Starting a vertical cannabis farm is a great way to double down on your grow facility and expand your business.
Though, anyone in the vertical farming industry knows that such an advanced setup comes with its difficulties and costs.
Let’s look at the reasons why you would want to grow vertical instead of expanding horizontally. We’ll consider some disadvantages of vertical cannabis farming and then get into some quick tips that’ll help you overcome these challenges for your business to succeed.
In the early days of cannabis, the illegality of the plant forced farmers to grow their buds indoors. Fast-forward to today and we still see lots of growers setting up grow rooms in warehouses.
Well, mostly because this is the way it’s been done for so long. Some cannabis farmers may have problems acquiring cultivation land or are concerned with security – but mostly it comes down to indoor farming is the only way they know how.
So, for indoor cannabis operations that want to expand their business, growing up can be quicker than growing out.
The primary reason for vertical farming comes down to space. That, and the ability to quickly scale up your cannabis business in climates where other grow methods are less than ideal.
You may want to consider vertical cannabis cultivation if:
There has certainly been some hesitation to going vertical that’s due to the many difficulties that are associated with a tiered system. By now, many farmers have learned from others that have failed, and by following a solid production plan you too can be successful at vertical cannabis farming.
You should consider these factors when setting up your vertical cannabis farm:
Now that you understand what you’re getting into, we’ve made it easier to get started below.
Your vertical grow system, also known as vertical racking or simply “racks”, is a great place to start. Any quality vertical grow system generally comes standard as a 4-foot by 8-foot palletized rack.
When sourcing your vertical system, make sure to consider irrigation pressure, drainage, and electrical. You’ll also have to choose between rolling or stationary racks. We recommend rolling for ease-of-use, but if you do choose stationary make sure there’s room for your employees to work.
When farming cannabis vertically, LED lighting is required. Whether you choose a white (broad) or targeted pink spectrum, the most important thing will be matching your light levels for optimal growth.
If you’re a generalist who’s looking to reliably hit industry standards, go with a broad spectrum. If you’re a craft grower looking for exotic bud development, pink light may give you more control over the quality of your buds. If you’re looking to really level-up your grow operation, spectrum control can help you fine-tune parts of your plants’ lifecycle development to speed up production and achieve an even higher quality flower.
Just make sure that you pick reliable lighting equipment. Hanging so much electrical in a confined space requires bullet-proof engineering that you trust.
There are certainly many options for heating and cooling your environment. In such a dense space, automation is more than ideal, so investing in sensors may be a good bet.
As for airflow, simply push your air down the open areas of your racking system while pulling it out from the other end. This method is similar to small greenhouses known as hoop-houses.
Vertical farming space is limited in most vertical grow systems, so you’ll want to keep plants short. This is like the Sea of Green (SOG) method. Only instead of a “Sea”, you will have many “Ponds” of Green. Your plants should not get more than 4-feet tall and will remain in their vegetative stage for a short amount of time.
Think of your grow system as a manufacturing facility. Speed becomes even more valuable once you’re producing twice the amount of product you were before.
We’ll be honest, vertical farming is not for the faint of heart – it takes commitment, passion, and skill. This production method is a change of pace for many growers. But luckily, there is enough automation and quality equipment on the market that these systems have become more plug-and-play than ever before. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get growing!
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