The domino effect of legalization in the United States has allowed more businesses and cultivators to jump into growing cannabis. As more states pass their own cannabis policies, the market continues to expand at an unprecedented pace – and indoor grow facilities are expanding along with it.
There has been some serious competition for the title of “biggest grow facility” in the nation. Some facilities boast space for dozens of large bloom rooms containing cannabis and hemp crops. Others include expansive labs dedicated to cannabis research. Neighborhood-sized complexes are already testing the limits of what can be accomplished with indoor agriculture. And with an increasing demand for cannabis across legalized states – whether recreational or medicinal – cannabis entrepreneurs are looking for the best ways to boost their yields and still remain cost-effective.
Even if you’re not looking to break any world records, there are several reasons cannabis growers might want to expand their indoor facilities.
Low Wholesale Cost: Because of increasing availability of cannabis in legalized states, the wholesale cost of cannabis continues to drop. This means growers might need to produce more product in order to see a profit.
Consolidation: Big companies are consolidating to create even bigger conglomerations, dwarfing smaller enterprises. Everyone is looking for new ways to produce more product while still remaining cost-effective.
Outdated Facility: Sometimes growers need to expand because their current facility is outdated or can’t support enterprise ambitions; perhaps it hasn’t kept up with changing demands or the latest technology.
Changing Industry Demands: There’s an undeniable pressure to diversify offerings nowadays – and expanding into a new market niche requires more square footage, whether this includes a medical-grade kitchen, space for industrial hemp, or rooms dedicated to high-end, boutique strains.
But facility expansion is no simple undertaking, and no two are exactly the same. Some people have the opportunity to add square footage onto an existing structure, while others add an entirely new campus to their facility. Some don’t have the means to invest in new real estate and are pushed to get more creative. Whatever your approach, though, an expansion requires thought, time, and money. When done strategically, with the right tools and under the right circumstances, adding more space can give your grow the edge it needs.
Avoid These Cracks in Your Foundation
Growers might jump into construction without devoting enough time to more practical aspects – and they’ll be sure to experience the consequences later on. Without much needed foresight, businesses run the risk of spending exorbitant amounts of money on big, impressive facilities, but lack the infrastructure to ensure long-term profitability.
Well before knocking down any walls, be aware of these common challenges that can potentially derail your expansion plans – and your future.
Lack of Funding: Money is a primary concern for anyone looking to drastically change their grow facility. An expansion is expensive, and growers should be prepared for these costs. Some make the mistake of having a “some now, some later” approach, when in reality, it can be hard to make changes once an operation is up and running.
Risking Existing Garden: Retrofitting an existing facility can be hard, especially when growing cannabis. You won’t want to risk harming your plants or exposing them to outside contaminants. Consult an industry expert to discuss potential solutions.
Resource Allocation: Cultivators know well enough that cannabis is resource intensive, and the bigger your grow, the more power and water you’ll need for a healthy crop. Before diving into the redesign, ensure you’re able to get (and pay for) enough resources to support the space.
Invest in a Strong Infrastructure
The most successful expansions are backed up by ample planning and research. It might not be the most exciting part of the process, but it’s imperative to take your time finding the most effective design and technology to support everyday facility functionality. Remember, your grow should work for your employees and your plants, for years to come. Don’t settle for the first solution either – it’s often recommended to get an informed second opinion.
These considerations can help guide your expansion.
Explore Financing: Research financing options to help pay for construction or needed equipment. Some companies offer leasing and there might be the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates.
Don’t Skimp on Essential Equipment: This can’t be stressed enough – don’t skimp on your equipment. Buying cheap tools, such as low-grade dehumidifiers, can lead to more issues and expenses later on. A bigger space requires high-performing systems to control the indoor environment.
LEDs are the Logical Choice: A significant aspect of controlling your indoor environment is finding the best lights. For commercial grows, LEDs are by and far the most suitable choice. They’re durable, deliver excellent uniformity for large crops, and improve energy efficiency. A good tip: not all LEDs are created equal. Seek out LEDs that are waterproofed, constructed with industrial-grade materials, and offer features enabling you to maintain control of your grow, such as on-board dimming and spectral tuning. They’ll last longer, and you won’t waste money on replacements in the future.
Think in Terms of Cubic, Not Square, Footage: Don’t have a lot of square footage to work with, but high ceilings? In this case, think up instead of out. With recent developments in lighting designs, you can vertically rack LED lights to create a multi-tiered garden. This is one of the easiest ways to expand your growing capabilities, without having to invest in new real estate. Still, ensure you have the right ventilation system to prevent the development of microclimates between the tiers.
A hasty expansion can result in accumulating costs and disastrous results. Too often, cannabis businesses expand without enough foresight or patience to find the most appropriate solutions for the crop and their pocketbook.
But it doesn’t always have to be like this. With careful consideration and thoughtful planning, an expansion can reveal hidden benefits and new opportunities. Start off on the right foot by researching, consulting industry experts, and finding the best equipment, and your expansion will be more likely to meet your expectations.
The bottom line: expand, but don’t sacrifice quality, safety, or your financial security in the process.
Feature image courtesy of High Mountain Health in Flagstaff, AZ