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The Future of Cannabis is Sungrown

Sungrown Future

The future of cannabis cultivation is bright. The long-awaited legalization of cultivating this contentious genus represents a new era of commercial Cannabis cultivation, marking the advent of one of the most significant social shifts of our generation. The gravity of specialized teams being able to legally grow Cannabis in quality-controlled environments; while extracting data, honing operations, and analyzing new cultivation strategies at the forefront of agricultural science, has not yet set in for the average Cannabis user. This plant, and it’s place in society, are on a path of radical change over the next 10 years.

Cannabis production has traditionally been undertaken largely indoors in North America. As much as 3% of the State of California’s energy usage, for instance, is attributed to indoor Cannabis production. Understandably, it is far easier to keep black market production covert in a bunker than in a glass box. The problem with indoor cultivation at a commercial scale, however, lies in two core deficiencies:

  1. The conditions of indoor operations are less than ideal for cultivating plants.
  2. The cost of indoor production is not environmentally nor economically sustainable.

At Tantalus Labs, we fight for the idea that modern Greenhouse technology is the future. We believe that Greenhouses will push commercial indoor Cannabis cultivation into obsolescence; ultimately forcing indoor and black market production into technology-driven, legitimate, Sungrown systems.

What Do Plants Need to Grow?

Plants need light, water, and nutrients. Evolving the way nature delivers these three inputs is what 10,000 years of agriculture boil down to. The ability to manipulate an environment to achieve higher productivities or more robust plant health is both a science and an art. The process of designing, testing, revising, and analyzing systems tailored to particular plants has spawned countless branches of science and engineering.

Modern greenhouse technology enables systems that hone the cultivation environment in an optimal way. For critical factors such as light penetration, humidity minimization, and environmental monitoring, there is simply no better system than a high-tech Greenhouse. We grow and evolve as a species by adapting our environment to meet the needs of our agriculture, and the plants that we nurture grow and evolve as well within the systems that we innovate.

Cannabis, for the first time in modern history, is on the cusp of a dramatic agricultural shift. We have a new opportunity to study it with the added benefit of formalized scientific research and understanding. While this is just a piece of the puzzle in terms of its normalization in our society, the most dramatic evolution will manifest in the plant itself.

What are the Advantages of a Greenhouse?

The core advantage of Greenhouse cultivation is that there is simply no better lighting environment in which to grow plants than Sunlight . Cannabis is a plant with a highly efficient photosynthetic process. It will consume as much light as is available, and convert that light into growth at 60X the speed of a Douglas Fir.

* Based on an estimate of optimal spacing of HID lamps in an environment with no natural light (i.e. warehouse etc.) Light Integral data from Fisher, P and Runkle E (eds) 2004

Humidity Minimization

Humidity is the primary enemy of the Cannabis grower looking to avoid mould and disease. Mould is a common adulterant in black market and commercial Cannabis alike, and the more humid the environment, the greater the mould risk. The way that we at Tantalus Labs accomplish humidity minimization is largely through facility design. A central galley way divides the greenhouse facility in two. The galley way functions as a space for work and logistics, but it also serves as a substantial air intake for supplying each bay of the greenhouses on either side.

Air cooled by specialized pads is pulled through the length of the greenhouse via (6) 18in HAF fans. These fans move an ocean of air, beginning above the plant canopy and eventually through it on the back end toward the rear of the greenhouse. Here is located another set of electronic dampers and two 48in exhaust fans mounted just above crop height. Each are rated at

27,000 Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) for a total of

54,000 CFM per bay. This exhaust air is then dumped into an odor filtration bay, scrubbed, and exhausted into the atmosphere.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) only systems function differently, and CFM is much lower. In a top of the line HVAC environment, the range of 15-1800 CFM would be likely. Compare this to Tantalus’ 54,000 CFM. HVAC necessitates a system of supply and return air ducts to feed Air Conditioning units and fans, moving the cooled air around.

Environmental Control

Modern Greenhouses enable the tightest degree of environmental control in agriculture. Systems monitor and record data on a range of granular environmental parameters, from temperature and humidity all the way to soil pH and CO2 levels. These sensors signal mechanical changes when parameters fall outside of optimal ranges. For instance, if the Greenhouse gets too hot, the system will automatically vent through cooling pads, keeping the cultivation environment at the ideal temperature to allow plants to thrive.

Data Gathering

The same sensors that trigger environmental adjustments in Greenhouse record data. This data helps growers better understand the relationships between the environment and trends in productivity, plant health, and potency. Tantalus Labs uses this data in predictive models, helping us refine our practices and learn more about what our plants need to thrive.

Tantalus Labs exists to advance the frontier of cannabis. We designed and built the first facility of its kind on Earth – a completely environmentally controlled greenhouse, engineered specifically for cannabis. We call it SunLab¹.

Does Sungrown Cannabis Create a Superior Product?

Plants need light, water, and nutrients to grow, all things naturally available outdoors, that now thanks to modern technology, can be recreated indoors as well. While we have the ability to engineer the effects of the sun, does that create a better product? Many say no for a variety of reasons.

In this article, we will explore what it means to create sungrown cannabis, cultivated under natural light, versus the massive electrical and structural undertaking associated with producing cannabis indoors.

What is Full-Term Sungrown Cannabis?

Full-term sungrown cannabis farmers use the sun instead of high-powered synthetic lights to grow their plants, creating a product under natural full-spectrum light. Cultivating cannabis in an outdoor environment is the most cost-efficient method for growers with the least impact on the earth. Without the necessity for tents or lighting systems, cannabis farmers can keep their overhead low—a significant advantage during the startup phase of any farm.

Here are some of the pros that explain why many operators choose to grow outdoors.

Low Carbon Footprint at Lower Costs

Sungrown cannabis uses elements from the natural environment to fuel its growth, saving farmers’ from using artificial, high-intensity lighting and ventilation systems. By requiring fewer resources, the production process is less expensive than plants grown indoors.

Ecology & Resiliency

Having cannabis crops outside as part of the natural ecosystem, the plants interact with elements that build flexibility and strength against complications like temperature fluctuations or pests. Resilient plants are less susceptible to the invasion of mold, mildew, and predators in general. However, it is worth noting that an indoor grow environment offers more options to tightly control pests and temperature, a factor that some farmers find leads them to cultivate their plants inside.

Complements the Natural Life Cycle

Since the beginning of time, plants that undergo photosynthesis flourish under the rays of the sun. Scientists from King’s College in London report that cannabinoid and terpene production is greatest in ambient light. That is partly because the spectrum of natural light is much more complex than what can be recreated by even the best indoor grow lights. Outdoor cannabis absorbs a full spectrum of light from the sun (and even a little from the moon and stars). The time spent in darkness as it changes from summer to fall also tells the plants when harvest time approaches. Sungrown cannabis flowers naturally when the days become shorter, with most outdoor cannabis harvested between late August to October. Outdoor cultivation also enables natural airflow and ventilation without the use of electric fans.

What is ‘Light Dep’ Sungrown Cannabis?

There is a second type of sungrown cannabis using light deprivation techniques, known as “light dep,” where plants grow in greenhouses with supplemental lighting. The benefit of light dep cannabis is that the grow operation happens in a controlled environment under tents or greenhouses fed by a combination of artificial and natural sunlight, encouraging plants to produce their full profiles in a faster timeframe.

Plants gather energy from the sun for 12 hours per day, then intentionally block out the sun with tarps to create 12 hours of darkness, encouraging plants to flower faster than they would naturally. By speeding up this process, an operation can harvest multiple times per year. Rather than one big harvest, some growers find it advantageous to harvest smaller amounts of light-dep cannabis throughout the season.

Light dep is touted as the best of both the outdoor and indoor growing worlds, producing terpene-heavy plants on an accelerated timeline with the ability to control interference from pests and temperature fluctuations.

Sungrown vs. Artificial Lighting

Most crops throughout the world are grown solely outdoors: grapes to make wine, barley to make beer, oranges to make juice. Up until the last few decades, cannabis was exclusively grown outside as well. Production was mainly taken indoors in North America due to the unlawfulness of cannabis possession. This forced farmers to find ways to replicate the sun’s many spectrums undercover. That ability to recreate a natural environment to achieve a similar (or sometimes more robust) plant is both a science and an art.

However, the conditions of indoor grow operations are less than ideal for cultivating plants long term, and the cost of indoor production is not environmentally nor economically sustainable. The light bulbs, fans, dehumidifiers, and electricity needed to grow cannabis indoors year-round leaves behind a huge carbon footprint. As the cannabis industry grows, sustainability is increasingly vital to eco-conscious customers and often a top differentiator between brands.

Some consumers like sungrown cannabis because it is the most natural and environmentally friendly version of the plant with more robust cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Others like the year-round availability and consistency of indoor-grown cannabis. Ultimately, the decision comes down to your individual preference.

In this article, we will explore what it means to create sungrown cannabis, cultivated under natural light, versus the massive electrical…