Hemp is largely a field crop when grown for oil or fiber, but those who wish to turn out high-quality, smokable hemp flower will find producing in a greenhouse environment ideal.
Still, growing in a greenhouse can present some challenges with this complex crop. Growers used to producing cannabis in a warehouse environment may struggle in the greenhouse at first, and vice versa.
It’s the difference between plant support, which the greenhouse offers, versus full environmental control, which warehouse grows and vertical farming offer.
Eric Brandstad knows this all too well, having spent the last 27 years as a grower, consultant, and educator (Brandstad teaches classes at Oaksterdam Academy in Oakland, CA) in the legal cannabis space. His consulting firm, Greenhouse Advisory Group, was recently named one of Cannabis Business Executive’s Top Ancillary Businesses in the space.
Brandstad focuses much of his consulting work on helping operations find efficiencies that contribute directly to bottom-line revenue generation.
“I’m a big believer in working smarter, not harder,” he says. “We want to set up the greenhouse in the most efficient way possible, because in hemp you don’t know the final price of the biomass (when you plant), sometimes even at harvest you still don’t know (the price you’ll get) yet.”
Start Simple, and Build Up
Across his nearly three decades consulting on greenhouse cannabis and hemp grows, Brandstad has witnessed an assortment of common mistakes that new growers often make, which he feels can be easily avoided. First, he advises growers start with the basics and get experience in that regard before sinking a ton of money into the biggest, most teched-up greenhouse money can buy.
“I find myself talking more growers off the ledge and into a smaller, more economical greenhouse than what they otherwise would have started with, and it saves them a lot of headaches,” Brandstat says. “Most people just getting started end up spending way more money than they need to. You can learn a lot from a small hoop house and just doing it on a basic level to start out.”
Brandstat advises greenhouses be designed for flexibility and with seasonal changes in mind. As such, ensuring adequate airflow and venting are two design aspects hemp growers need to focus on when setting up the greenhouse. Dr. Allison Justice is another nationally recognized hemp farming expert, having taken over her family’s three-generation growing operation in South Carolina.
Published: May 08, 2020