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This week, Jim Strain, director of cultivation and master grower at Dycar Pharmaceuticals, joins the Cannabis Equipment News podcast to share his wisdom curated over more than 30 years using aeroponics to grow cannabis. He tells us why you take care of the roots, so they'll take care of the fruits.
Strain became a grower at 19, transitioning through various regulatory environments. Coming from the black market into a heavily bureaucratic system in Canada was difficult. Some days, it seems like the gray/black market can get the job done more efficiently. Strain jokes that it's surprising how many people it takes to sell a bag of grass these days.
Strain is a rarity in the industry who has seen a lot over the years. About four years ago, a friend invited Strain on a private trip to Jamaica with other industry types looking at a potential investment opportunity. On the plane, he met a member of Dycar Pharmaceuticals' board of directors. It was serendipitous. Dycar was building an aeroponics facility, and Strain considered himself an aficionado after growing with aeroponics for decades. Strain wasn't looking for a job, but he offered to take a look at the system. After pointing out some glaring deficiencies, Dycar courted Strain and eventually brought him on board, along with a large genetic bank with 200 unique strains the master grower accumulated over the years.
Strain has been growing using aeroponics since 1989. In the ancient times of the late 80s, with no internet, he built a drip hydroponic system through trial and error. Strain has never liked growing in mediums. Throughout his career, he's used them all but always comes back to aeroponics. Initially, it was the logistical challenge that swayed him. After all, bringing dirt into a house was suspicious — and then it had to be hauled out after harvest. No medium, no problem.
Strain is operating in a new era now, but the cost and logistics savings remain as operators can bypass bringing in truckloads of medium and shipping them off to the landfill after every harvest.
Dycar has been operating in Cranbrook, British Columbia, since January 2022. The company produces a mix of edibles, vapes and flower. The flower carries the J.R. Strain brand, named after the company's master grower. Dycar manufactures all products on-site and made the strategic choice not to white label anything.
Dycar uses a robust aeroponics system made by AEssenceGrows, a Santa Clara, CA-based manufacturer of commercial grow systems.
On this episode of the Cannabis Equipment News podcast, Strain gives Editor-in-Chief David Mantey a tour of his aeroponic system and facility. They also discuss:
- How Strain mixes old school methods with the latest science
- How he helped build a state-of-the-art grow facility
- The equipment he can't live without and
- How he learned to read plants as a self-described combination of plant whisperer and nerdy tech grower.
Please make sure to like, subscribe and share the podcast. You could also help us out by giving the podcast a positive review. Finally, to email the podcast or suggest a potential guest, you can reach David Mantey at David @cannabisequipmentnews.com.