There are many theories around what the best method is to cultivate medical cannabis. But as a grower, it's important to know what works and to rely on the best practices of a well-established horticultural methodology. If you combine that with latest crop knowledge and technology, you can produce high yields of medical cannabis and build a very successful business.
Tip 1: Finding the right growing environment
Choosing the right structure is critical since it will affect both your quality and your ROI. For hotter areas, you will need good rooftop ventilation. For colder climates, you may need a glasshouse.
Netafim™ offers a wide range of greenhouse structures, suitable for a diverse range of climate conditions. Our experts adapt the most suitable technology for a wide range of climate zones, market demands and the customer's financial capabilities.
Tip 2: Controlling climate and lighting
Maintaining a tight control over climate conditions is the key to optimize plant development as well as reducing risk of pests and diseases. By maintaining the correct humidity and temperature you can avoid mites, mildew and other fungal infections. Light deprivation systems are a must for control of flowering but if they are not smartly designed you will have light coming in from different components in the greenhouse affecting your plants' performance
Tip 3: Installing the right irrigation and fertigation system
Medical cannabis requires very different irrigation protocols at different stages of growth. The first stage, propagation, needs light droplets, high humidity and a system that supports small containers. The second stage, when the new plants are mature enough to be transferred to the production area, requires a uniform irrigation with high frequency and zero added humidity.
Our special PC CNL drippers are not only pressure regulated but also non-drainage, and allow several irrigation cycles per day to evenly water the plants and optimize root development.
To address the fertigation needs of medical cannabis you should know how to flexibly adjust the ratio of nutrients based on development stage and environment. Our Netaflex fertigation system is a precise, state-of-the-art open-tank dosing system. This means that a final and accurate irrigation solution is prepared constantly in the tank based on 6 different dosing channels, then the solution is tested for correct composition and only then delivered to the plants. And this is a continuous process.
Tip 4: The right monitoring and control systems
To grow medical-grade cannabis, you have to maintain the high-quality standards required by the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that your production process is documented and traceable. You should be prepared to present irrigation, fertigation and plant protection specs available on demand for any given plant. With our digital farming and monitoring tools which have in-built traceability, you can know exactly what’s going on with your crop at any given moment.
Tip 5: Having the right drainage management system
Since growing in soilless media requires irrigating with drainage volume of 30% or more, reusing drainage can save you 30-40% on your fertilizer expenses and water use. Additionally, the drainage volume measurement is a great way to monitor and control irrigation. In case of medical cannabis, in many countries drainage carries legal obligations. Because of the crops narcotic nature, drainage can’t always be conveniently flushed into a river. Having the right drainage management system can help you avoid any unnecessary legal hassles.
Tip 6: Finding the right experts to work with
To get the best crop, you need to find the right expert who can guide you at every stage of your medical cannabis project. Netafim has been doing large scale, hi-tech greenhouse projects for over 50 years, and has accumulated a significant track record in all crops including solutions for growing medical cannabis worldwide. If you are looking for expert advice, come talk to us.
The article was published in #2 edition Cannabis2020