A Quick Guide to Growing Cannabis VerticallyJuly 1, 2022
When you think about any crop farming operation, you likely picture field upon field of vibrant crops grown in the ground and workers tending to each row. While some cannabis growing operations are likely established like this, many manufacturers and growers are now showing interest in vertical growing setups.
This can sometimes involve high startup costs, but it can be an exceptionally rewarding industry in many ways. If the time has come to explore your growing options, this vertical growing guide might make you consider vertical cannabis farms as a valid business prospect.
What is a Vertical Cannabis Farm?
A vertical grow system or cannabis farm describes a growth operation that spans upward rather than outward. Cannabis farmers purchase cannabis grow racks and lighting systems and position the racks around a central light source to grow more plants in a smaller cultivation space. These systems are generally set up inside large industrial buildings rather than out in fields, where temperatures, lighting, and security can all be meticulously controlled.
Vertical Growing Options
When you’re weighing up your options with a vertical growing operation, there are two possible layouts to consider: stacked and true.
The stacked vertical method consists of stacked square or hexagonal shelves with a central light source. This allows growers to utilize all available space between the floor and roof, which is typically not possible with a traditional horizontal growing system.
These layouts also allow growers to deliver water and nutrients to the soil-based or hydroponic plants faster and with less wastage. However, those using this type of system must keep their plants short.
The more experienced growers might like to consider a true vertical layout, which looks like horizontal farms stacked on top of each other. These systems have plants growing in the sides of the columns with water and nutrients drip-fed from top to bottom.
Why Consider Growing Cannabis Vertically?
Deciding to transform your current growing setup can be a significant decision to make, but there are plenty of reasons why commercial growers are showing interest in vertical cannabis farms.
A simple change in layout with vertical planting might be all it takes to enjoy reduced energy consumption. LED lights positioned centrally over your plants might mean you use fewer lights while still ensuring all your plants receive as much light as they need.
Less Space Required
Owning and leasing land can be expensive, especially when you factor in the costs of purchasing or leasing it along with maintenance and harvesting expenses. When you build your farm upward as opposed to outward, you have fewer space requirements.
You’re able to make use of previously unusable space, and there’s no need to purchase or lease land. Instead, you simply need to buy or lease a suitable building and develop your operation within a much smaller space.
There are many outdoor growing operations throughout the United States, especially in areas where the climate is just right, such as Washington, Northern California, Maine, and Oregon. However, vertical farms can ensure that growers outside of those areas don’t have to miss out on the same growing opportunities.
When you grow plants inside, you have complete control over how much water and nutrients they receive and can also control the temperature. As a result, you have a much smaller risk of weather-related crop failure compared to growers who rely on the outside elements.
Easy Installation Process
When vertical farming practices were not commonplace, innovative farmers had to develop their own growing racks and systems. However, the industry has come a long way. If you’re interested in being a vertical grower, you can now purchase pre-built systems and growing racks that are ready to install.
Straightforward Expansion Option
The cannabis industry is growing, and dispensaries are opening their doors across the United States, hoping to align with quality growers to provide their customers with what they want. If you’re struggling to keep up with demand with traditional horizontal farming practices, vertical farms offer a fast and easy way to expand.
You can quickly increase your yield and possibly even enjoy an extra crop cycle compared to traditional farming methods. Before long, you might be well on your way to producing more cannabis to meet demand than you originally anticipated.
How to Start a Vertical Farm
You might understand the many benefits associated with vertical farming, but that doesn’t mean you’ll know how to get started. Sometimes, it can be as straightforward as following the steps below.
Step 1: Purchase Grow Racks
Grow racks are a central component of any vertical farm, so they should be one of your first considerations. Fortunately, there are many highly-regarded grow rack manufacturers that can help you create the best vertical farming setup.
Step 2: Buy An LED Lighting System
LED lighting is efficient, long-lasting, and versatile for a range of cannabis-growing operations. It also burns cooler, which likely reduces the risk of light burn to your plants. There are many different LED lighting systems on the market, so look for one that specifically says it’s suitable for vertical growing.
Step 3: Purchase Your Crops
It’s important to know that cannabis crops must grow shorter in a vertical setup than they would in a horizontal one. Some varieties grow taller than others, so consider purchasing Indica strains as opposed to Sativas, which might create spatial issues as they enter different growth stages.
Step 4: Establish Your Setup
Before your new operation gets underway, take the time to make sure you have a well-set-up growing area that will serve you well for many growing cycles to come. Factor in where the water will drip down onto your plants, where you’ll place your new growing racks, and the positioning of your lighting to ensure all plants benefit.
You might also see the value in installing floor drains to dispose of nutrient water left over from the plants, pumps to move the water, and holding tanks to store it. If you’re unsure how to set up the perfect vertical growing operation, consider bringing in the experts during the planning stage to avoid any problems you might not have expected.
Growing cannabis vertically can take time and effort, but it can also result in higher yields and potentially more profit while requiring less space. If you haven’t yet looked into the advantages of this growing method, now might be the right time to consider it.