apply those cultivation methods that allow them to achieve the highest standards.”
“New Zealand growers are mainly eyeing the Asian market, obviously with regards to the medical side of it,” Sonny points out. “At the same time, they also want to export to Europe in the future. This is why they need to be at the top of their game when it comes to growing cannabis.”
From horticulture vs cannabis to IPM
This is exactly the reason why Sonny will tackle a vast array of topics that would shed some light on the elements to take into consideration when growing medical cannabis. “The day will start with an introductory talk, during which I will explain the main differences between traditional horticulture and cannabis cultivation,” he says. “We could say that this introduction will be mainly focused on the difference between growing for the food industry and growing for the pharma industry. It is important to treat cannabis with exceptional care, also considering that many times this represents only one of the ingredients that will end up in the finished medicine.”
Then, Sonny will touch upon the different growing systems available and the decision making necessary that comes with them. Thus, he will closely describe the plant growth and how to successfully plan the crop with regards to lighting, heating, humidity, and density. After that, irrigation and substrates will be explored. And finally, the ‘hot’ topic of crop protection will be discussed, focusing on the identification of diseases and how to effectively fight them.
“There are many growers with a very extensive horticultural background in New Zealand,” Sonny observes. “And this is one of the country’s strengths. It will not be the biggest cannabis market, but some specialized growers will stand out, together with some pharma companies, thus becoming significant players in the cannabis industry of the near future.”