While Many Cannabis Cultivation Consultants Shy Away From Greenhouses, We Don’t


gLeaf Medical Cannabis Cultivation Facility in Frederick MD

Indoor Cannabis Cultivation: Consider These Factors as You Weigh the Pros and Cons of Greenhouse Growing vs. Warehouse Facilities

Since Next Big Crop’s formation in 2013, our Managing Director, Rich Cardinal, has designed over a million square feet of production facilities, been intimately involved in the construction of many of those facilities and has managed/operated a number of them as well. He’s well-versed in the operational needs of all types of cannabis cultivation.

The biggest decision that a prospective cultivator has to make is whether to grow in a warehouse space or a greenhouse facility. The main reasons many operations leaders lean toward greenhouse grows is production cost savings on electricity, as well as cheaper facility build-out and operational costs.

Warehouse grows demand 12-18 hours of artificial light production a day; greenhouses cut down on that considerably. What you are giving up is some tangible control — Mother Nature is not predictable, and a greenhouse requires more finesse. However, that doesn’t mean quality goes down — there is an abundance of technology that helps maintain control by modifying the air that comes in: heating it up, cooling it down, and making adjustments to humidity.

Whether you grow in a greenhouse or a warehouse, you have daily targets for the amount of light for plants to be exposed to daily for achieving optimum yield and potency. This is known as the DLI, or Daily Light Integral. In a greenhouse, you are using assimilation lighting, accumulating light over the course of the day. If sunshine alone is not enough to meet the target,  whether that’s because of the number of hours of daylight at each time of year, or the number of clouds in the sky that day, growers must supplement accordingly with a few hours of artificial light.

But it’s not all about electricity bills. Our managing director Rich has helped design and manage massive warehouse spaces, but he says: “I honestly think natural sunlight is better than LED. You can’t really mimic the sun — there are spectrums and radiation factors, what the plant likes to take up. And there’s a certain intangible quality to plants grown under sunlight.”

One other factor to take into account is a quality-of-life standard for your cultivation team, who, like plants, may perform better in natural light than in a warehouse all day.

At Next Big Crop, our goal is to train your employees to be able to understand and work with the “greenhouse nuance” by the end of our management contract with you. In states that have only recently legalized, our expertise can be especially valuable, as these states have not yet built up a pool of management and cultivation talent.

Learn more about Next Big Crop’s consulting services and see more photos of our greenhouse and warehouse designs.