enhanced weed growing

This is due in no small part to the fact that Plena’s farm is in Columbia. It is situated over a thousand feet above sea level. Literally closer to the sun, the plants get a higher dose of solar radiation. The growing season is hot and 365 days long.

Canadian company Organigram has similar core principles. Its gardeners are focused on an end goal—plants for profit—and are constantly trying to improve grow methods.

When the Canadian market opened up a few years ago, Organigram took the long view, said Rogers. Other companies were racing to market, going for cheap, high capacity, and Organigram saw a huge opportunity to differentiate. “Quality will win,” said Rogers. “We’re growing the athletes that are going to the Olympics, so to speak.”

“The advantage to outside is cost, right off the bat,” said Richard Zwicky, Plena’s founder and CEO. Outdoor farming in general is more difficult, he acknowledges, but Plena’s production costs come in at less than 20 cents a gram.

220,000 lbs) of market-ready marijuana.

Indoor growing.

Legalization in both North and South America has altered the cannabis game. In the past, cannabis production primarily occurred indoors and out of sight, but today, f urtive fields have been transformed into big agriculture and commercialism has changed the discussion. For companies, the indoor versus outdoor question is less about principles and more about profit.

Mothers and clones start their life cycle in a customized-for-cannabis, state-of-the-art greenhouse. After repotting, plants move to standard greenhouses, continuing their vegetative phase before moving outside for the flowering phase.

Still, much of that thriving does depend on nature. Outdoor stressors such as solar radiation can prompt production of cannabinoids, allowing for smaller plants with higher levels, Zwicky said.

Controlled lighting in the greenhouses prevents flowering, keeping the plants in the vegetative phase longer so that they gain mass, Zwicky said. But most importantly for Plena, greenhouse cultivation allows for consistency across the plants and ensures there is a crop ready to plant once a field has been turned over.

“We respect the plant. But it’s also just a widget,” said Matt Rogers, Organigram’s Senior Vice President of Operations.

One of Rosenthal’s recent consulting projects was an outdoor farm in arctic Canada. He said. The growing season is three months long, which means only one crop. There’s a low yield per acre and the plants have mediocre THC levels. But none of that matters to those farmers. With 200 acres of dirt cheap land and an end product of concentrate instead of flower, they can get a high profit with minimal investment.

“Which is better really depends on what aspect you look at,” said Ed Rosenthal, a well-known cannabis expert, author, and advocate. “It really depends on your situation.”

Organigram spent CA$250 million constructing its facility, Rogers said. It contains over a hundred grow rooms, each of which can be tailored to the specific climate needs of a varietal.

“You really have to look at it more agriculturally. And from what I’ve seen a lot of large companies haven’t,” said Rosenthal. “Yet.”

Surprisingly, outdoor can be a better choice in a cold, wintery clime.

Factors to consider: price, climate, and quality.

Those little things are informed by experiments performed in the research and development grow rooms, which hold five to fifteen trials at a time. One experiment revealed that a room with 70 wider-spaced plants produced the same yield as 100 plants, a dramatic difference to cost over 100 rooms.

The broad answer for both hobby growers and large companies remains the same: it depends. The specific answer is different for everyone.

Climate is a factor for both commercial and hobby gardeners, explained Rosenthal. Plants need sun and warmth to thrive. Latitude makes a difference in daylight hours and length of grow season. Living situation also plays a part. If you’re in a city or worry about your neighbors, indoors would make more sense, Rosenthal said.

The fight over whether indoor farming is better than outdoor has raged for decades. It is normally framed as outdoor idealists against indoor advocates. There are obvious benefits to both grow methods—free light and cheap land versus control and consistency—and greenhouses offer some of both. But now, the debate has moved into the new zone of commercial farming.

A continent away, Plena Global’s goal is to produce cannabinoid ingredients for the pharmaceutical industry. They chose a location accordingly—it’s a Canadian company, but its outdoor farm is in South America.

Like Rosenthal, Rogers espouses goal-oriented farming. “Don’t just grow cannabis, grow cannabis for a specific reason.”

Indoor allows you to completely control your environment, including temperature, light source, CO2 levels, and humidity, without having to worry about weather. Indoor typically produces flower with higher THC percentages.

Growing weed outdoors.

And cost matters. Outdoor farms require far less investment. Low-value land can offset a smaller crop or a shorter season. Free sunlight and free soil are more than just pennies saved, but growers are exposed to natural risks, said Rosenthal, who now works as a consultant. “It goes both ways outdoors.”

“There are merits to both indoors and outdoors,” said Zwicky. “You always need a bit of a blend.”

The ultimate factor is the goal, Rosenthal said. If you want a certain grade of cannabis, such as a gorgeous, stanky dried flower with a consistent quality, indoor could be better in spite of the upfront and maintenance costs.

“Data has made a lot of good decisions for us,” said Rogers. “It’s about the little things that add up to the big things.”

But Plena’s plants don’t grow exclusively outdoors. Like Organigram and Rosenthal in his consulting capacity, Plena’s seed-to-harvest process has been carefully thought out.

The key mistake, according to Rosenthal, is not adapting to today’s legal climate. Prohibition era thinking persists, keeping the fallacy alive that a larger plant is better. Small, single stem plants can produce more flower, while larger plants spend more energy on growing stalks and leaves. Gardening is really all about the harvest, said Rosenthal, so that’s wasted energy.

That consistency is key, as medicinal marijuana has to be grown to standards that put an ‘organic’ label to shame, Zwicky said. Instead of pesticides, which would become concentrated during the distilling phase, Plena releases sterilized predator bugs and uses organic horse manure.

Outdoor has its place and nature has a million benefits, Rogers said. But customizable, indoor rooms and evolving technologies are what suit Organigram’s purpose: consistent high-quality dried flower.

Terpenes contribute to the flavors of many household spices (like cinnamon, rosemary, cloves and ginger) and help create the scent of most flowers.

Supplements in the Flowering Stage.

Have you ever had weed that knocks your socks off ? The kind of cannabis buds that people brag/warn their friends about?

The Botanicare Sweet Carbo line offers cannabis supplements to make buds smell like citrus, berry, or “raw” (a generally sweet smell)

Over time, any grower (especially indoor growers) will see that great air quality is a big contributor to star-quality buds. Air flow and ventilation are essential if you want to create perfect air quality.

For example, there’s no amount of plant training or growing skill that can make up for the amount of light produced by an incandescent bulb; the bulb simply doesn’t have what it takes to do the job.

6.) Make Sure Grow Room has Strong Air Flow & Good Ventilation.

Getting your genetics from a reputable breeder is key to producing gorgeous and potent buds!

There are a variety of ways to increase the terpene content of your buds so you produce cannabis that tastes and smells great, and there are also a couple of common mistakes you should know about that can actually ruin the taste and smell of your buds.

First, before adding any special supplements, you need to make sure you’re giving your plant the correct base nutrients in the flowering stage.

If you haven’t really been paying attention during the drying/curing part of your grow, you should focus here for the greatest gains in quality!

I’m talking about the really really good stuff!

If you want to grow buds that are pink or purple, you must choose the right genetics!

If so, you’re in luck, because today I’m going to teach you 7 tips to consistently growing top-tier quality cannabis buds with effects that will stick in your memory for years to come. Plus, I’ll teach you how to make your cannabis look pretty!

Wait! What about Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – Is It Worth It?

In general, when it comes to feeding nutrients in the second half of the flowering stage, less is more! Keeping nutrient levels low can also improve the taste of your final buds because high nutrient levels are associated with a chemical taste to the buds.

What else to pay attention to during the grow?

The supplements listed above use ingredients that add only tiny amounts of base nutrients (NPK). This means that they have less of a chance of overwhelming your plant with too high levels of nutrients (which can be easy to do if you’re adding a lot of supplements!).

If you want to take your quality to the next level, don’t start with just any clones or seeds. Search for the right, true quality genetics and don’t be afraid to research to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want! Good seeds cost more than bagseed, but the money you pay for quality is worth it, especially when you consider what you’re getting in return!

To Sum it Up:

However, in my experience buying CO2 is not the cheapest way to increase your yields unless you have already invested in a powerful light system. In short, you should have every other part of your grow maxed out before CO2 seems like an option. That’s why for many small-scale growers, adding CO2 can be a waste of money that could be better used in other ways.

When you start a grow with good genetics – from good seeds or clones – your plant has the potential for a high level of quality (yields, potency, resilience). However, it’s nearly impossible to get your buds to reach that potential if you use lights that are underpowered.

Strong, bright light is a crucial part of reaching a strain’s full potential!

Another advantage is that marijuana plants will thrive at higher temps when there’s lots of CO2 in the air.

You probably know that in order to get the best results, your plants need to make it through the majority of their lifecycle without major problems.

Some strains need slightly cooler night temperatures before their buds will turn colors. For example the buds of this Auto Frisian Dew turned bright purple after it started getting below 70°F (21°C) temperatures at night.

New growers also tend to hastily spend money on CO2, supplements or expensive nutrients when controlling the humidity in their setup could make a much bigger difference in their final product.

Genetic engineering is also a powerful tool for probing the function of cannabis genes — information that can then be fed back into a more conventional breeding programme. But beyond the lab, Kovalchuk says, “I don’t believe that genetically engineered cannabis has a future for years to come.”

One advantage of bacteria over other cell-based systems, says Yadav, is that they don’t attach sugars to the proteins that they produce in the same way as yeast and other organisms with an enclosed nucleus do. Those sugar adornments can limit the activity of enzymes that are crucial to the cannabinoid pathway — at least in K. phaffii , as Kayser’s team has shown (B. Zirpel et al. J. Biotechnol. 284 , 17–26; 2018) — which leads to lower yields.

Crystals of purified cannabidiol oil. Credit: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty.

One such patent sent shockwaves through the industry. Granted in 2015 to a company called Biotech Institute in Westlake Village, California, it covers a range of cannabis varieties with appreciable levels of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol.

“Making data public is good because it enlarges the public domain and it speeds up science,” Holmes maintains. But in the emergent cannabis industry, secrecy and intellectual property continue to define battle lines.

Pot’s patent predicament.

At the yields reported, however, Keasling’s platform is not ready for prime time. Dramatic improvements in both the yeast’s efficiency and the fermentation protocol are needed for the biosynthetic approach to be cost-competitive with plant-extracted cannabinoids. Demetrix in Emeryville, California — a company co-founded by Keasling that has secured more than $60 million in funding, making it the best-financed start-up company devoted to lab-based cannabinoid production — is developing the technology further. Demetrix chief executive Jeff Ubersax says that his team has increased the cannabinoid yield by “several orders of magnitude”.

Bacteria also naturally secrete the cannabinoids that they produce into the surrounding medium, from which they can be extracted easily. This phenomenon provides speed and cost advantages because it enables continuous manufacturing, whereas organisms that retain their chemical bounty inside cells must be ‘cracked’ open as part of a batch-production system. Yeast do not typically secrete proteins, but researchers at Librede and elsewhere claim to have engineered this function into the organism.

Part of the appeal of ditching greenhouses for bioreactors boils down to cost. Currently, 1 kilogram of high-quality CBD extracted from plants sells for a wholesale price of more than $5,000. A deal in 2018 between Ginkgo Bioworks, a synthetic-biology company in Boston, Massachusetts, and Cronos Group, a Toronto-based cannabis producer, outlines a plan to manufacture pure CBD and other cannabinoids for less than $1,000 per kg in yeast.

If that happens, the iconic cannabis leaf would no longer accurately represent where the active ingredients come from. Instead, a stainless steel bioreactor might be more apt.

Either way, the goal is the same: to produce cannabinoids more cheaply, efficiently and reliably than by conventional plant cultivation in greenhouses or farmers’ fields. Further benefits of microbial synthesis include the ability to mass-produce rare cannabinoids that are usually present in plants in only trace amounts — or even molecules not found in nature. Transgenic plants can also be engineered for superior resistance to pests and environmental stresses.

A further challenge for using either yeast or E. coli is the toxicity of cannabinoids. Such molecules evolved in plants as a defence mechanism against insects, microorganisms and other biological threats. This means that the chemicals that researchers desire are often deadly to the organisms that have been engineered to make them.

Turning yeast into miniature cannabinoid factories poses considerable challenges. Although Keasling’s protocol involves 16 genetic modifications, the overall efficiency of the procedure came down to a single bottleneck.

Rather than trying to force the production of cannabinoids in microorganisms, some companies are sticking with cannabis plants, but using biotechnology tools to give the crop a boost.

Cronos has singled out a few molecules of particular interest. These include cannabichromene, a rare cannabinoid that is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, and cannabigerol (CBG) — a chemical precursor to THC and CBD with the potential to protect cannabis plants from damage-inducing molecules inside cells. High on the company’s list is also an appetite-suppressing variant of THC called tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). This cannabinoid has medical potential in people who are affected by compulsive overeating disorders, and THCV could appeal to recreational users of cannabis who enjoy the drug’s intoxicating effects but would rather avoid its hunger-inducing properties.

Keasling and his colleagues introduced a series of genetic changes into the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae . By tweaking some yeast genes, and inserting others from bacteria and the cannabis plant, the team created an organism capable of carrying out all the chemical reactions that are involved in cannabinoid production. Feeding the yeast a simple sugar generated low amounts of inactive THC or CBD, which can be converted into their active forms by heating.

Catalysing success.

Nature 572 , S5-S7 (2019)

One obstacle remains consumers’ skittishness about genetically modified crops, which could carry over to a distrust of microorganism-based biosynthesis. “People like their weed, and they will care if their cannabinoids are coming from a genetically modified yeast or a field-grown plant,” says Jordan Zager, co-founder and chief executive of Dewey Scientific, a cannabis biotechnology company in Pullman, Washington.

More from Nature Outlooks.

Trait Biosciences in Toronto has genetically engineered cannabis to enable it to produce cannabinoids throughout the plant, not just in the trichomes, to increase the yield that each plant provides. The company also added enzymes that made the cannabinoids less toxic and made the usually oily molecules soluble in water.

At Ebbu, director of genetic research Robert Roscow has filed patents that cover methods for manipulating cannabinoid synthesis in plants. He uses CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing to delete certain enzymes in the cannabinoid-synthesis pathway that are involved in THC production. This has enabled him to generate cannabis plants that produce only CBD. And by targeting enzymes that are involved in both THC and CBD synthesis, he has produced plants that secrete only CBG.

David Kideckel, a cannabis analyst with financial-services company AltaCorp Capital in Toronto, Canada, describes genetic engineering as a “disrupter” that promises to take a centuries-old agricultural practice into the biotechnology era, with the resulting ripples being felt throughout the cannabis sector worldwide. When it comes to producing cannabis extracts, plants could be supplanted by microbes, and a greater range of cannabinoids could become available for use in medical and recreational products.

Because the enzymes in the cannabinoid pathway are “a little sloppy”, as Keasling puts it, the team could also introduce fatty acids that the yeast would incorporate into cannabinoids. This spawned variants of THC and CBD that are not found in nature. “We created entirely new molecules that might be better therapeutics,” Keasling says.

Cooking up cannabinoids.

Other broad patents have followed, as have legal disputes. In 2018, for example, two Colorado-based firms were embroiled in a lawsuit over whether one company’s liquid formulation of hemp-derived cannabidiol infringed on the patent claims of the other. It was the first high-profile patent challenge in the sector. The case is ongoing.

Under federal law in the United States, the cultivation of cannabis is strictly prohibited. But that hasn’t stopped the growth of the country’s cannabis industry, which has been operating in a quasi-legal fashion since individual states began to allow the sale of cannabis for medical and recreational use more than 20 years ago. Nor has it stopped the US Patent and Trademark Office from granting intellectual-property licences for cannabis breeding and production.

Water solubility also opens up the possibility of creating new kinds of cannabis-infused beverages or edible products. “It’s tasteless and odourless, so it can be blended in a variety of applications,” Sayre explains.

The log-jam involved an enzyme that is needed for CBG production. Researchers characterized the enzyme, known as a prenyltransferase, around a decade ago in a strain of medical cannabis. Initially, Keasling tried to use that cannabis-derived enzyme in yeast, but it didn’t work: the yeast produced no CBG.

Elie Dolgin is a science journalist in Somerville, Massachusetts.

The existence of this ‘entourage’ effect is not universally accepted. But to Russo, “The plant is nature’s design for this panoply of chemicals”.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of cooking up cannabinoids in fermenters, however, is the ability to brew copious amounts of lesser-known cannabinoids that are usually found only in trace amounts in cannabis plants.

Biomanufacturing also offers a level of consistency that is impossible to replicate in plants, which, like most agricultural commodities, are subjected to the weather, pests and other environmental uncertainties. Laboratory-based production is also better for the environment because less energy is needed to run a bioreactor than to power the grow lights and ventilation fans of an indoor cannabis-growing operation. The water pollution and land destruction that is associated with outdoor cannabis cultivation can also be avoided.