This year has seen the legalization of cannabis in five states: Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota. These new markets each bring unique growing challenges, whether they be very long, cold, grey winters or very hot and/or humid summers.
In order for cannabis growers to operate year-round in these climates, many will choose to either grow in an indoor warehouse or greenhouse. Growing indoors is the more expensive option due to the cost of lighting and thus can prevent new growers from being competitive in an increasingly saturated industry.
Growing in a greenhouse is more energy efficient, and can be just as productive as indoor growing if you choose the right kind of structure and system integrations. Growers in these new markets who choose the greenhouse route will need to consider certain technologies depending on the challenges of their local climate. The following is a state-by-state breakdown with recommendations for greenhouse technologies that should lead to a successful operation.
Montana & South Dakota
Montana and South Dakota have long winters that can be very cold, very grey, and very windy. With cheaper vented greenhouses, heating can become very expensive for year round growing. We have seen many greenhouses fail in big winter winds, only to see the crops freeze and be ruined.
Even when you add lighting, heat, and dehumidification, greenhouses not designed for year round growing can prove very difficult to maintain consistent climates throughout the year, adding stress and weakening cultivated plants.
While some places in Arizona can have cold winters, the main issue is extreme overheating in the summer months. Vented greenhouses can utilize evaporative cooling walls or high pressure fogging systems that can be very effective, lowering temperatures up to 30 degrees, a lot of water needs to be used to attain those temperatures.
In dry climates like Arizona, where water is often scarce, a wet wall can use a lot of water to keep a greenhouse environment tolerable for plants.
The biggest issue in Mississippi is trying to keep plants healthy during the summer months, when it is both hot and very humid. Because of the ambient humidity, evaporative cooling of any kind will not be effective, which means that the only cooling mechanism available is venting. If it is already hot outside, not much cooling will take place.
The second issue is humidity. When venting a greenhouse, with an air exchange every one-to-three minutes, the humidity in the greenhouse won’t be able to be controlled much compared to ambient humidity levels outside.
Solution for Any Climate
If you are growing a high value crop like cannabis, it’s in your best interest to consider a sealed facility if you live in any of these unfavorable growing climates. With a sealed greenhouse like the Ceres SunChamber, you have the capability to create a precise growing environment that’s completely independent of outside conditions.
A sealed greenhouse, coupled with a smart greenhouse controller that monitors the environment, will ensure continuous optimization of environmental conditions to support high quality and consistent end product.
A sealed facility also helps to mitigate odor and prevent harmful pests and pathogens from entering the greenhouse. This additional biosecurity that a sealed facility provides will help minimize crop loss and odor complaints from neighbors. And you’re looking to expand and build sealed facilities in other states, you can easily replicate your operation since it’s essentially the same system no matter where it’s built.
The EcoLoop is a ground coupled heat pump system that heats, cools and dehumidifies the Ceres SunChamber using the steady temperature of the earth underneath the greenhouse. The EcoLoop and all other grow systems are automated by the SunSense smart controller that continuously monitors and optimizes environmental conditions.
The system can be configured to achieve specific VPD (vapor pressure deficit) levels set by the grower in addition to monitoring light levels, CO2 levels, water usage and fertigation. It also includes bipolar ionization air purification and clean in place sanitation systems that are GMP (good manufacturing practices) compliant.
A greenhouse is a great solution to year-round growing if the right technology is utilized to maintain comfortable growing conditions -- especially in the most unfavorable climates. With a vented greenhouse, growers in especially hot or cold climates will have a more difficult time controlling the environment. With a sealed solution, complete climate control is easily achieved in any climate. With heightened climate control comes a higher quality and consistent product.
Founded in 2011, Ceres Greenhouse Solutions aims to reinvent the traditional greenhouse. We combine passive solar design principles with innovative heat-storage techniques to create the most energy-efficient and durable greenhouses for any climate in the world. The result is a smarter, ‘greener’ greenhouse design: one that regulates its own temperature, can grow year-round, withstands the harshest weather, and uses little to no fossil fuel energy.