Drip-To-Dray Cannabis Grow Trays

Harvesting & Drying Checklist: 10 Things to Know

Harvesting & Drying Checklist: 10 Things to Know

Drip-To-Dray Cannabis Grow Trays

Work Smarter, Not Harder!

In a vertical, multi-tier farm, efficient and effective harvesting and drying practices are essential for maximizing productivity and maintaining the quality of cannabis crops. This blog post will explore some best practices that can be implemented to optimize these processes and ensure successful outcomes in a vertical farming environment.

1. Prune Excessive Foliage

During the last week of the flowering stage, remove the majority of fan leaves and excess foliage while leaving the bud sites undisturbed. By doing this before harvest day, you minimize labor tasks and make the process more manageable. Additionally, it promotes better airflow and a more consistent moisture removal rate throughout the drying room.

2. Pre-Harvest Preparations

One harvest method many growers have found useful is to dim the lights and cease irrigation events approximately 24-36 hours prior to cutting the plants down. By leveraging transpiration during this period, growers can jumpstart the drying process and reduce the load on the HVAC system in the dry room during the initial stages of drying. This method also reduces the overall wet weight of the harvest, including the plant and its substrate, resulting in cost savings and a faster harvest process (i.e. less physical weight for your staff to move from the upper tiers).

3. Minimizing Touches & Transfers

Every touch and transfer increases the risk of product damage, degradation, and contamination. Minimizing unnecessary handling and movement of plants is essential. Aim to complete the harvest and transfer of a single crop into a designated drying room within a day to maximize efficiency and preserve product quality.

4. Utilize Modular Dry Carts

Invest in modular dry carts that facilitate the transfer of plants from the flowering area to the dry room. These carts simplify the movement process, minimize plant damage, and maintain organization within the facility.

5. Choosing the Right Load-In Strategy

Evaluate the benefits of both single load-in and continual load-in strategies. While a single load-in approach (one harvest batch into a single drying room) provides better control over the drying environment and consistency, continual load-in strategies (multiple harvest batches into the same drying room) can support continuous production. A single load-in approach is preferable but choose the strategy that aligns best with your facility’s goals and available resources.

6. Whole Plant vs. Hook n’ Hang

Regardless of the drying method chosen—whole plant or “hook-and-hang”—maintaining consistent plant spacing is vital for even drying. Initially, the drying space may appear crowded, but as moisture content decreases, sufficient spacing is created, allowing for efficient drying and airflow. Whole plant hanging is the preferred method by most growers as it tends to result in a higher quality product, reduced labor tasks on harvest day, and simplifies track-and-trace compliance duties.

7. Maintaining a Controlled Drying Environment

Invest in a properly sized HVAC system with sufficient latent load sizing to remove moisture effectively. The drying rate is influenced by factors such as the total wet weight of the harvest, room temperature, dehumidification capacity, airflow, and time. Increase room temperatures slightly (HVAC systems and dehumidifiers remove more moisture at higher temperatures) if the drying rate is too slow but be cautious to avoid excessive heat that may lead to terpene loss. To preserve product integrity, keep the dry room door closed and lights off as much as possible. Minimize unnecessary entries into the room, allowing for a consistent and undisturbed drying environment.

8. Moisture Content & Water Activity

Tracking moisture content (MC%) and water activity (Aw) levels is a great way to standardize your drying process, reduce your risk of product loss, and maximize your revenue. In the early stages of the drying process, the goal is to get your crop’s water activity below 0.65 to reduce the risk of pathogen proliferation and product loss. Use these readings to fine-tune and optimize your HVAC setpoints, either increasing or decreasing your drying rate by modulating temperature.

9. Achieving the Desired Moisture Content

Target a moisture content between 10-14% for optimal product quality and smoking experience. This range ensures proper drying while preserving terpene profiles and cannabinoid potency. It is a delicate balance; higher moisture contents increase the total sellable weight of your harvest while slightly lower moisture contents increase the total cannabinoid potency on your lab results (less water weight per gram).

10. Minimize the Mess

Harvesting and drying cannabis can be a messy process, but taking certain precautions can help minimize the mess and maintain cleanliness within your cultivation facility. For example, when the drying process is complete, it is best to “buck” or remove buds from stems directly in the dry room. By doing so, you confine the mess to a room that is already in need of cleaning, rather than creating a mess in another clean area of the facility. This approach simplifies cleanup and reduces the risk of cross-contamination between different cultivation spaces. Educate your staff on the importance of maintaining cleanliness during the drying process. Provide training on proper handling techniques, emphasizing the need to work carefully and avoid unnecessary spills or messes. Encourage team members to clean up any spills promptly and maintain a tidy workspace throughout the drying process.

Anders Peterson

About Anders Peterson

Anders is a Cannabis Operations Specialist at Pipp and helps integrate mobile vertical racks and VAS airflow systems into facility designs. He is a leader in indoor CEA facility design and operation, with an academic background in cell and molecular biology and over 10 years of cannabis industry experience.

At 21 years old, Anders co-founded his first legal Prop 215 cannabis company, which manufactured solventless concentrates. He was also one of the first wholesalers of hash rosin in the California medical market and co-founded one of the first medical cannabis dispensaries in Arkansas.

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Miss It-Multi-Tier Design Webinar

Multi-Tier Grow Room Design: Measure Once, Build Twice Webinar with Cannabis Business Times

Multi-Tier Grow Room Design: Measure Once, Build Twice Webinar with Cannabis Business Times

Pipp Horticulture at Culta in Maryland

Designing a Successful Multi-tier Grow Room 

Designing a successful multi-tier indoor cannabis grow room requires careful planning and execution to ensure optimal plant growth and yield. Whether you are a seasoned grower or a beginner, there are several key factors to consider when designing your indoor grow space. Michael Williamson, Director of Cultivation, Anders Peterson, Cannabis Operations Specialist, and Del Rockwell, Product Manager, recently presented a webinar with Cannabis Business Times sharing helpful insights and best practices for designing a successful multi-tier indoor cannabis grow room. During this webinar, the team provided key insights into critical design criteria for consideration before you design and operate an indoor multi-tier cannabis cultivation facility. Topics included pre-design considerations, specifics on each growing system, and starting up your space for the first time.


“Each day of a cannabis life indoors is more than 1% of its total life span. So, every single hour of every single day has an impact. Compare that to a human’s life span, where every day in our lives is less than 0.4% of our life span.”

– Anders Peterson

1. Pre-Design Considerations

During the pre-design phase for your multi-tier indoor cannabis grow room, you’ll want to build a team of experts. When assembling your design team, you’ll want to consider the site selection, space planning, workflow, vendor selection, a comprehensive bid analysis, and how state and local regulations and budget impact your overall design. 


Architecture & Engineering Teams, A&E:

It’s critical to select someone or a firm with a proven track record in multi-tiered cannabis cultivation, facility design, and engineering. Several architects and engineers have served the industry well for over ten years and learned many common pitfalls to avoid. As Michael explains, “What looks good on paper does not always translate well operationally and can lead to bottlenecks, poor workflow, increased labor, and operational expenses.”


Cannabis Consultant

One team member that is critical in the design process is a cannabis consultant. A cannabis consultant assists with equipment selection, helps provide inputs for financial modeling, describes workflows and SOPs, and answers general strategy questions for owners while also serving as the owner’s representative to help answer questions for the A&E team. 


Selecting Vendors

Vendors are a valuable source of information when designing your grow room. Anders explains, “Vendors get to see hundreds of facilities, and many share great insights.” Anders mentions when preparing for an indoor vertical farm, “Choose a group of equipment vendors to work with that have experienced working together on projects, so you can feel confident that all the systems will integrate without custom construction or engineering.” Racking providers like Pipp Horticulture is often the first vendor you engage during the design process because benching layouts dictate the sizing of many systems down the road, such as your lighting, plant count, and even your HVAC capacity. Anders states, “It’s beneficial to establish your racking layout early on in the process and feel confident about it, just to limit the number of revisions and change orders down the road.”


Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing – MEP 

Your MEP team is your core engineering team. Civil, structural, and environmental engineers may also be involved in your project. In a cannabis grow room design, MEP plays a vital role in ensuring the proper functioning of various equipment and systems required to cultivate cannabis plants.


Comprehensive Bid Analysis

Another important pre-design consideration is to complete a comprehensive bid analysis. A comprehensive bid analysis evaluates and compares bids from different vendors or contractors for a project or service on a “apples-to-apples” basis. A bid analysis aims to select the vendor or contractor that offers the best value for money based on the project’s requirements and budget.

2. Site Evaluation & Budget

Site Evaluation

You may not think it, but there is “an order to things when building a new grow facility, and ideally, you have assembled your design team and engaged some vendors before selecting a building site,” Anders states. Leveraging the experience of your design team and vendors during a site evaluation can help avoid costly building upgrades or delays on your project. 

When choosing a location, always check what utilities you have on-site and, if you have to upgrade them, how long it will take and what it will cost. Anders explains, “More often than not, you’re going to have to run additional power to these facilities, sometimes gas. Most commercial buildings today don’t have the infrastructure that indoor growers need. It’s good to locate a building close to a dense urban area with an established and stable grid.” 

Another consideration for your site is that the roofs of most commercial buildings do not support the heavy HVAC systems required for indoor cultivation. You will want to ensure “plenty of room to mount the equipment on-grade (on the ground) around the building while still leaving space for parking and access for delivery vehicles and such.” 

The climate in the specific area that you are considering for your future grow facility can even impact the performance of your equipment and the operation of rooms. Often nuanced considerations such as these should be considered, which is why assembling a solid team of professionals is valuable.

Key Functional and Physical Considerations

There are specific areas when evaluating a building that you will want to consider when assessing a particular site:

1. Floor Conditions

Del explains that the floor condition is one of the most significant considerations you will want to consider when evaluating a building for multi-tier rooms. Builders will install the multi-level mobile racking systems on the floor, “you need to make sure that the foundation is good and level for this application and equipment.” Avoid cracks and poor-quality slabs.

2. Column Spacing

Column spacing can significantly influence the racking layout and room utilization. “Generally, 40-foot spans between columns is fairly normal, basically as big of a span as you can get and still have the structural integrity to support all the HVAC systems,” Del explains when describing the space between columns.

3. Ceiling Height

Considering the ceiling height and how “vertical” you want to go is something to remember during the site selection process. Not considering the ceiling height can “eliminate some cultivation tiers when looking at going multi-level.” You want to ensure you have the space to grow as tall and high as you want in your grow facility.

4. Location of Facility – Fire Code

Before starting your build, you must understand your area’s fire code. For example, firewalls and room sizes can play into fire code compliance. Contact your local fire marshall for local information or contact other local cultivars to see their experience from a fire code standpoint. The NFPA National Fire Protection Agency has been working on NFPA 420 Codes & Standards, specifically for cannabis cultivation. Del suggests, “Anybody looking at building a facility in the near future to get on the NFPA website and try to sign up for updates.”

 Budget 

Before endeavoring upon the buildout of any indoor grow facility, ensure you have raised the appropriate amount of capital to avoid cutting corners in your design that can impact your business’s performance. Often project costs add up quicker than expected, and tough sacrifices to your design must be made, which can limit a facility’s yield potential and productivity. As Michael would say, this is “Building a Bugatti on a Toyota budget.”

Having a realistic idea of how much you want to spend and staying within that budget will help immensely. Michael states, “Any delays on getting to first harvest have significant and dramatic impacts in the millions of dollars.” Working with a cannabis consultant or an accounting firm can help with financial modeling before designing your building.

3. Facility Planning

Now that you have identified your design team, secured a location, and have a general sense of the rules of engagement, it’s time to plan your grow facility’s macro and micro details. The first step in the space planning process is to create a list of all rooms in the building and put together a narrative about what procedure will be happening in each room. This list will help your architects and engineers understand your goals, the infrastructure requirements for each room, and the feasibility of your design. 

“A strong facility design will typically go through multiple revisions,” Michael states. In contrast, “an efficient design team can develop full construction documents in 90 days or less, assuming that you can answer all their questions and provide them with all the information they need.”


Best Practices for Laying Out Live Plant Rooms Efficiently/Operations Plan

Most cannabis genetics today take, on average, nine weeks to complete the flowering phase. Due to this pre-determined genetic clock of cannabis, “it’s beneficial to have the number of your flower rooms be in multiples of three,” Anders states. Ideally, for example, you have about nine flower rooms, each with a nine-week cycle. In this case, your staff does the same weekly tasks, including a harvest, once a week. This order and timing helps keep your process orderly and smooth. This way, “you can efficiently rotate the veg plants from your veg room into your flower rooms without creating a bottleneck.”

Common Workflows

When planning your facility, you’re trying to create a flow, which Michael calls the “Path of the Plant.” You’re designing around the natural flow or path of the plant. In a cannabis facility, this path typically starts at the mother room, potentially with tissue culture, then to the veg room, flower room, and drying room.

Michael shares, “In a perfect world, if you have a rectangle building, you’re laying out your rooms in a linear line.” A linear layout line helps provide biosecurity strategies with a positive pressurization cascade from clean to dirty spaces. Also, consider the workflow through the facility and how many steps an employee must take to complete their job duties. Michael says, “Every step matters, and every step has a dollar amount associated with it.”

Best Practices When Planning for the Mobility of Racking Systems

A level, or flat, floor is ideal. This fundamental key will ensure the system can continue running and performing as expected. Drainage design is next. We highly recommend using an in-ground trench that is parallel to the track. There are two significant advantages, the ability to accommodate mobility and, ultimately, giving you more cultivation and vertical space for your plants to grow. Electrical and irrigation drops are the next piece to pay attention to where it is most of the time. The most common spot for this is at the front of the system for easy accessibility. 

Next, you will want to keep an eye out for any kind of interference points that would require last-minute adjustments – for example, Del mentions, “low drop ceiling, plumbing coming down inside the walls, columns, or electrical panels can create some interference points that require last minute adjustments on-site during the installation process.” Multiple options are available to access the multi-tiers: Step Stools, Folding or Rolling ladders, Man Lifts, or the best option – ELEVATE® Platform System, built for our Pipp racks and is a safe, flexible, and efficient way to access those upper tiers.

4. Design Recommendations for Each Growth Phase

Mother Room

It is best to have separate rooms for your mother, clone, and veg plants to provide optimum growing conditions while reducing cross-contamination. If you must run a combined mixed-use nursery, Anders states, “We often see these being three tiers with the bottom tier taller to house mother plants and the top two tiers shorter to hold veg plants.” For dedicated mother rooms, we have seen growers shifting away from single-tier, six months to a-year-old mother plants to double stacking smaller to medium mother plants with a shorter lifespan. The smaller, shorter lifespan mother approach provides more supple cuttings than woody cuttings from old moms and reduces the risk of pest and pathogen accumulation.  

Michael explains his process of double stacking mother plants, “generally, I’ll keep my younger mothers on the top elevation, and that elevation will be a shorter elevation, the bottom elevation, which will be a taller elevation so that I can hold my more mature mothers.” He explains that having younger mother plants in your cycle is nice to have fewer issues. Michael can get a significant increase in better “A-grade” cuttings versus the older mother plants. With the older plants, you would need to get cuttings from the inside or the outside where lighting levels aren’t the same. Mother rooms can vary in size depending on how many genetics the grower wants to have available to rotate through production. Double-stacked mother rooms help house additional genetics in a smaller space, allowing you to allocate square footage for flower production.

 

Clone Room

Clone Rooms are relatively straightforward, with most growers opting to propagate clones on triple-tier wire mesh shelving carts. This “clone cart” design allows growers to fit a lot of clones in a small space. Depending on your cloning SOP and tray inserts, you can fit between three to six hundred clones on one cart.  If you do not have a dedicated clone room, Anders prefers to “house the clone carts on the side of the veg-room rather than in the mother room.” This allows you to enter the mother room less frequently and protect your valuable genetics from unnecessary risk.

 

Veg Room

Veg rooms are the most common rooms growing multi-tier, where we have seen growers getting most comfortable growing vertically. Anders mentions, “ In the early days of legalization, we understood less about indoor cultivation facility design than we do today. Often, veg rooms were undersized for a facility, creating a significant bottleneck and leaving flower rooms unpopulated for longer than needed.” The natural solution is to take advantage of the cubic footage of your commercial building and grow vertically. “Common best practice now when sizing your total veg canopy for a facility is to allocate between 20% to 30% of your total flowering canopy footprint for veg space.”

 

Flower Room

“A well-designed and engineered facility can produce, in some cases, up to two to three the amount of yield than of a poorly designed facility of the same size,” Michael states. Pipp has installed more than 2,500 vertically stacked grow rooms over the past six years, and some of the best insights and things we’ve learned are on the design of a vertically stacked flower room. Two-tiered flower rooms are more common than three-tiered flower rooms. However, three-tiers are getting increasingly popular due to the fixed cost absorption of producing more products per square foot. Two versus three tiers also really depend on the constraints of your building, your ceiling height, license type, and how much flowering canopy you need for your business plan.

For labor and harvesting efficiency and climate control reasons, we found that a good sweet spot for the overall size of a flower room is between 2,000-3,000 canopy square feet, regardless of that being two or three tiers. We recommend row lengths of 32-40′ or shorter for good airflow within the room. The longer the rows, the more likely microclimates are to form. Tip: “When it comes to operating a multi-tier flower room, transitioning the plants to flower and timing the stretch is everything. Before moving the plant from the veg room to the flower room, it is best to set the climate to VPD to match the VPD conditions in your veg room to limit the stress.” – Anders Peterson.

Pipp recognized early on that proper airflow is one of the most significant limiting factors to success within a multi-tier grow room. To prevent or reduce microclimates within the space and create a consistent environment, in-rack airflow systems are necessary. Del mentions, “The goal is the have the same environment throughout the room. Whether it’s the first tier or the fourth tier, we’re trying to make it as consistent as possible.”

Vertical Air Solutions, VAS, was developed to be a low-profile in-rack air circulation system that seamlessly integrates with the lighting and the racking to ensure that it is a smaller form factor and takes up as little space as possible. Anders mentions, “Often the most limiting factor to producing quality and good yields of a multi-tier flower room is an improperly designed mechanical system.” What we find to be successful is supplying the air in the front main aisle, letting the in-rack airflow fans capture the dehumidified, conditioned air, and pushing it down the length of the rows. Ideally, these rows are less than 32 to 40 feet to limit air travel distance. And then, the air is returned to the back wall at multiple elevations and completely recirculates along this path. Michael states, “Your in-rack air circulation is only as good as the HVAC system design.”

 

Drying/Curing Room

For many, the design and operation of a drying room can be challenging and, if not done correctly, can result in a significant bottleneck and degradation of product quality. It balances science, traditional methods, and “respect for the plant.” From a design standpoint, you typically see an undersized drying room and undersized HVAC and dehumidification capacities. Cultivators can grow a beautiful final product that is high quality, yet in a matter of days, it starts degrading from an underperforming dry/cure process. 

There are a wide variety of options and solutions for each grower’s unique approach to drying. Our mobile carts help assist with room-to-room mobility; transferring the plants onto a cart and then into the dry room is a significant advantage. Something to keep in mind when using our dry carts is paying attention to door heights. Choosing door heights and widths that can accommodate the movement of all equipment throughout your facility to avoid issues during startup and operation is essential. 

Tip: “As a best practice, we encourage cultivators to have minimal downtime between harvests—ideally, a next-day room reset. We define a next-day room reset as harvesting all the plants in one day or shift in that flowering room or zone, cleaning and sanitizing that room ideally the same day or the very first thing the next morning. Then you are resetting and repopulating that flower room the day after harvest. Each day that you are not flowering has significant ramifications on potential revenue loss.” – Michael Williamson.

We also provide complete mobile units in a variety of options. Light-duty rivet units are a robust and solid solution but a bit lighter than some bulk racks. Bulk racks for the dry room come with the ability to use the ELEVATE® Platform System, having access to the higher levels. Different options include hang bars, flat wire grids, or cantilever finger bars. The cantilever finger bars provide flexibility and easy access for hanging plants in the dry room. 

 

Why You Would Choose One Process Versus Another

Some growers prefer to hang the entire plant; others like to break a plant down into individual branches at harvest. Anders mentions, “It’s best to size a dry room to fit a whole harvest from a single flower room at a time.” Most growers today prefer the single load-in strategy of one flower room into one right-sized dry room. Another best practice for a dry room is installing a timer for your overhead lights to help limit photo-oxidation of your product during drying. Install an auto closer on all doors in your dry room to keep the doors shut as often as possible to prevent uneven drying and loss of capacity from your HVAC system. “In summary, each plant stage, including harvesting and the strategies you deploy, can either have a beneficial or non-beneficial impact on the quality of your final product. Tuning your mindset to consider and evaluate not just what you do to plants, but why and how it positively or negatively impacts the end user is the ultimate goal.” – Michael Williamson.

In Conclusion

Designing a successful multi-tier indoor cannabis grow room requires careful consideration of several vital factors. With proper planning and execution, you can create a highly productive and efficient indoor grow room that yields high-quality cannabis. Reach out to the Pipp team with any questions regarding indoor vertical farming. You never know; you might be able to fit more into the existing space you already have. Now that you are prepared to design your multi-tier indoor grow facility, join us for our next webinar, where we will discuss best practices for the day-to-day operation of these facilities and share valuable tricks of the trade.

Watch the Webinar!

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Build the Ultimate Grow Room

Room Generator : Design Your Space!

Room Generator : Design Your Space!

Trulieve

Is a Vertical Farm in Your Future?

We are excited to announce our NEW Room Generator Tool! 

Pipp’s new Room Generator is a game-changer for the horticulture industry, allowing cultivators to see their indoor vertical farm in 3-D! The new technology offers a highly interactive experience that gives growers an in-depth understanding of the benefits of going vertical with Pipp Horticulture’s Mobile Vertical Racking Solutions.

With the Room Generator, cultivators can customize their indoor vertical farm by simply inputting the room dimensions, selecting the equipment specifications such as lights, airflow, and tray type, and entering grow information.

They can also adjust the size of their farm and experiment with different configurations to find the perfect setup for their needs. The room generator allows you to build up to 10 rooms and provides a detailed ROI report!

Want to Give It a Try?

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Drying Racks: The Secret to High-Quality, Potent Cannabis

Drying Racks: The Secret To High-Quality, Potent Cannabis

Drying Racks: The Secret To High-Quality, Potent Cannabis

Drying Racks: The Secret To High-Quality, Potent Cannabis

The Importance of Using Drying Racks

As a cannabis grower, maintaining the quality and potency of your cannabis product is essential to success. Many factors can affect the final product, including humidity level, temperature, and airflow.


One overlooked aspect of the process is the use of drying racks. Below, we will explore the importance of drying racks in maintaining the quality and potency of your cannabis crop and how Pipp Horticulture is leading the way in providing growers with the best drying racks and carts.

Why Proper Drying and Curing Is Important

When growing high-quality cannabis, proper drying and curing are essential steps that you cannot overlook. Drying and curing are the final stages of the cultivation process and can significantly impact the final product’s overall quality and potency. Proper drying and curing are crucial for a few reasons:

Preservation of Potency:

Drying and curing cannabis flowers preserves the potency of the cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, which are responsible for the desired effects of cannabis.

Improved Flavor and Aroma:

Properly dried and cured cannabis has a better flavor and aroma due to the release of terpenes, which are responsible for the unique scent and taste of different strains.

Increased Shelf Life:

Properly dried and cured cannabis has a longer shelf life, essential for growers who need to store their product for extended periods.

How Drying and Curing Affect the Final Product

Drying and curing impacts the final product’s potency, flavor, and quality. The controlled removal of moisture from the buds during the drying process helps to preserve the cannabinoid and terpene content while minimizing degradation. If the buds are not dried properly, the remaining water can lead to mold growth, which can be a health risk and prevent the product from being sold on the market.

Curing is the process of storing dried cannabis in a controlled environment to further develop its flavor and aroma. Curing allows the remaining moisture to distribute evenly throughout the buds, leading to a smoother smoking experience and a better taste. If the buds do not cure properly, they can become too dry and brittle, negatively affecting the final product’s quality.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

There are a few things that growers must be mindful of during the drying and curing process, which can lead to a lower-quality final product. Here are some things to avoid:

Drying Too Quickly: 

If the buds are dried too quickly (<7 days), it can lead to a harsh,  grassy taste and an unpleasant aroma.

Drying in Direct Sunlight: 

Drying cannabis in direct sunlight can lead to a loss of potency and reduced flavor.

Not Curing for Long Enough: 

If cannabis does not cure sufficiently, the taste and aroma may not fully develop.

Not Properly Sealing Containers: 

If cannabis is not in an airtight container, it can become too dry or moldy.

Benefits of Using Drying Racks for Improving Flavor and Aroma

The proper drying and curing process not only ensures the potency and terpene content of cannabis but also enhances the flavor and aroma profile. Drying racks play a vital role in improving the flavor and aroma of cannabis. Here are some of the benefits of using drying racks for enhancing flavor and aroma:

1. Slow and Even Drying

Using drying racks helps to dry cannabis buds slowly and evenly, which is essential for preserving the natural flavors and aromas of the plant. Slow drying allows the plant to slowly break down the chlorophyll and other pigments, resulting in a smoother smoke and better flavor.

4. Improved Shelf Life

Using drying racks helps to improve the shelf life of cannabis by ensuring that it is properly dried and cured. Properly dried and cured cannabis can last for months or even years without losing its flavor or potency, making it a valuable investment for growers.

2. Prevents Mold and Mildew

Drying racks help to prevent mold and mildew growth during the drying process. Mold and mildew can destroy the flavor and aroma of cannabis, and using drying racks ensures proper airflow and prevents moisture buildup, which reduces the risk of mold and mildew.

5. Enhanced Curing Process

After drying, cannabis buds require curing, which involves storing them in airtight containers allowing them to mature and develop their flavor and aroma profile. Drying racks provide an excellent surface area for curing and help to enhance the process, resulting in a smoother and more robust flavor.

3. Retains Cannabinoids and Terpenes

The cannabinoids and terpenes are in the trichomes on the surface of the buds. Drying racks help to retain the cannabinoids and terpenes that give cannabis its unique flavor and aroma. 

Pipp Horticulture’s Drying Racks

Pipp Horticulture’s Mobile Drying Racks are a leading solution for drying cannabis that offers many features to improve the quality of the final product. Let’s take a closer look at some of these features:

Product Features:

Cost-Efficient Drying Method: Pipp Horticulture’s drying racks offer a cost-efficient way of drying cannabis plants, which helps reduce labor costs and improve overall efficiency.

Adjustable Height: Standard racks are available up to 15′ high, allowing growers to adjust the size of their drying racks to suit their needs. Taller racks are available with engineering approval.

Gray Powder Coating: Pipp Horticulture’s Dry/Cure Room Rivet Racks come with a gray powder coating, which provides an added layer of protection against wear and tear. It is important to note that the powder coating is not antimicrobial or fungal-resistant.

White Powder Coating: Pipp Horticulture’s Dry/Cure Room Bulk Racks feature a white powder coating that possesses properties which inhibit the growth of microbes and fungi.

Hanging Options:

Round Hang Bars: Hang full plants on hang bars with a simple hook attachment that allows for faster trimming.

Finger Bars: Easily hang plants from adjustable cantilever prongs without hooks or wires. The hang attachment comes with 12 rods, which easily adjust along the support bracket.

Grid Hang: Hang plants from any position directly on 4” x 4” wire grid spacing. This style allows for greater air circulation with built-in flue space.

Pipp Horticulture’s Drying Carts

If Pipp Horticulture’s Drying Racks are not an option for your grow facility, our Drying Carts provide an alternative method for drying cannabis. Our different drying carts not only provide a space-efficient method for drying cannabis that requires minimal floor space, but also easy transportation of the product throughout the facility. With a variety of cart styles and options available, our carts can meet all your drying needs. 

  • Drying Cart: Designed to accommodate hanging plants in order to dry them out for further processing with adjustable cantilever-style finger attachments.
  • Nesting Drying Cart: Delivers ease of use, safety, and long life with super heavy-duty construction combined with Z-Base allowing for nesting when not in use. Optional middle hangrail and bottom shelf available.

In Conclusion

Using mobile drying racks and drying carts is a crucial step in the cannabis cultivation process. Pipp Horticulture’s Mobile Drying Racking System offers a reliable and efficient solution for drying and curing your cannabis crop. With adjustable shelves, air circulation, and temperature control, these drying racks can help maintain your product’s potency, terpene content, and overall quality.

To learn more about our products and how they can benefit your grow operation, download our dry/cure ebook. Refrain from settling for a mediocre product when you can achieve excellence with the help of Pipp Horticulture’s drying racks.

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Evolution of vertical farming

Evolution of Indoor Vertical Farming Webinar with MJBizDaily

Evolution of Indoor Vertical Farming Webinar with MJBizDaily

Trulieve

The Past, Present & Future

What does evolution mean? One definition of evolution is the gradual development of something, specifically from a simple to a more complex form. As humans, we grow to adapt and change to our environment. As we see the effects of climate change slowly integrating into our daily lives, we must start thinking ahead and change how we operate.

The adaptation of indoor vertical farming has become the new norm for many growing operations. Primarily due to the success of allowing cultivators to maximize their production capability, reduce operating costs, and increase their overall revenue per square foot. Utilizing vertical racking systems has further enhanced the efficiency of indoor vertical farming, providing a space-efficient solution for optimal plant growth. Additionally, incorporating vertical air solutions has proven to be instrumental in maintaining an ideal growing environment, contributing to the overall success of indoor vertical farming operations.

Michael Williamson, Director of Cultivation, and Anders Peterson, Cannabis Operations Specialist, recently presented a webinar with MJBizDaily where the team discussed the Evolution of Vertical Farming. From the early adoption of multi-tier nurseries by legacy growers to the cutting-edge vertical farms of today, viewers gained valuable insights into the progression of vertical farming equipment and designs and our predictions for the future.

Brief History of Vertical Farming

Today’s vertical farming is a relatively new concept, yet we’ve seen people use aspects of vertical farming for thousands of years. The first example of vertical farming dates back almost 2600 years ago to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Anders explains the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as “a man-made oasis in the middle of the desert, almost 60 feet tall, with advanced irrigation systems that could pump water 60 feet into the air to plants from around the world.” While just 1000 years ago, we learned that the Aztecs used floating gardens called chinampa. These gardens were one of the first hydroponic raft-style forms of agriculture, correlating to a technique of the Iroquois and the Cherokee use, referred to as three sisters or three sisters’ agriculture.

By 1915, an American geologist, Gilbert Bailey, coined Vertical Farming and studied an alternative way to increase farm area and produce quality crops. The events of World War One drove this experiment – with Gilbert creating a way to grow plants underground. By “blasting holes into the ground, with low-cost explosives produced during World War One, and growing plants underground in tunnels,” created a way to “protect them, shield them from the war, and locate them closer to dense urban areas.” Modern vertical farming concepts were developed by the 1950s, at the beginning of the Cold War. Many greenhouse and hydroponic systems were introduced and developed during this time.

In the 1990s, Columbia Professor Dickson Despommier, the father of modern vertical farming, “saw vertical farming as the answer to bringing food production closer to the consumers and reducing the carbon footprint, increasing sustainability,” Anders explains. Professor Dickson was interested in learning about New York and how we can help feed dense urban areas. For nine years, he taught experiments at Columbia on how to run calculations and scenarios of how tall skyscrapers would need to be for vertical farming. How many people could we feed if we planted food on every rooftop across New York? The experiments and concepts created then would evolve into what we see today.

How Cannabis Legalization Spurred

Adoption & Innovation

In the early 2010s, Vertical Farming was discussed and implemented into modern farms for non-cannabis crops but had not yet been adopted for cannabis. Anders explains, “It wasn’t until we saw adult-use cannabis legalization around 2014 in Colorado that the innovation kicked off and started to surge.” Due to the cannabis crop having a high value, growers were used to growing indoors due to the prohibition. They had a very high value and margin, allowing for innovation in the market.

From 2010 to 2015, more grow room designs were static, single-tier benches with HPS lights. Once 2013-2015 came along, we started seeing growers looking at horticulture systems and practices, adopting these practices, and having access to vendors and technology. From 2015 to 2018 – Larger racking manufacturers began entering the space. Pipp Horticulture joined the horticulture space in 2017 with our first indoor multi-level mobile vertical racking system. This system was installed in flower rooms at Fog City FarmsBy the end of 2018, Pipp had 40 installed locations. Now Pipp Horticulture has quickly become the industry-leading provider of Mobile Vertical Growing Solutions with installations in 45 states/provinces, 450 facilities, and over 2,500 grow rooms worldwide.

Progression of Vertical Racking Designs

One significant change to the vertical farming industry was the introduction of Fluence, an LED lighting company. They created their first Spyder light with a low profile, no fans, and a full spectrum white light LED, grabbing much attention from cultivators. Michael explains, “A common theme for the most significant limiting factor for good yields, plant health, and phenotypic expression in these rooms was a lack of environmental controls. We saw an industry shift within 2020-2022 where the ancillary equipment and services innovation showed significant improvement.“ We now see HVAC systems with integrated hot gas, reheat, and dehumidification much better suited for the indoor vertical farming space. 

Anders explains, “in terms of modulating controls, and sensors, they’re not running off thermostats on the wall; they’re running off canopy sensors in the room. We also started seeing purpose-built in-rack airflow systems, such as Vertical Air Solutions.After the first double-stacked mobile vertical racking system was installed in Fog City Farms, James Cunningham quickly realized he needed a purpose-built airflow solution to move air through the canopy of the multi-level racks. James and his partner, Matt Bogner, created Vertical Air Solutions, which provides increased, consistent airflow control while integrating filtration and CO2 delivery.  

As the indoor vertical farming industry continues to advance with discoveries and lessons learned from prior trials, the following questions come to mind “how do we make the labor more efficient? How do we make employees happier working in a multi-tier room” while also advancing in “the developments in the racks themselves?” Anders brings up the TRAK-FREE™ Carriage System, having the option to remove tracks on the floor for a more flexible work environment while also developing the ELEVATE® Platform System, allowing easy access to the top tiers of your vertical farm. Michael, who was involved in the development of the ELEVATE® Platform System, when touring facilities has asked who has adopted the platform system and how it’s helped their daily operations. Their answer almost every time is, “Game Changer.” Instead of having one row to service and one side of the canopy to utilize, growers can now run two of the ELEVATE® Platform Systems on the “canopy that they’re working on, putting workers on both sides. It dramatically reduces tasks while improving safety and ergonomics,” Michael states.

Where We Are Today

Where are we today with cannabis? “Much more competitive as more markets are opening,” Anders states. Production is at an all-time high in many mature states bringing the price per pound lower. What is the trick to the market today? Efficiency. Anders brings up that “a common thing discussed today in vertical farming facilities and single tier facilities is quantifying the performance metrics of these facilities.” Cultivators are now looking at a vertical approach. Michael brings up all the factors involved with a new build, “new facility, a new state, new laws, new building, new equipment, new team, new LED lighting; it takes a while to understand new technology. People have had time to work out the mistakes made and are now pushing the envelope of what’s possible. Growers are finding the balance of the design, and builders are figuring out the balance of how to build inside these systems.” Seeing an increase in yield metrics today. Anders states, “We’ve built enough facilities to learn these lessons.”

Prediction for the Future

We now see lessons learned in the cannabis industry translating to the non-cannabis sector. Non-cannabis vertical farm applications to consider would be leafy greens, strawberries, and herbs. As Anders would say, “closing the loop coming full circle to where we started.” Locating facilities closer to dense urban areas limits the food distance of transportation. We’re now seeing a move to indoor vertical farming in the Middle East, growing vertically in Abu Dhabi and Dubai due to climate and moving the plants from where they’re grown to where the consumers are, growing these plants at a much lower cost all year round. Michael states, “People realize today, more than ever, how unstable our food supply chain is. With our ever-growing population, some really difficult challenges exist to overcome.”

As far as cannabis and predictions for the future, technology keeps advancing and can be taken advantage of in the indoor cultivation market. Michael predicts, “Between the implementation of AI and robotics that exists today, I anticipate that you’ll be able to call trays from whatever tier, whatever room, whatever level, and a robot will go grab those for you, bring those to a centralized headhouse or processing building, where workers will be basically in line.” Those workers in the headhouse could even be automated robotics. Limiting the number of times we touch plants helps limit the spread of diseases. Humans tend to be the spreaders of pests. The more we can keep human interaction to a minimum, the fewer pesticides used and fewer diseases and pests spread. Because of this automation, Michael states, “We’ll start seeing more tiers in cannabis going higher, even more vertically, occupying that cubic footage.” Also, with the federal banking reform, cannabis operators have “more traditional access to capital and loans. This will help spur the next phase in the evolution of vertical farming.”

In Conclusion

In conclusion, vertical farming has come a long way over the years. It has evolved rapidly due to various factors, such as technological advancements in indoor vertical racking designs, cannabis legalization, and the efforts of companies like Pipp. The history of vertical farming has shown that it has the potential to advance how we grow our food, and it has already started to impact urban areas significantly. Pipp Horticulture has been at the forefront of this evolution of vertical farming, offering innovative solutions to improve the efficiency and sustainability of indoor vertical farming.

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Dispensary Storage

7 Mistakes to Avoid with Cannabis Dispensary Storage

7 Mistakes to Avoid with Cannabis Dispensary Storage

Dispensary Storage

Make the Most of Your Space!

When it comes to cannabis retail, there can be many obstacles to face even before opening your doors to your first patient. Sooner than later, you might run out of storage space with all your inventory and rising cannabis brands in the industry. Where will these products all go? Dispensary storage is no different than general retail storage, and mobile shelving is the preferred storage method for most of the nation’s top retailers. Pipp has dominated the retail storage industry for over 40 years, helping retailers maximize stockroom storage space and finding innovative ways to keep the area clean and organized.

Below we have compiled a list of mistakes to avoid with your dispensary storage to help you stay ahead in this rising, fast-paced industry.

1. Brand Positioning in Back-of-House

MISTAKE: Unorganized Back-of-House

Clear organization is essential in keeping the back-of-house free from cluttering. Consistent and clear brand representation throughout the dispensary is necessary to create a cohesive and memorable customer experience. Before starting, dispensaries should clearly understand what message they want to communicate to their customers and with the brands they carry.

 

SOLUTION: Use Storage Systems to Access Items

Using a well-thought-out storage system to access brand-specific products will allow quick inventory access. Utilizing shelving units with individual storage compartments or shelves for each brand will allow for dedicated and easy-to-manage brand locations. Our Back-of-House Secured Mobile Storage solutions are available in various configurations to meet your cannabis-secured storage goals. They are suited for dispensaries using labeled bins or boxes to store items from each brand separately.

2. Architecture & Construction

MISTAKE: Not Enough Storage Space When First Designing

Cannabis dispensaries running out of storage may face several challenges, including stocking popular products, decreased sales, and potential regulatory issues. It is crucial for dispensaries to carefully manage their inventory and storage space for cannabis to ensure they can meet customer demand and comply with local regulations.

“When I managed a dispensary, the biggest challenge for us by far was not having enough secured storage. We had to order smaller quantities until we retrofitted the secure storage room (vault) to accommodate more products. The regulations from state to state varied greatly on secure product storage for cannabis, making it difficult to find the right compliant solution for us; it required talking to an expert who understood the technical specs.”

Anders Peterson, Cannabis Operations Specialist at Pipp Horticulture.

SOLUTION: Working with Pipp to Maximize Square Footage Design

Consider Secured Storage or a Mobile Storage System to maximize square footage in small spaces. You can design and construct your area to incorporate built-in storage solutions such as robust pry-resistant doors, a fully welded closed tube frame, a three-point rod locking mechanism, tamper-proof hardware, and our secured storage options.

Secured storage provides more space and helps keep inventory protected and organized while storing more goods in a fixed space. Storage capacity increases can range from 35 to 50 percent utilizing high-density mobile shelving.

If increased storage capacity isn’t the goal, an additional advantage of choosing high-density mobile shelving is to decrease the overall storage footprint in your store. Mobile shelving allows for a specific amount of marijuana storage in a smaller space, freeing up other square footage for selling floors or other elements needed in the store.

3. Organization for Inventory

MISTAKE: Disorganized Inventory

Cannabis dispensaries without organized inventory can face many challenges, including difficulty tracking product availability, inaccurate sales reporting, and decreased customer satisfaction. Dispensaries need a system for inventory management to ensure smooth operations and happy customers. 

SOLUTION: First In, First Out Concept (FIFO) with Secured Storage

Creating a First In, First Out (FIFO) concept with secured storage means that the items are retrieved in the order they were stored, ensuring that the oldest items are sold from inventory first. This system can be helpful in various situations, such as inventory management or product freshness. 

4. Climate

MISTAKE: Forgetting About the Details

It is essential to ensure that cannabis dispensaries’ storage rooms utilize climate control measures to maintain appropriate temperature and humidity levels. Mistakes in climate control can lead to the product’s degradation and failure to maintain proper humidity levels. Failure to maintain climate control can cause mold and mildew to grow on the packaged plants, affecting the potency and quality of cannabis products.

SOLUTION: Storage Systems with Powder Coating

Implementing storage systems with a powder coat paint or zinc-plated finish can address climate control concerns in cannabis dispensaries – with appropriate temperature and humidity levels, helping maintain a clean and safe environment for storing products and extending shelf life.

5. Designing with Employees in Mind

MISTAKE: Not Considering Employee’s Workflow When Designing

Designing a cannabis dispensary with employees in mind requires considering their safety and comfort while creating an efficient workflow process. It’s essential to consider the back of the house in these considerations. Providing adequate employee training to operate the dispensary safely and effectively is vital to a successful team. 

 

SOLUTION: Creating an Efficient Workflow with Secured Storage

Establishing transparent processes and procedures is essential to improving workflow efficiency. A mobile storage system with secured storage can allow for a more efficient existing workflow by removing fixed aisles and more efficient use of square footage. Secured storage can help create a system that tracks inventory and limits access to authorized personnel – preventing theft or unauthorized use of products. Additionally, regular audits can help ensure regulatory compliance and identify potential issues early on.

6. Cleanliness

MISTAKE: Unreachable Areas to Clean

Having areas that are difficult to reach and clean regularly can cause inadequate cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces and equipment and failure to store and label products properly. These mistakes can lead to potential health hazards for employees and customers. Following proper cleanliness and cannabis storage protocols ensures a safe and healthy environment.

SOLUTION: Regularly Cleaning All Surfaces Easily with Mobile Aisles

Creating a schedule that includes regular cleaning of all surfaces and training staff on proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures helps ensure everyone follows the same guidelines while utilizing secured storage options like Secured Storage Systems and Mobile Storage Systems to store products safely and securely. Implementing a system to ensure that all products are organized and easy to find makes cleaning and sanitizing the area more long-term manageable.

7. Personal Employee Items Security

MISTAKE: No Area for Employees Belongings

Not providing a designated space for team members to store their personal belongings on the job can lead to cluttered work areas and potential security issues. Dispensaries need to prioritize the safety and comfort of their employees by providing adequate storage solutions for personal items.

SOLUTION: Secured Employee Lockers

Using employee lockers can help keep the workspace organized and provide a secure place for employees to store their personal belongings. There are various options with employee lockers, from different heights and size openings to other door options that include solid, ventilated, and even see-through.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, Pipp Mobile Storage Systems have a 40-plus-year history of providing storage solutions. Retail Dispensary Storage is the latest application where our wide variety of products can improve efficiency, workflow, security, and overall employee satisfaction.

Our team of in-house experts can provide detailed storage area designs, goal specific shelving elevations, offer a turnkey experience by installing the fixtures, and solve storage concerns in the retail dispensary market. Our products solve the storage issues for many of the top specialty retailers in North America.

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Pipp Horticulture at Culta in Maryland

10 Do’s & Don’ts for Your Grow Room

10 Do’s & Don’ts for Your Grow Room

Pipp Horticulture at Culta in Maryland

Let’s Get Started!

Are you new to the industry, looking for tips for your upcoming grow room, or considering converting your single-tier setup to a multi-tiered vertical farm? Below we have put together a list of Do’s and Don’ts to follow for your grow room, so you don’t have to! We’re here to help make sense of all the available information and help you better understand the best practices to implement in your grow room.

1. Canopy Footprint

Do: Know Your Canopy Footprint

When first considering starting your own grow room, you must understand how much space you have. Do you have enough veg space to feed your flowering rooms? Can you meet your production goals? Most of the equipment in your grow room is sized based on your canopy footprint per room, while cultivation KPI metrics are also based on the canopy footprint. You can gain canopy square footage without sacrificing quality using mobile vertical grow racking systems. Learn more about gaining canopy square footage without sacrificing quality!

Don’t: Just Think About Plant Count

While plant count is essential, it can vary. The canopy footprint (or total bench area) will never change; it is constant. You can start thinking about canopy footprint instead of plant count or how many pounds per light.

 

2. Utilities

Do: Ensure You Have the Proper Utility Infrastructure to Support Your Build-Out

Ensuring you have the proper utility infrastructure to support your build-out will help avoid delays with adequate planning. If you need the appropriate utility infrastructure, engage with your local utility to estimate the timeline and cost of upgrading the utility services to your facility. You’ll want to write this one down, as this can be one of the most common delays for a new build!

Don’t: Assume

Assuming your new property has enough power, gas, and water to run your multi-tier grow facility will only cause delays. Your building will likely need the appropriate utility services to support your new facility. Run estimates! Running estimates before purchasing a new property can help estimate your utility usage and begin the utility upgrade process earlier than later. Running calculations will ensure limited delays for your new grow room. 

3. Budget

Do: Budget Appropriately

Cultivation facilities can be expensive, especially when new to the industry. Investing in the appropriate technologies (high CapEx) results in lower operating costs (OpEx). Lower production price means you will remain competitive as a cultivation business in market compression. Investing in vertical farming can also be a higher upfront cost. However, this higher upfront cost compared to single-level growing sets you up for success with a lower production cost for your facility’s life. Read more about the pros and cons of vertical farming!

Don’t: Cut Corners on Your Build-Out

Growers will forever be sacrificing yield, quality, consistency, and efficiency. To survive in today’s indoor cannabis market, you must invest in efficient technologies and reduce your cost per pound. The right facility design and budget can ensure you remain competitive for years to come.

 

4. Multi-Tier Growing

Do: Consider Multi-Tier

The time is now to convert to vertical farming, especially in a multi-tier facility set-up. Multi-tier vertical farming can significantly increase production capacity and utilize square and cubic footage. It is an overall more efficient strategy for indoor cultivation and allows for fixed cost absorption. Before converting to multi-tier vertical farming, learn about vertical farming cannabis grow systems!

Don’t: Assume Multi-Tier Growing is Cost-Prohibitive

Investing in multi-tier may be a higher upfront cost to get started. Still, the ability to produce more products in a smaller overall footprint is inherently more efficient and cost-effective. 

5. Working With the Right Team

Do: Assemble the Right Team

Hire an experienced cultivator! Engage consultants, architects, engineers, and contractors with experience designing and building an indoor cultivation facility. Building an indoor plant environment requires unique considerations that even the most experienced professionals could overlook. 

Connect with the Pipp Horticulture team when considering a team to help invest in Vertical Farming!

Don’t: Go the Cheaper Route When Hiring

“You get what you pay for” isn’t a saying for any reason. Don’t assume you will automatically start making large amounts of money initially. Your return on investment will take time, and hiring the right team at the beginning will help make those profits faster. Investing in the right team will pay off in the long run!

6. Environmental Controls

Do: Invest in Your Mechanical System and Airflow Design

Investing in your mechanical system and airflow design can often be the most significant limiting factor for success and profitability for indoor cultivation facilities. Practical and consistent air circulation is a must for any grow room, especially in the vertical farming setting. Knowing your watering rates and desired setpoints can help you decide which system and design you want to invest in. Long-term success is limited to good environmental controls. 

The patented Vertical Air Solutions (VAS) inner canopy air circulation system is designed to work with an HVAC system specified for your vertical farm size and growing methods. The VAS system lets you control environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, airflow velocity, and CO2 levels, optimizing plant health and finished product quality.

Don’t: Invest in Easily Upgradeable Systems

When just getting started, think about what systems are easier to retrofit once you start making money. If the budget is limited, try and figure out how to save money on these systems up front and set goals to upgrade after specific revenue benchmarks. 

7. Lighting

Do: Invest in LED Horticultural Fixtures

Since adopting Horticultural LED fixtures, the cost per fixture has dropped dramatically. Almost every facility built today uses LED lighting due to its efficiency per joule, spectrum, and form factor. Plus, you can often offset the cost of these fixtures with utility rebates from your local utility. LED lighting can help indoor cannabis operations by optimizing plant growth at every stage of the plant life cycle. Learn how vertical farming technology can improve your indoor cannabis operation!

Don’t: Spend Time and Money with HPS Lighting

HPS technology can be inefficient at converting electrical energy into usable plant light. All the heat generated with HPS lighting requires more cooling capacity to remove. With vertical farming adding multiple tiers of grow space, investing in LED lights will be crucial to maintain temperature.

8. Employee Considerations

Do: Train Employees on Your Systems

It’s essential to train your employees to know precisely what they need to do daily. Especially with vertical farming systems, Vertical Farming requires different training than single-tier systems. Limit the number of specialty tasks per employee, and have them master a job before training them on a new one. Walk before you run! Labor is the highest cost of producing a pound; a good team who feels confident in their job and cares about the plant will result in a profitable and successful business. Make their day-to-day more comfortable; an employee who enjoys coming to work will do a better job.

One element that the Pipp Horticulture team has thought of to help allow cultivators to access the upper levels of our multi-tier Vertical Grow Racks with ease and safety is our ELEVATE® Platform System. One person can set up the entire system, and the ergonomic design reduces worker stress and the risk of injury or fatigue.

Don’t: Assume Everyone Knows the Process, Even If They Say They Do

Employee errors cause injuries and failures due to a lack of training. Grow facilities should constantly update their SOPs and ensure their employees are up-to-date on the latest procedures. The cannabis industry is a fast-paced environment, and things can change overnight. Have a method to help track employee performance and mold that dedicated and professional team to achieve specific goals and success! 

9. Cleanliness

Do: Keep Your Facility and Grow Rooms Clean

A clean facility means healthy plants resulting in greater yields. Design an easier-to-clean facility, and plan out drains, sinks, and systems to allow for more efficient cleaning procedures. Reasonable environmental control and airflow reduce your risk for pathogen proliferation. The worst feeling a grower can experience is failing a lab test and not being able to sell a harvest batch that they just spent 3-4 months and tons of money growing. 

Pipp systems are designed for easy cleaning and sanitization. Grow Racks have an E-Coat base layer, providing complete coverage and negating the Faraday effect, while a powder coat top layer provides anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Pipp also made the inside duct work more accessible by removing the end caps. Learn more with our Vertical Farming Tips: Cleaning and Sterilizing with Vertical Air Solutions blog!

Don’t: Be Lazy

Cutting corners results in poor yields, airflow, and unhappy plants. Dirty facilities without proper reset and sanitization protocols increase their risk of failing lab tests and often reduce their yields. Growing quality indoor cannabis is not guaranteed; the more work and care you put into your plants and facility, the more you will be rewarded.

10. Balance

Do: Keep in Mind Every Parameter, Metric, and KPI in Your Grow Room Regarding Balance

Balance is the key to successful grow room design and operation. Is your watering rate balanced with your dehumidification capacity? Do your lighting levels balance with your CO2 levels? Energy in = energy out. Growing indoors is all about energy balance; within every system and plant to ensure success.

Don’t: Narrow Your Focus

Every system and growth parameter within your grow room works harmoniously and synergistically. If you just think about your fertilizer solution or irrigation strategy, you need to consider how that affects every other parameter to avoid throwing things out of balance. Balance your plant process flow, labor needs and timing, genetics rotation through production, and growth parameters. Balance is the key to success. 

In Conclusion

Working with the Pipp Horticulture team saves money when considering a new grow room. Pipp Horticulture continues to grow and improve daily with over 50 years of experience. It has quickly become the industry-leading provider of Mobile Vertical Growing Solutions with installations in over 2,500 grow rooms worldwide. We have engineered various cost-effective solutions that can exponentially grow your production without increasing your square footprint, allowing cultivators to grow up to 5x more by maximizing their cubic grow space and creating more efficient workflows. Moving forward with Pipp Horticulture means working closely with our in-house professional engineers, CAD designers, sales support, and experienced cannabis operators. Let us help you maximize your production capability, reduce operating costs, and increase your overall revenue per square foot!

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Oakfruitland Vertical Farming

Everything You Need To Know About Vertical Cannabis Grow Systems

Everything You Need To Know About Vertical Cannabis Grow Systems

Cannabis Vertical Grow Rack System

Although the legal cannabis industry is over a decade old in some states, it’s still a nascent industry compared to other agricultural sectors with proven best practices and equipment. The processes, techniques, and tools used to grow commercial cannabis are constantly evolving to optimize and streamline operations. Due to this rapid advancement, many ideas, systems, and strategies are antiquated and becoming obsolete. 

Growing Cannabis Vertically

Still, one concept expanding exponentially and here to stay for the foreseeable future is growing cannabis vertically. Vertical farming, when done correctly using vertical cannabis grow system, can significantly increase output, standardize operations, and maximize the overall efficiency of any commercial cannabis grow operation. Implementing vertical farming and space optimization strategies throughout the facility can reduce per-unit costs, allowing operators to take greater profits or stay competitive in more mature markets with declining prices. 

If you’re wisely considering investing in mobile vertical cannabis grow systems, read on to learn more about the benefits and what you’ll need to get started.

Advantages of Cannabis Vertical Grow Systems

While traditional horizontal growing is appropriate in specific scenarios, it leaves valuable space emptying many facilities. Incorporating vertical grow systems into your operation allows you to leverage every inch of your grow room to maximize profits while saving you money on alternative production space expenditures.

For example, sophisticated vertical cannabis grow systems can support strategies around efficient, closed-loop water systems to reduce water usage and associated costs. A well-designed irrigation plan should minimize and recapture run-off, in turn saving substantial amounts of money on water and sewer fees by capturing, treating, and reusing water.

Other advantages of vertical cannabis grow systems include:

  • Reduction of per-unit costs
  • Increased horizontal canopy space through the elimination of stationery aisles and the creation of mobile aisles via mobile carriages
  • Reduced need to buy or lease additional property for expansion
  • Standardized and streamlined cultivation processes and practices

Necessary Components of Vertical Cannabis Grow Systems

Oakfruitland: Vertical Farming Equipment and Components of a Vertical Grow System

Growing cannabis in a controlled-environment indoor grow facility offers a high degree of stability and control when combined with the proper tools and systems, including vertical cannabis grow system. To better understand the necessary components of commercial cannabis grow system, it’s important to understand the variables of growing cannabis. 

These variables include:

  • Genetics
  • Weather
  • Light (intensity, spectrum, cycle)
  • Temperature (ambient, canopy, sub-canopy, media)
  • Humidity (RH, dew point)
  • Airflow (ambient, canopy)
  • CO2 (quality, delivery)
  • Media (type, volume)
  • Irrigation (type, frequency, volume, treatment)
  • Fertigation (type, concentration, schedule, mixing)
  • IPM (microbial, viral, pests)
  • Plant maintenance
  • Support

All of these variables impact the final product sold to consumers and contribute to the costs of goods sold (COGS), which all play a part in any grow operation’s profit margins. In other words, to have control over these variables is to have greater control over how much money your business makes. Utilizing vertical cannabis grow systems in your operation helps standardize and better control some of these variables when designed, installed, and commissioned correctly.

How To Set Up a Vertical Cannabis Grow System

Vertical cannabis grows systems can require more planning than traditional grow operations because you need to evaluate multiple variables on multiple levels that can all impact one another. When setting up your vertical grow racks and mobile carriages, be sure to consider the following:
 
  • Floor levelness
  • Ceiling height (including ductwork and any other objects hanging)
  • Drain locations
  • Door locations
  • Columns and other obstructions and their potential interference
  • Local municipal building codes
  • Multi-level access equipment clearance (OSHA-approved ladders or man-lifts)
  • Workflow and ergonomics
  • Product lead times
  • Installation 

Hiring certified and experienced professionals to help you design, outfit, and set up your vertical grow system is wise. Working with providers like Pipp Horticulture allows access to seasoned professionals who can review architectural layouts and designs and make recommendations for maximized space utilization, elevations, and integration with other components. Additionally, Pipp can provide grow room dimensions for maximizing canopy, workspace, and airflow.

Flora Terra - Pipp Horticulture Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

Tips for Maintaining Your Vertical Cannabis Grow System

If your vertical cannabis grow system is made with aluminum and galvanized or stainless steel components, there’s a good chance it will require little maintenance. Wheels should be sealed bearings, so no lubrication or maintenance is necessary. Wiping down racks and trays, vacuuming debris from the floor, trays, and tracks, and using ozone, UV, Bio-Foam, and Bio-Fogger to sanitize your equipment will help maintain a healthy growing environment.

You will also want to check and perform suggested maintenance on your drains regularly. Make sure to keep drains clear of debris and monitor your entire plumbing as fertilizers and other chemicals and solutions can corrode pipes and joints.

Safety is a big concern for any commercial operator. Ensuring your Team has easy access to the plants on the upper level of your cannabis grow system while minimizing their reach and fall risk is crucial for owners and managers running a tight ship. Ladders, lifts, and scaffolding can get the job done, but they’re more dangerous than other options. Pipp’s ELEVATE™ Platform System is a robust, lightweight, portable deck that allows cultivators to access the upper levels quickly, efficiently, and, most importantly, safely.

The Future of Cannabis

Because of the rising demand for recreational cannabis and the growing list of medical uses of the plant, the need for indoor-grown cannabis shows no signs of slowing down. The combination of demand, land pressure, and increasing rents will prompt cultivators to embrace more efficient cultivation solutions like vertical farming. 

Vertical farming techniques allow growers to maximize their output and consistently provide locally grown cannabis to consumers in urban centers. Vertical cannabis grow systems will continue to optimize and drive efficiency in cannabis and other indoor agricultural sectors while reducing inefficiencies commonly associated with indoor farming.

Pipp Horticulture is the leading space-saving mobile indoor vertical grow racking systems provider. All Pipp Horticulture products are made in the USA and integrate with other essential grow equipment like lighting, irrigation, drainage, and airflow systems.

Vertical farming with Pipp Horticulture can maximize production capability, reduce COGS, and increase overall profitability.
 
 
 

Call us today to take the next step and learn more about vertical commercial cannabis cultivation!

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

TerrAscend

Pipp’s Mobile Vertical Grow Racks Lift Farmers to Higher Ground – Max Yield Magazine

Pipp’s Mobile Vertical Grow Racks Lift Farmers to Higher Ground – Max Yield Magazine

TerrAscend

Pipp Horticulture featured in the latest Maximum Yield article

Leading mobile vertical grow rack provider, Pipp Horticulture, is paving the way for indoor and greenhouse growers looking to maximize their space and cultivation production.

After 40 years of dominating the mobile storage industry, it only took a few short years for Pipp Horticulture to become the industry-leading provider of mobile vertical grow racks, focused on the mission to develop the most innovative products specifically designed to meet the needs of indoor growers. The company passionately and meticulously meets the needs of its clients. With over 2,000 installations worldwide, their innovation and commitment to continual improvement have enabled them to stand out and expand their leadership position in this niche industry by eliminating obstacles, increasing efficiencies, and boosting revenues for indoor growers.

Pipp and its partners, Greenhaus Industries and Vertical Air Solutions (VAS) were awarded several U.S. patents for their indoor mobile vertical farming systems and airflow solutions. Additionally…

To check out the full article about Pipp’s groundbreaking products and services for cultivators across the globe, check out Maximum Yield’s full article, “Pipp’s Mobile Vertical Grow Racks Lift Farmers to Higher Ground,” with the link below!

Click Here!

Flora Terra

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Cannabis Conference 2022

Vertical Farming | What To Know Before You GROW UP!

Vertical Farming | What To Know Before You GROW UP!

Cannabis Conference 2022

The Pipp Horticulture team is no stranger to the Cannabis Conference stage. During the 2022 Cannabis Conference, Pipp’s team of cultivation professionals and engineering experts took the stage during the final day as session speakers! Michael Williamson, Director of Cultivation at Pipp Horticulture, James Cunningham, Co-Founder and Director of Cultivation at Vertical Air Solutions, and Del Rockwell, Product Manager at Pipp Horticulture, discussed the essential considerations behind space planning and design for a multi-tier indoor cultivation facility. 

During the Technologies and Solutions Session on Vertical Farming, Michael Williamson, Director of Cultivation at Pipp Horticulture, stated, “With everything in cannabis, it’s all about the little details.” Four main topics were discussed during the session when considering “What To Know Before You GROW UP!” Below you’ll find the key takeaways on how to improve your safety, ergonomics, and productivity.

Vertical Farming Space Planning & Design Layout

Mother Plants

Currently, we’re seeing many different trends in the cannabis industry, particularly around vertical farming. Everyone is used to double or triple multi-tiered environments for their clone rooms, but we are now seeing a shift from having huge mother plants to having multiple mother plants in a two-tiered environment. Typically, you see traditional cultivators with huge moms taking as many cuttings as possible, cycling through their mother plants much faster, with a three-month life span. When going from a single-tier to double, you’re getting twice the amount of healthy, viable clones. Cultivators are now getting healthier plants, more healthy cuttings, and reducing pest and disease risks.

How High Can You Go? 

Cultivators still need to consider the layout of the entire facility. It’s vital to support your flower room and the volume of plants while considering the design regarding your operations workflow. “It’s tempting always to go as high as possible and as long as possible,” Del Rockwell states, “but many growers saw a ‘sweet spot’ at about 32 to 40 feet in length. We see about 12 to 14-foot tall works for most facilities for shelving.” Del states, “We can go longer,” but you have to consider how you will access everything, how effective it will be, and what the quality of the plants you will get from labor and access.

Air Circulation

When constructing the growing area, you’re putting layers across the room with an HVAC design and adding circulation to create a homogenous environment. “Many of us in the indoor space came from single-tier cultivation, where you have a big open ambient space between the canopy and the ceiling in the room,” James Cunningham states while discussing air circulation in the grow space. James continues, “Combining all this equipment into one room creates an impediment for the supply air coming from your HVAC and for your transpiration and heat load from your lights to get trapped in. As the distance shrinks from canopy to ceiling, the grower will need to find a way to create consistent temperature and humidity in the space. By introducing Vertical Air Solutions to your growing operations, you’ll receive mixing chambers bolted to the outside of the racks with inline fans to pull conditioned and dehumidified air. You strategically supply conditioned air to each tier space, creating consistency and a dissatisfying microclimate through the canopy.”

Design and Mechanical Engineering

“Design and mechanical engineering behind your HVAC are very important in your cultivation space,” notes James discussing the difference between a successful and low microbial or low melt mold and mildew crop. Design and mechanical engineering are one of the most overlooked aspects of the process, taking into account the supply, layout, and innovation at the beginning before it’s too late.

Environmental Control Needs

Regardless of your approach to sizing your HVAC, growers need to understand how to supply air strategically to their vertical space. “To drop the moisture out of the air, you have to cool it rapidly to get the air to condense and then supply it back to the room with a reheat element,” James stated. Typical HVAC systems installed into grow operations exchange air only a few times per hour; however, Vertical Air Solutions expects 20-30 complete room air exchanges per hour. The supply and returns can make a world of difference in the performance of your plants and mitigating disease.

Genetics and Key Traits

Thanks to Vertical Air Solutions, “now I can grow any cultivar,” Michael reflected during the discussion with James about his past focus on growing only certain types of cultivars in a vertical farming environment. With years of experience, James states, “what landed us being fairly successful in vertical spaces was understanding the genetics and knowing what we were getting into.” In the beginning, running Indica-dominant plants that didn’t stretch too far can now work with any strain but also introduce the Sativa-dominant plants that grow in the lights.

Vertical Farming
Sozo Vertical Farming

Labor Optimization 

When thinking about single-tier grow operations, most are growing plants roughly five to seven feet tall, working on a rolling bench, and climbing a ladder to get to the very top. Pipp Horticulture considered this and “was the first to come up with a catwalk system that is seamless and easy to put into a system,” Michael states while talking about Pipp Horticulture’s ELEVATE™ Platform System. By incorporating ELEVATE™, growers no longer face challenges in a multi-tier environment. Employees can reach their level in a second or third-tier setting feeling safe and secure. Safety was one of the most critical priorities regarding design, flexibility, and efficiency. “One of the largest expenses you’re going to have over the lifetime of this facility is the labor expenses,” Del states. Anything to optimize and reduce the time spent on processes will be beneficial. When it comes to labor also comes liability. We always want to keep people and their safety first. 

In Conclusion

Shifting from a single-tiered grow room to a multi-tiered vertical farming environment helps optimize space and maximize profits. Subscribe to the What To Know Before You GROW UP podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts to stay updated with the latest cultivation tactics and industry trends.

Ready to Grow UP?
Get a FREE Grow Consultation