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Principles of Effective Indoor Cultivation Facility Design

Principles of Effective Indoor Cultivation Facility Design

Indoor cannabis cultivation offers several advantages that can give businesses significant control over the quality of their products. Trying to grow plants indoors, however, can also present several challenges that require creative problem-solving to overcome. Luckily, you are not the first person to think about indoor cultivation facility design, so you can build on the work of those who came before you.

Maximize Space to Increase Revenue and Lower Overhead

When you grow cannabis or other plants outdoors, you have a single light source that forces you to think about using a horizontal pattern. For example, you use rows when you plant crops in a field. By putting your plants in rows, you help ensure they all get adequate exposure to sunlight.

Indoor cultivation facility design doesn’t force you to think in horizontal terms. In fact, you can make the space considerably more efficient by thinking about your layout on horizontal and vertical levels.

When you maximize the space of your indoor grow operation, you can place racks several feet above each other. Depending on the type of cannabis strains you grow, you can expect them to reach anywhere from 4 to 7 feet tall. Arrange your racks like bookshelves with enough room in between for your plants. Suddenly, a 1,000-square-foot grow room with 15-foot-high walls gives you at least 2,000 square feet of space to grow your plants.

The taller your ceilings are, the more shelves and lights you can add.

Keep this in mind when you visit warehouse spaces that you might buy or lease. The floor’s size matters, but the room’s height matters just as much. The taller your room gets, the more plants you can grow.

You will, of course, need to install LED lights above each rack of plants. The light panels essentially act as artificial suns that your plants turn into energy to grow. Having more lights means spending more money on equipment and electricity. If the cost of your equipment and utilities is lower than the price of a “larger” warehouse space, then it makes sense for you to maximize the smaller area. By doing so, you increase your revenue and lower your overhead.

Are you still trying to determine how much warehouse space you need for your indoor cultivation facility? It probably makes more sense for you to lease a warehouse or industrial space so you can avoid the financial commitment of buying real estate.

Browse more than 100 warehouse and industrial spaces for lease on 420 Property to find options that look promising to you.

Grow Your Cannabis Plants in Multiple, Isolated Rooms

Ideally, growing cannabis indoors can help you avoid pests and diseases. When you have more control over your growing environment, you can keep out pests, viruses, and bacteria that damage crops.

Anyone who has spent enough time growing cannabis, however, has a horror story about an entire crop getting wiped out within days. Indoor cultivation might keep out most pests, but it also keeps out most beneficial insects. When something harmful finds its way into your grow op, it can destroy dozens or hundreds of plants before you have an opportunity to intervene.

You don’t have to risk all of your plants just because you decide to grow indoors. Instead, get grow room blueprints that include several isolated areas. Don’t just put up a partial barrier that lets you identify the different strains you grow throughout your warehouse. You want floor-to-ceiling separation that prevents viruses and pests from reaching your plants.

If something terrible happens to one room of cannabis, the isolation barriers will prevent the problem from spreading to other rooms. You might lose 100 plants, but you could save 1,000.

You can make your indoor cultivation facility design even more effective by requiring all employees to sanitize their equipment and change their clothes before working in the next room. If your gloves pick up cucumber mosaic virus while working in the Blue Dream room, changing your outerwear and gloves will prevent the virus from spreading to the Northern Lights room.

Do you need an experienced professional to build isolated grow rooms for your cultivation business? Explore listings on 420 Property to find a contractor who can improve the health of your grow op. Building isolated rooms is often an affordable way to save your business from financial ruin.

Design Your Cultivation Facility for Limited Contact

Disease prevention is so important that it deserves a separate — although slightly different — section. A virus can enter your facility through any number of ways. You might buy a diseased plant, your substrate might contain a virus, etc. More often than not, though, the virus gets spread by the people working in your cultivation facility.

Establishing strict guidelines for cleanliness will certainly help reduce the risk of disease. You can go a giant step further, though, by limiting access to your plants.

Honestly, your employees don’t need frequent access to your plants. The plants need light, water, and nutrients. They don’t need workers wandering through the rows, sniffing the wonderful aromas, and enjoying the stickiness of the buds. Yes, everyone wants to experience these joyous plants, but every physical interaction creates another opportunity for spreading sickness.

Adding windows to your walls is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to lower interactions between people and plants. You don’t even necessarily need glass windows. Sealed plastic can do the job perfectly well.

By adding windows to your walls, you create a way for employees to “check in” on plants without risking exposure to viruses. No one needs to enter the room to inspect leaves and flowers. Just look through the window to see how the plants are doing.

You can go as simple or extravagant as you want when designing rooms that limit contact between plants and workers. If you want to invest in an innovative design you believe will work better than standard windows, you can contact the architects listed on 420 Property. They should have the skills to draw blueprints that show precisely where windows, doors, viewing portals, and other features go.

Consider a High-Density Cultivation System to Increase Yield in Small Spaces

At this point, you might be thinking about the large warehouse space you leased or purchased. Hmm. It seems like you’ll need to divide that big space into several smaller rooms. In the process, you might need to rethink your whole approach to how you cultivate cannabis plants.

If you discover that building walls to separate grow rooms from each other leaves you with cramped spaces, consider adopting a high-density cultivation system.

This problem sounds very high-tech. Honestly, some of the systems are. You can find high-density systems that come with automated lighting and irrigation. You don’t need to tend your crops. The computer does it for you. You are 100% correct when you assume that these systems cost a lot of money!

You don’t have to opt for the latest, most expensive cultivation system, however. The simplest approach doesn’t cost much at all. You just need stable shelves that move along a rail. You may have seen shelves like these in libraries before. You walk into a room with a dozen bookshelves placed against each other. Before you can access the book you want, you need to move some of the shelves out of the way. Most of today’s models have motors that let you move shelves by pressing a button. If you want to go old school, though, you can still find systems that use hand cranks.

What matters most is that you get a way to consolidate your plants into the smallest space possible. Think about it this way: You only need space between rows when you want to walk down them and inspect your plants. The plants don’t need that much distance between rows. They will sit next to each other happily (assuming that you follow cleanliness protocols that prevent disease).

With a high-density system, you eliminate nearly all of the space between your rows. You practically double your production space!

Designate Areas for Each Life Stage of Your Plants

The cannabis plant’s needs differ throughout its life. Giving your plants what they want should improve their health, lead to higher yields, and increase the quality of your flowers. And let’s be frank. Everyone wants beautiful flowers. The more attractive your flowers are, the more retail stores will spend on them.

You need to create at least four separate areas for the life stages of your cannabis plants.

Stage One: The Germination Room

Cannabis seeds usually need between three and 10 days to germinate. During that time, you should give them 16 hours of light followed by eight hours of darkness. Too much or too little light exposure can slow their growth. You might think it makes sense to keep the lights on 24 hours a day to encourage rapid germination. Nearly every master grower will tell you not to do this. Imagine how well you would perform without any rest for several days in a row!

Stage Two: The Seedling Room

Once your seeds sprout and you see a couple of small leaves at the top, you can move them to the seedling room. After moving them to the seedling room, transplant the cannabis plants to individual pots. Over the next two to three weeks, they will grow more leaves and increase in size. At some point, you will look at your plants and recognize the well-known leaf pattern of cannabis.

You keep the light cycle to 16 hours on and eight hours off in the seedling room. These are growing babies. They need plenty of energy.

At this stage, give your plants a minimum amount of water. They have very shallow roots. Giving them too much water could damage or even kill your plants. Just keep the soil moist and trust your plants to do their jobs.

Stage Three: The Vegetative Room

Once you have what is obviously a cannabis plant, you want to move it to the vegetative room, where each plant has more space to grow. Move your plants into larger containers so their roots can deepen. At this point in the life cycle, they need macronutrients and micronutrients almost as much as they need light. You’ll probably need to add nitrogen to the soil to keep your plants fertilized.

Speaking of light, you want to provide 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness during this stage for your indoor grow operation. Anyone growing cannabis outdoors would want to get at least six hours of direct sunlight and as much indirect light as possible.

Your plants will grow rapidly during this stage. As they get larger, begin training and topping the plants. You want to encourage outward growth. Tall plants might look impressive, but they don’t usually produce as many flowers as plants that are kept on the shorter end.

Your plants will stay in the vegetative room for three to 16 weeks. It really just depends on the plant’s genetics and the growing environment.

At this point, you also want to double-check the sex of your plants. You don’t want any male plants near your female plants. Keeping them separate will encourage the female plants to grow larger, stickier flowers in an attempt to capture pollen from the male plants. Separating the plants will also prevent annoying seeds from growing in your buds. No one wants to discover seeds in top-shelf cannabis. That can ruin your brand’s reputation and make your team look like a bunch of amateurs.

Stage Four: The Flowering Room

As soon as you notice your maturing plants start to form little buds, move them to the flowering room. Your flowers will probably reach their full potential within nine weeks, although some strains take up to 11 weeks. Expect sativa varieties to grow slower than indica and hybrid varieties.

Finally, you get to cut back on the amount of light your plants get. Your marijuana plants should receive 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness to maximize flower production.

During this phase, you can trim some of the extraneous leaves from your plants. You want as much energy as possible to go to the flowers. Any energy devoted to continued plant growth will just reduce the potency and size of your nugs.

Stage Five: The Drying (Curing) Room

When your flowers finish growing, they will have a sticky coating on them. They should also have a pungent aroma. These are good signs of excellent cannabis!

Before you package and send them to your distributor, you need to dry the flowers (some people call it “curing” — the words mean the same thing).

Remove all the leaves from your plants and hang the stems upside down so that the flowers droop toward the ground. Do not throw away the leaves! They’re far less valuable than your flowers, but they still contain beneficial chemical compounds, including THC and CBD. If you own an extraction system, you can use it to remove compounds from your leftover plant matter. If you don’t, sell the plant matter to an extraction company. There’s no reason to let the leaves go to waste.

You can expect your flowers to dry for about two weeks. Some people claim that they get the best results by curing their buds for months. Perhaps they get slightly better results from their methods, but it’s not a cost-effective way to run an indoor cultivation facility. You need to sell your flowers as soon as they’re ready. Then, you can use the revenue to start the process over again with a fresh crop of cannabis.

Are you interested in adding an extraction system to your indoor cultivation facility design? You can find plenty of systems for sale on 420 Property. Companies also sell lab equipment that you might find useful when marketing your products to distributors and retailers.

Make Your Workflow as Efficient as Possible

Efficiency drives success in practically every industry these days. If you can’t produce quality items quickly, your competitors will edge you out. The cannabis industry might be full of friendly people willing to offer advice, but they’re also experienced entrepreneurs who recognize opportunities when they spot them.

Making your workflow as efficient as possible will lower your overhead by reducing the number of staff members you need and how many hours those people work each day. A good flow will also reduce confusion and encourage people to focus on each task.

Some labor efficiencies are pretty obvious. For example, you know that you will move your seedlings from your germination room to the seedling room. Why not position those rooms next to each other? Don’t unthinkingly put them at opposite ends of the building. That will force your team members to move fragile plants over a longer distance than necessary. It will increase your overhead and increase the risk of damaging plants.

Investing in automated systems can also improve efficiency and lower your labor costs. Automated irrigation systems don’t cost nearly as much as they did a decade ago. Many of them even include sensors that can provide the perfect amount of water for each plant. A human cannot water cannabis that accurately.

If you want a simpler system that costs less money, opt for drip lines that connect to all the plants in a room. That way, you only need to turn on the water, let the drip lines do their job, and turn off the water to avoid soaking the plants.

Another benefit of streamlining workflows through automation? You may already see this coming — reduced risk of disease. When you have someone going from plant to plant with a watering can or hose, you run the risk of spreading disease from one plant to hundreds of plants. An automated system or drip line system will not eliminate the risk, but it lowers the risk significantly.

Use 420 Property to Find Real Estate for Your Indoor Cultivation Facility Design

Many cannabis growers find that effective indoor cultivation facility design supercharges their business success. Making a few changes can have huge effects on your product quality, yield, and efficiency.

If you already have a facility design in mind, start browsing warehouse spaces for lease and warehouse spaces for sale on 420 Property. Otherwise, reach out to architects and designers who can help you create an indoor setup that helps your cannabis company thrive.

Find your next 420 property today!

July 19, 2021Comments Off
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