If you currently run a small grow operation, you may one day consider becoming large-scale. But commercial cannabis growing is big business, and it requires a commitment to getting things right from the start. Your initial investment will be not only money for the best equipment, but also a significant amount of time.
Planning your grow space, materials and systems in advance will get you off to a great start. Needless to say, it’s important that you also understand and comply with local and state regulations.
The first task is finding a location that offers you the space you need now and the potential for expansion later on. Zoning regulations will help guide you to the areas most likely to provide what you need. Warehouse-sized operations should include the capacity for major electrical requirements.
After you’ve found a location, hire an electrician to ensure a safe setup. Once you estimate the power that your system can handle, it’s necessary to map your area. Make a note not only of where each lamp, air control unit, dehumidifier and other equipment that draws electricity will be placed, but how much power each equipment will use. Map all cables, outlets and power usage to help you maintain energy needs and quickly identify equipment failures.
Also map water movement, making sure there is plenty of drainage and containment to keep humidity to a minimum. Installing industrial water filtration systems will ensure that your water supply is of the best quality for commercial application.
After mapping the area and making a list of what you’ll need, acquire the equipment. Your largest expense to the budget will most likely be lighting. An average commercial grow setup will use 50,000-100,000 watts of lighting in the flowering area. This will be in the form of 50 to 100 lighting units that run 1000 watt high-pressure sodium lamps. Double-ended high intensity discharge lamps are currently the preferred system.
Until recently, both single-ended and double-ended lights have remained the biggest overall expense. Recently, smaller local businesses have started sourcing the same materials that the expensive lamps and ballasts use and offering them at a more affordable price. Finding the lowest price for high-quality equipment will lower your overall cost, saving money from the start.
The same name-brand lamp (which may cost $500-$700) can be found for $250-$300. It’s best to shop around and find the company that offers the best price. A smaller equipment company is able to offer direct buying at a lower rate than a major retailer, which often require that you purchase a commercial license from them. Take the time to contact the manufacturer and inquire about their wholesale rates, warranty and service policy.
Using blueprints helps you construct the space while sourcing the best equipment for your needs. Hiring a contractor is a wise investment to ensure that building, electrical and watering systems are up to code and professionally built. Many power companies have peak hours that cost the most. Any local contractor can help you find the best time to use major electricity at the best price per kilowatt-hour.
The choice of whether to use soil, deep-water culture, hydroponics or aeroponics will dictate how your area will be set up. For example, a soil garden must have an area to deal with planting and soil reclaim, while a hydroponics system requires a space for water treatment and pumping.
Your facility may consist of cloning, vegetative and flowering rooms. If state and local regulations allow it, a best practice is also to have a drying and trimming area in the same facility or property. This provides more overall control and safety. Remember that many states require video surveillance and security alarm systems in all areas.
Managing time, people, product, regulations and production requires a well-built system. Take the time to implement your plan. Once all the systems are in place and you’re ready to start your grow, test the system for at least five days to ensure the setup can handle the work and heat. Automate anything you can, keep records of everything done each day and who worked in what area. In addition, many states require inventory tracking systems for each seed and plant.
© 2019 CAN Performance Group, LLC. All rights reserved.