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Grower Environmental Challenges

By Zac Ricciardi

No matter where a grower decides to set up an operation they will face challenges; some unique to specific environmental situations, some universal. 

Warehouses, greenhouses and outdoor gardens each have advantages and disadvantages, as well as common issues that occur in every environment. Knowing the pros and cons of each environment allows you to choose the best set up for your business. While many approaches are similar, some will need to be tailored to a specific operation.

Indoor & Warehouse Grows

Indoor and warehouse grows can produce the best product possible;

the control of variables is second to none in a properly dialed indoor grow. 

The issues most indoor growers will face will be related to the seasons. Ask any large scale indoor grower and they will tell you that what’s going on outside of the grow directly affects the indoor grow. 

“Bug Season” is typically in the spring and the summer when insects hatch and populations are at their highest. 

Pests find their way in through open doors, on clothing, on infected plant tissue, and more. The list goes on. But knowing when insect season peaks and what insects you typically deal with will allow you to have an educated approach towards current issues. Applying a regular rotation of AzaGuard®, BioCeres WP, and other approved insecticides will help you control any outbreak scenarios. 

The flip side to “bug season” is “mold season,” occurring in the fall and winter, when we have warm days followed by COLD nights. 

This climate creates the perfect storm for pathogens like powdery mildew to take hold. Applying ZeroTol® 2.0 with OxiPhos® can allow a grower to stay ahead of any potential outbreaks before they occur. Again, the pathogen spread is going to be very similar to that of pests. If you take extra precautions on the front end, you will see the benefits in the grow as the crop matures.

Preventative applications are always preferred to curative; keep yearly logs that allow you to time applications accordingly and come out on top. 

Greenhouse Grows

Growing in a greenhouse is the hybrid approach of indoors and outdoors. 

You can get many of the benefits of growing outside without ALL of the drawbacks. Just like indoor cultivation, greenhouse growing is subject to the seasons, but is MORE susceptible to outbreaks than the latter style. Having open vents to the outside world will increase the likelihood of issues exponentially. 

You will have outbreaks occur in a greenhouse; having a plan for when you do will allow you to be successful despite any setbacks. 

The mold and bug seasons are very similar to indoor cultivation facilities. Having a proper IPM schedule is paramount to pulling a successful crop in a greenhouse. Many growers will also employ a biological insect approach in these scenarios. 

The main advantage to growing in a greenhouse is natural sunlight. 

Not only will the ultraviolet (UV) light help inhibit certain things from forming, but you will have that full spectrum that only the sun can provide. Dialing in a greenhouse is going to be more work than a warehouse but the economic advantages for extraction and edibles are evident.

Outdoor Grows

Finally, the oldest way to grow cannabis: outdoors. 

While this method can be the most economically viable for new growers, it is important to understand the advantages and drawbacks to this method. You will have zero control over the weather and season; outdoor growers are really rolling the dice that they will be able to crop out before the first frosts. 

You are at the mercy of mother nature in terms of pests, pathogens and seasons. 

Pest and pathogen issues run rampant outdoors and can get real bad, real fast. You will also have to adjust your feeds and transplants according to the season; extra shady days mean less fertilizer and harder pruning. 

All year long is either bug or mold season in an outdoor grow. 

With that said, outdoor does have some unique advantages: 

  1. Natural predators are present, not just pests. You will have some level of natural pest control from mother nature that just doesn’t exist in controlled environments. 
  2. Natural sunlight. You can’t beat that spectrum or intensity with anything artificial. 
  3. You can also grow very large plants outdoors, allowing a grower to crop out once a year with a HUGE harvest instead of multiple smaller ones throughout the year.

Being able to improvise, adapt and overcome will allow you to be successful no matter what your setup looks like.

While there is no one-size-fits-all for everyone, many growers are utilizing multiple environments for perpetual harvesting throughout the year. Always have a plan A, B, and C for any scenarios and you will be successful despite any adversity presented.

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