@LBC-GREEN agreed to be the next participant in the Grow Op Deep Dive series. Here’s his grow operation setup and why he chose the equipment he uses.
By the numbers:
Grow Operation: Green Leaf Strategic Consultants
Location: Long Beach, California
Grow Operation Type: Indoor
Canopy Size in Square Footage: 10,750 Sq ft across two facilities
Awards: High Times Cannabis Cup 2015 Flower Winner: Sweet Silver Haze
What do you use for lighting?
I’ve played with a variety of different different bulbs, and we’ve settled on a combination of CMH lights for veg and double-ended HPS bulbs for flowering. The HPS lights we use are Ushio Pro Plus in concert with a Gavita EL2 controller. We incorporate some blue towards the end to help with terpenes, as the double-ended HPS bulbs don’t emit UV.
I’ve found that if you are on a tight budget there’s a multitude of different ballasts you can use. Because of power limitations at our first location, we installed a dual-zone controller. Our engineer was able to incorporate the EL2 to allow enough lights at that location. Power limitations prevented us from using the standard Intermatic.
What nutrients do you use?
Our nutrients consist of a variety of salts and a very low PPM feeding schedule. We refrain from using excessively expensive lines such as Canna A and B. More importantly, since we pride ourselves on the R&D side, we flush weekly. Using Hygrozyme’s product, we have found that maintaining the beneficial bacteria community is better than killing it, as a healthy community is the most expensive portion of any nutrient line. We did a comparative analysis on this and found that a flushing approach has led to better resin production and a lower margin of error. We believe in the concept of a handcrafted product grown with sustainable materials.
What do you use for grow media?
Rockwool. I used to work for Grodan and gained insight into their internal departments and the people there who were trained in horticulture. I find the Hugo 6x6 is designed specifically for cannabis and is the least labor intensive. You can get a good-sized plant, up to 80 inches, in a 6x6. I’d rather transplant once and not waste grow media.
What equipment do you use for water filtration and irrigation?
We use reverse osmosis (RO) with a Hydrologic Evo, using a 2 to 1 ratio. The Evo comes with a wall-mounted filter which we change once a month. We switched brands from Water Merlin 6.0 a little while back, but when you have a case of expensive filters and membranes, it can be difficult to switch brands. I’ve played with some other units and found that there’s not a need for a high flow rate as long as you store a couple days worth of water. We keep 5 days worth of water at room temperature and we make a fresh batch of nutrients every day.
We also collect water from AC units for recirculation. The AC units generate 210 gallons every day.
We love our nanobubble system. Nanobubbling is the best way to supply the root zone with oxygen and encourage root growth. The system we use was bought at MJBizCon in Vegas 2 years ago. It’s pretty rare in the US and Canada, but it saves us a huge hassle of installing tubes and airstones.
What equipment do you use for trimming?
We spend a week pre-defoliating prior to harvest. When we take the plants down, we cut the plants into sections and hang dry for 5-7 days. When the stems are dry enough to snap then we begin the hand trimming process. We hand trim everything. After that, everything goes into turkey bags.
We have tried automated trimmers in the past but find that the trichromes fall off during automated trimming. At the end of the day it comes down to this: how does your final product look? Nothing I’ve seen that comes out of a machine looks better than a hand trim. You can’t be picky about growing a plant if you are just going to throw it in what is essentially a garbage disposal.
What equipment do you use for odor control?
We use 12 inch Max-Fans - 4 in each 1700 sq ft unit. Each comes with a 72 x 2 inch flange fresh filter. For air exchange we use backdraft dampers with environmental controllers and we open up twice a day. It’s also handy in an emergency if the AC fails. We set it up so that fresh air is pulled in at set times and kicked it out at set times.
What equipment do you use for HVAC?
We use Day & Night 5-ton units. Each of them pulls 16.4 amps, which is very little electricity for their size. Having those units helped us to add more lights and still keep our heat under control. In my opinion you should have multiple units rather than one big one, as it provides redundancy and efficiency. We also have 3 ton Siemens mini splits on the wall to help with equal distribution. They put out 300-400 CFM of straight cold air at any given time.
Total control over temperatures helps us preserve terpene quality and cannabinoid potency. Anytime you go above 80F, terpenes start to break down and you can get up to a 30% reduction in cannabinoid potency. The Gavita lights kick out a lot of heat but we worked with Gavita on our floor plan to account for that.
Grow operation type
What type of grow operation did you select?
Indoors. My background is in math and science, so I like being able to have full control of my environment. I can run experiments and be certain of the outcomes. In a greenhouse or outdoors, you can’t control all of your variables.
What do you use for pest management?
My pest management strategy depends on the stage of growth. When we do decide to use sprays, we only use OMRI-listed (organic) products such as Neem oil. We use sulfur dust products as a fungicide. We even use green lacewings as predatory insects during flowering. Their larva can eat 60 aphids a minute.
We don’t use pesticides or foliar application while in flower. When you are growing for the medical side you can’t add things to flower that can affect a person’s immune system. Our goal is hand-crafted product with the user’s health in mind.
What do you use for curing?
My mindset is to have our three curing rooms be as close to a humidor as possible. The windows are sealed with 14ga metal plating so no light enters the room. Each cure room is set up with its own 3-ton minisplit. If one unit goes down then we have a replacement.
All of our trim is flash frozen to maximize yields. We use commercial grade ice cream freezers to store the frozen trim. It’s rather funny to see the polar bear mascot from Bryers ice cream on the side of the freezers that we purchased.
How do you track your data?
We keep hand-written sheets that include the PH, PPM of food, time the lights came on and went off, and how much water was irrigated to each plant. Each sheet is five weeks of data. I enter the forms into Excel and create my own charts.
We have a small facility for R&D that’s about 30 lights big. We can record the data on any strains we want to experiment on without impacting the larger production line. My main metric for experimentation is kw/h and gram of product per kw/h. Our optimized production line are achieving about 2.4lbs per light with a 15-week cycle.
Thank you Gavin for showing off your setup! If anyone would like to be the next participant in this series, please contact @Hunter.
If you have any questions for Gavin about his setup please post them below in the replies!