Large scale cannabis crop overhead view of mature plants

Large Cannabis Growers Rapidly Expanding

It’s an exciting but complicated time for the cannabis industry. Large-scale cannabis cultivators are building infrastructure rapidly in response to legalization of marijuana across Canada and in many US states. Large scale grow operations provide product for exploding demand for both recreational and medical marijuana across much of North America. Cultivators face a range of decisions as they vie for market share and build infrastructure that is both long term and flexible enough to respond to a still volatile regulatory environment.

From banking to security to removal of waste, the challenges faced by the cannabis cultivator are numerous. Most areas require strict controls on accessibility and traceability of the product, making the choice and configuration of the cultivation space a crucial one. Big operators are geared up to meet compliance requirements, and make appropriate investments in buildings, equipment and industry expertise to be able to grow and successfully deliver high quality product to a waiting market.

Outdoor or Indoor Cannabis Cultivation?

A few geographic areas, like the Northwestern US, provide a good outdoor climate for growing cannabis. High moisture, cool temperatures and long summer days to provide enough hours of sunlight mimic the cannabis plant’s natural environment in central and south Asia. It can be grown outdoors in other areas as well with some accommodation to regulate exposure to light, hot sun and cold air. Cannabis grows large and strong in the right outdoor environment, building a strong root system and producing larger plants.

But in an outdoor environment, cannabis plants are subject to pests and disease. The crop can be wiped out by a severe weather event. Extreme weather is becoming more frequent with the advance of global climate change, raising the risk of crop loss for outdoor growers.

Due to the risks and potential large financial cost of unpredictable outdoor cultivation, most growers are choosing to build secure, environmentally controlled indoor cannabis cultivation operations. Indoor cultivation provides the opportunity for a reliable grow environment that can be adjusted throughout the lifecycle of the crop, putting the cultivator rather than Mother Nature in control of crop yield and quality.

Indoor Cultivation Risks and Rewards

Fabric building housing large scale cannabis crop interior view of plants and high clearance ceiling with sunlight

Large scale, indoor cannabis cultivation in a secure, weather-proof and well ventilated building provides a number of advantages over outdoor:

  • Fewer natural pests and easier pest control
  • Protection from weather events that can damage plants and impact lifecycle and yield
  • Ability to apply optimal dark/light cycles and control humidity levels for better crop yields and higher quality product
  • Security to keep crops away from prying eyes, theft and to comply with local and state regulations
  • Easier to automate and manage inventory tracking from beginning to end of the production cycle
  • Growing soil can be carefully selected and monitored for pH levels to help flower production
  • Irrigation and water recycling are easily set up and managed in an indoor environment

Of course, indoor cultivation means that the grower must be able to re-create the natural conditions under which the cannabis plant will flourish. There are a number of challenges to meet:

  • The biggest challenge and cost to the indoor grower is lighting, as the plants require long hours of intense light daily to complete their growth cycle. Correct use of lighting is critical to each growth stage. Most growers still prefer high energy HPS lights, but the LED industry is making strides toward providing low energy lighting that produces high quality plants. Finding energy efficient lighting solutions can have a big payoff on reducing costs in the energy-intense operation.
  • The intense lighting inside the cannabis greenhouse creates excess heat and humidity, often accompanied by high levels of oxygen that must be successfully ventilated from the indoor environment.
  • Irrigation and water availability can be a challenge in some areas. Growers may want to invest in irrigation systems that recycle water for reuse or to avoid disposal fees. Rainwater capture systems can also conserve water and reduce irrigation costs.
  • The building selected for the indoor grow operation can have a large impact on overall operating costs. An energy efficient facility with features that help minimize lighting costs, support superior ventilation systems, provide ample interior space for all the necessary onsite equipment and activities, and one that is easily modified for changing needs, will help the grower be successful with indoor cannabis cultivation.

Tension Fabric Cannabis Cultivation Building

Exterior of tension fabric building housing cannabis crop in open field

There are a number of factors in selecting a building for indoor cannabis cultivation. These include sufficient open floor space for operations, good ventilation, and capacity for hosting efficient lighting and irrigation systems. The ideal structure has sturdy, impermeable walls to keep out weather and pests, and to keep the growing area secure. Ideal cannabis cultivation buildings are also efficiently sized and modular, with the capacity to add or reduce space where needed in a timely and cost-effective manner. Allsite fabric structures are carbon neutral and energy efficient, with minimal impact on the environment where installed. The lightweight aluminum alloy frame is easy to transport and has an indefinite life.

Tension fabric buildings offer the ability to locate the building anywhere that it is needed. These temporary or permanent structures come in a variety of sizes for use as a large-scale indoor greenhouse. Supported by a rust and corrosion-free, engineered, aluminum alloy frame, the building’s heavy duty PVC cover is tensioned across the frame into a sturdy, energy efficient, wind and rain resistant structure.

High ceilings and a clear span interior provide ample space for grow boxes, lighting, irrigation systems with plenty of room for supplies, work areas and equipment. The white interior walls reflect light, helping reduce overall lighting costs. HVAC and air filtration, including the capacity to host fully enclosed reverse airflow systems, are easily installed to reduce humidity, odors, oxygen levels and heat indoors.

The buildings are durable and stable, meeting wind resistance standards for regular buildings. A variety of anchoring systems are available and no building foundation is required, making these a good choice in rural or undeveloped locations.

For more information on an Allsite tension fabric cannabis cultivation building, contact Allsite today at 888-599-5112.

Author Peter Milligan

Peter Milligan is Allsite's Director of Business Development, with degree in Psychology from Lafayette College and 14 years experience in matching customers with Tension Fabric Structure solutions. Read more about Peter and the rest of our team at https://allsitestructures.com/about/

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