MEDICINAL CANNABIS CULTIVATION & PRODUCTION
02 - Vegetation
Medicinal Cannabis Vegetation stage
As the second stage of the 12 stage medicinal cannabis production process, the vegetative stage is when the cannabis plants grow quickly, adding stems and leaves (but no buds) each day.
What are the optimum conditions to promote growth?
The transition of the plants from the nurturing relatively low light, high humidity environment of the propagation rooms into the high intensity grow house needs to be managed carefully. There is considerable risk of shocking the young plants, causing them to collapse.
The growth control systems must be designed to manage the size and shape of the plants. During the vegetative stage the plants are trimmed and shaped to achieve optimum flower production. The lower leaves are removed to allow air flow, reducing the risk of diseases and setting up the flowering scaffolding.
Minimising operational costs
The cost of electricity for heating, cooling and lighting of a grow house are significant costs. Traditional grow houses typically rack up electricity costs of approximately $33 per square metre per month and is highly dependant on location, strain and lighting source. For traditional lighting approximately 600 W of energy is required per square metre to provide the lighting required for growth. The excess heat generated by the lighting must be removed to maintain the optimum temperature. If the facility is located in a high humidity area, de-humidification adds to the costs.
Best practice selection and design of building management systems can significantly reduce electricity costs on an ongoing basis. This will have a big impact on your ability to compete on the world market if you are considering exporting your final product. With Australia having considerably higher wage and electricity costs that Canada or the US, it is critical to design a facility that minimizes both costs if Australian-grown medicinal cannabis is to be competitive.
In Australia, the growing of cannabis plants is regulated by the Australian Office of Drug Control. You must hold a licence from them to cultivate and produce cannabis (they control the plant during it’s lifecycle). Once the plant has been harvested and moves into manufacturing of the final medicinal product there is an overlap with Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). This part of the manufacturing process must comply with the current Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines. These rules are designed to ensure the safety and efficacy of all pharmaceutical drugs sold in Australia. The rules cover everything from facility design through production processes to the packaging, labelling, storage and transport of the final drug product.
At the design stage of a cannabis facility the following must be considered for the grow house:
- The staged transition of the young plants into the grow house, to minimise shock
- Optimising lighting, humidity, temperature, CO2 levels and fertilisers to achieve optimum growth whilst minimising power and input costs
- Minimising the movement of staff between plants – consider automated systems to bring the plants to the workers
- Controlling dust during repotting of plants. In an indoor environment, dust settles on leaves. Without the rain that normally cleans leaves, the leaf stoma are blocked, stunting plant growth.
Services PharmOut offers
PharmOut can design a complete turn-key solution, or help with the design of only specific areas of your cannabis facility.
PharmOut employs two world leading cannabis master cultivators: Andrew Exner and Matthew Hayes, both of whom have decades of international experience. They can advise on the cultivators to select and the optimum growing process to achieve the highest yield, both in quality and volume.