Smart Cannabis and Next Generation Farming Founder, President and CEO John Taylor had tried just about every nutrient product over the years. Yet, when it came to growing cannabis, one company’s product suite consistently produced far greater results: Dyna-Gro®.
After seeing the success, Smart Cannabis/Next Generation Farming partnered with the nutrient solutions company in 2018 with a promise to use and test Dyna-Gro products in its own research greenhouses in conjunction with Next Generation Farming’s SMART App, which allows growers to operate and monitor their smart greenhouse and add Dyna-Gro products remotely. The agriculture technologies and services company even goes a step further by selling and recommending Dyna-Gro full nutritional solutions, such as Foliage-Pro® and Bloom™, as well as its supplemental nutrient formulas, Pro-TeKt® and Mag-Pro® to all its cannabis cultivation clients. “Knowing we’re advising our cannabis growing clients to use the very best nutritional [products], in conjunction with knowing that the Dyna-Gro team is excellent to work with, is a win-win for us,” Taylor says.
There is always risk associated with closely tying your brand to another: If one screws up, it reflects poorly on both. That was never a concern for Taylor and Smart Cannabis, as he explains: “Associating with top-quality products and services is a minimum standard for our overall operations. Including Dyna-Gro nutrients is a natural fit because we only want to affiliate with the best. Knowing [Dyna-Gro is] fastidious when it comes to quality and consistency assures us that they are the best solution for our clients’ current needs.”
If proof is needed, Taylor says, “We’ve never heard a complaint about Dyna-Gro nutrients. In fact, responses have always only been positive.” According to Taylor, use of Dyna-Gro nutrients, especially when used with the SMART App, have increased cannabis yields (and therefore profits) for his clients. “The combination of technology and science-backed nutritional [solutions] produced by Dyna-Gro results in an automatic win for our clients,” he says. But “even without our tools, yields increase. It isn’t just an increase in yields that we’ve experienced, but also an improvement in the quality of crop yields,” which has also, in turn, led to an increase in potency and quality of the company’s extraction products.
Services Offered: Subsidiaries include Next Generation Farming (NGF) and Sap Investments. NGF sells and installs a variety of greenhouses and equipment, as well as sells the SMART App, which allows for remote crop management. Sap Investments is an end-to-end service that aids in land procurement, securing permits and licenses, and management of crops from seed to sale.
Mission Statement: To deliver expert solutions for cultivators seeking to generating maximum returns from their cannabis crops.
Sometimes, though, the best way to increase profits is simply to pinch your pennies. Dyna-Gro’s nutrient solutions help Taylor with that also. “Our own data shows that Dyna-Gro nutrients consistently produce better yields," adding that Dyna-Gro's program is "a more natural cultivation method and saves money,” he says.
Outside of producing highly effective nutritional solutions, Taylor lauds Dyna-Gro for its highly personal customer service approach. “The entire team at Dyna-Gro encourages feedback, is open to ideas, offers feedback constructively and is motivated to be helpful and productive. This never waivers. Dyna-Gro is immediately responsive and always helpful,” the CEO says.
For more than 35 years, Dyna-Gro, touted as The Nutrition Solution®, has been a perennial leader, providing growers with complete, easy-to-use, cost-effective, liquid nutrient concentrates. Its formulas, which contain the 17 essential macro and micro mineral elements plants require for optimal growth, has made the company “one of the most respected names in organic nutrients for horticulture, agriculture and cannabis production,” Taylor says.
Commercial Grow Supply’s California cultivation operation has significantly boosted its production by implementing Nanolux’s lighting technology.
Transitioning from single-ended lighting fixtures to double-ended technology can increase yield in an indoor cannabis cultivation facility by about 50 percent, according to Sevan Derohanian, owner/operator of Commercial Grow Supply.
Since converting to Nanolux DE double-ended technology in all its flower rooms in 2015, the company, which operates its cultivation business out of Sun Valley, Calif., as LAHC Collective Inc., has effectively doubled its yields, Derohanian says.
The vertically integrated cannabis operation is headquartered in Clarita, Calif., and Commercial Grow Supply also offers consulting services and operates a hydroponics store. The company replaced the single-ended technology in its grow with Nanolux’s 1,000-watt double- ended fixtures and increased production from 1.5-2 pounds per fixture to 3-3.5 pounds per fixture, he says.
“Coming into the double-ended technology with Nanolux, they provided us with a superb fixture [and] amazing design, … [and] the fixture gives us a much better spread, much more uniformity throughout the crop itself,” Derohanian says.
The double-ended fixtures are also smaller and cost less to replace on an annual basis to remain in optimal condition, he adds. “Where we sit today, our ballast stays the same, our reflector and our bulb changes annually, we are as optimal as optimal gets throughout the years, and for the minuscule cost of $100 annually versus $130 just for bulbs [with single-ended fixtures].”
As Commercial Grow Supply adds an additional 44,000 square feet of indoor cultivation space to its current 28,000 square feet of canopy, Nanolux’s technology has helped decrease its initial investment due to these decreased costs, Derohanian says. More importantly, he adds, are the increased yields and, therefore, increased profits.
Cultivation Space: 28,000 sq. ft. of active indoor cultivation space with 44,000 additional sq. ft. under development
Products/Services Offered: Cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and retail sales, as well as hydroponic equipment sales and consulting services
“We’re taking the same floor space, same layout, same square footage, and doubling the yield within that same canopy space,” he says.
In its vegetative space, Commercial Grow Supply has implemented Nanolux’s 630-watt ceramic metal halide (CMH) fixtures, which have produced a similar increase in growth, Derohanian says. It has also led to a 37-percent decrease in utility consumption, he adds, as less wattage gives off less heat, which means the company uses less HVAC to maintain the room’s temperature.
“So, in all of our new builds, we’ve saved a significant … amount of initial investment when it comes down to our air conditioning needs and our overall annual electrical consumption,” Derohanian says.
Commercial Grow Supply also uses Nanolux’s lighting controller technology, which allows growers to place a chip in each fixture to control the lighting cycle via Bluetooth or WiFi.
“They have actually improved it significantly by giving the ability [to use] an online app [and] wireless technology, [so there’s] no more running wires in between each fixture, which we would call ‘daisy chaining,’” Derohanian says.
Commercial Grow Supply passes its Nanolux success story on to its clients at its hydroponic garden supply store, he adds.
“I’m happy my cultivation facilities are doing grand, but I’m able to pass that technology over to our clients, which in turn, brings us success through our hydroponic space, as well,” Derohanian says. “We envision our clients are doubling their yields [and] decreasing their monthly overhead, and that’s due to Nanolux.”
How one self-proclaimed ‘soil geek’ and commercial grower is using PittMoss to improve plant characteristics and cannabinoid/terpene content.
When Buzz Pinkham’s wife found relief in cannabis during her battle with breast cancer, Pinkham applied his 40 years of horticulture experience to growing medical marijuana and immediately liked the results of using PittMoss soil mixes.
Pinkham, who holds a degree in plant and soil science from the University of Maine, discovered PittMoss’ products at an industry trade show, and was drawn to the sustainability of using recycled paper in growing media. He also suspected the living soil mixes would allow cannabis plants to better express their cannabinoid and terpene profiles as compared to artificial mixes.
Pinkham operates Pinkhams Plantation Garden and Landscape Center, 12,000 square feet of greenhouse growing space in Damariscotta, Maine. The company grows about 1,000 square feet of cannabis outdoors, as well as 1,400 square feet indoors. Pinkham began incorporating PittMoss growing media into 25 percent to 50 percent of his soil mix, and saw it helped with water management.
“It’s hydrophilic [water-loving] instead of hydrophobic, like many of your peat mixes,” he says. “So, watering is such a joy. You put water on it, and it just soaks it up like a sponge.”
With peat-based mixes, the Smart Pots in Pinkham’s outdoor grow would quickly dry out, he says. “With PittMoss, with the initial watering, it seemed that it held a lot more water, yet it maintained aeration, which allowed great root development. So, it seemed to be a great match for the pots in that it just didn’t dry out as fast.”
Pinkham also uses different PittMoss blends in his greenhouse space, as well as his indoor cannabis grow.
Products/Services Offered: Ornamental bedding plants and cannabis (through the state’s caregiver program)
“It seems to have a lot of benefits, and I’m just trying to find how to apply it to my situation,” he says. “Everybody grows differently ... but for somebody looking to tweak their mix, I think the water benefits are great.”
If a plant does begin to wilt, Pinkham adds, PittMoss seems to reduce the permanent wilting point. If he puts water on a wilting plant growing in PittMoss soil, it bounces back, whereas it may not recover with other mixes.
Although PittMoss products may be more expensive than some other soil mixes, their benefits continue to pay dividends throughout the growing cycle through improved water management, rooting and overall performance, Pinkham says. Lab testing on the company’s plants have also shown fuller cannabinoid and terpene profiles, he adds.
“It allows biology to take place in the soil, to a great extent, to allow those things to happen,” Pinkham says.
And while his background in plant and soil science has always left him wanting more out of his growing medium, Pinkham has finally found effective soil mixes in PittMoss.
“I think being a soil geek or knowing about soil is almost a detriment because I’m never really satisfied. I’m always looking to cope with what I have,” he says. “I’ve found PittMoss, and that’s been exciting using it and seeing what it can do.”
Jack Tatum's decision to outfit his hemp-based extraction endeavor in North Carolina with Precision Extraction technology has him looking optimistically toward a profitable future.
Isolera Extracts is set to finalize its build-out by late February, and CEO Jack Tatum is extremely pleased with the progress thus far. He found a welcoming home for his company in North Carolina’s supportive hemp industry, where the team at Precision Extraction Solutions has been helping him get his extraction business off the ground. Tatum secured a former Burlington manufacturing facility in Oxford, N.C., and upon completing build-out of the 187,000-square-foot space, Isolera is set to take the CBD isolate world by storm.
After working in the cannabis space for the past decade, Isolera is Tatum’s first hemp-centric endeavor. Precision has helped get him up and running—and the timing couldn’t be more fortuitous with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and its hemp legalization provisions.
Much of the domestic hemp industry is split off into either fiber or cannabinoid extraction. Isolera’s function deals with the latter.
“Looking at the extraction space, we had made a conscious decision that we wanted to go with the most professional of outfits,” Tatum says. “We made a great decision, the relationship with Precision has been phenomenal from the get-go. They really allowed me the opportunity to focus on the business side of things while leaving the technology to the pros.”
The initial business side of it meant taking a good look at how Precision’s hydrocarbon and ethanol extraction equipment will fit in with broader market supply and demand curves. With Precision’s equipment, Tatum says his company can initially process about 3,000 pounds of hemp biomass every eight hours.
“It’s perfectly designed for what we’re doing, including quick scaling of operations,” he says.
Within six months, he hopes to ramp up to about 10,000 pounds per day. Tatum says the Precision team has gone to great lengths to work their equipment into site development plans at the Isolera facility. From meeting with the local fire department and code officers to offering expert perspectives on SOPs, Precision’s team plans on using Isolera’s experience as a model for other businesses going forward.
“Having dealt in this space for some period of time, I was really impressed with how important and key they were in the initial process,” Tatum says. “And they were all-hands-on-deck from start to finish. They're still hand-in-hand with us right now.”
Tatum’s experience is a testament to the demands of transitioning from cannabis to hemp in a rapidly evolving U.S. marketplace.
“When we saw the size and scope of this, I realized that this was going to be a major undertaking—not only from an economic perspective but also to be done correctly. Precision has in-house engineering, as well as site-development experience, so they really got on board early with us, including meeting with the municipalities … and even local farmers. Precision got everybody comfortable with what we were trying to do and then ultimately designed the facility. The build-out is almost finished, as far as the construction aspect is concerned, and my experience with Precision has been a real pleasure.”
Next up: Precision will be working to train the team at Isolera in conjunction with the regional governmental agency NCWorks and the nearby Research Triangle.
A broader goal is to see how Isolera’s large-scale extraction work will open up possibilities for new cannabinoids and more in-depth research in North Carolina and on the federal level. “We're excited about working hand-in-hand with not only world-class, finished products, but also the development of potentially new products that we haven't seen up to this point in time.”
High Country Genetics’ decision to use Smart Pots’ aeration-promoting container product has allowed the California company to grow bigger cannabis plants with healthy root systems.
In 2007, Dustin Fraser was filling out paperwork at the California Department of Agriculture to acquire a producer's certificate for his small farm, and he found an ad for Oklahoma City-based Smart Pots’ commercial tree bag. Smart Pots had been promoting the product since 1980, but the wording of the ad struck him, as it described an innovative approach to growing healthy plants.
Fraser, who lives in Mendocino County in northern California, went on to form High Country Genetics, and the Smart Pots have been an important part of his cultivation plans ever since he stumbled on that ad.
Smart Pots had been promoting a bag that reduced heat buildup and aerated the root zone, allowing plants to develop large, healthy root masses.
“I thought that was a pretty nice concept,” Fraser said. “I had grown in all different types of plastic containers, … different grow bags, I’d used every type of grow container there was—multiple styles of growing—but I’d never seen an aeration container before.” He began working with the product in hydroponic, greenhouse and outdoor settings, and he found that his yields were increasing when he used the Smart Pots—which are BPA-free and lead-free. “It’s a great way to cultivate. It’s an American-made product that lasts a long time.”
The gist of the Smart Pot system is that it circumvents the costs of ball-and-burlap cultivation while actively pruning a plant’s root structure and allowing it the room it needs to become a healthier cannabis plant. After being developed first at The Tree Farm in Oklahoma, the product line has gone on to be sold around the world.
“One of the biggest changes Smart Pots did was they helped change the way people cultivated,” Fraser said. “They gave people an affordable, easy way for medical patients to cultivate very large plants on restricted plant count numbers. They allowed the mom-and-pop gardener who can legally grow only six plants apiece in their yard ... to grow monster plants that could produce upwards of 10 pounds per plant. They gave the small gardener the ability to produce a huge yield.”
And the product fits into grows of all sizes: At The Tree Farm, Smart Pots’ tree bags support larger crops. At High Country Genetics, Fraser said that the bags have been invaluable for how he’s worked in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry.
Fraser, who’s also expanding his business into Oklahoma’s new medical marijuana market, adds, “They set a new standard in garden set-up, and I attribute to them the changing techniques throughout Mendocino and Humboldt County. It allowed far more people to garden with a smaller amount of space or with less-desirable terrain—especially if they have poor soil or they’re on a mountainside. They allowed that … gardener to really get a good root mass on the plant and grow a large plant.”
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Back in 1980, the product was a simple solution to an ongoing problem for growers in many horticulture industries. And today, that solution remains the same.
Cannabis Business Times’ interactive legislative map is another tool to help cultivators quickly navigate state cannabis laws and find news relevant to their markets. View More
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