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Setup of a 35,000 sq/ft grow facility - A fun project - Need feedback please

Miraghoul

New Member
Hey all,

We are currently in the build out stage of a licensed large scale grow facility and the options and choices are staggering and I am hoping to get the opinions of others FAR more knowledgeable than myself on the build out.

Parameters
- 20,000 sq/ft facility footprint (ability to mezzanine for increased area)
- 4-6 crop cycles per annum
- Optimum (or at least decent quality of product)
- Yields of .75 - 1g per watt of power usage
- Annual Yield of between 5000lb to 11,000lb of product (11k being enhanced yield of 1g/watt at 6x harvests)
- minimum number of plants for maintenance
- Minimize overhead labor
- Have a superior quality of product

What we have to work with

- A large commercial budget
- no limit to technology and setup implementation
- Design to suit
- choice of lighting, Hydro, medium, nutrient, CO2, and HVAC option
- no legal limitations, everything is licensed and transparent to regulatory


Facts

Area / sq footage

- As an initial comment on space planning..... it is absolutely amazing how much aisle space and work area takes away from your grow area. It's enough to make you cry when trying to maximize yields.

- facility template is 20,000 sq feet however using the vertical space and catwalks etc... we plan on approaching a total physical grow (plant coverage) area of 12-14,000 sq/ft of canopy

- Units are divided in to 4x8 areas with multiple units adjacent to each other

- Area will be divided have been advised to have separate clone/seed areas, curing / drying, trimming, production, shipping, maintenance, utility and about 15% office.

Room Setup

- Initially we were looking at a very large area and few strains and trying to match strain grow times for veg and flower. It's proving....very limiting.
- Looks like we've opted for separate veg and flower rooms with the possibility of a separate veg room feeding multiple flowering rooms. The idea would be a rotating grow with relatively short veg cycles feeding multiple flowering rooms for a staggered harvest.
- The above would also allow us to use optimal lighting for veg and Flowering separately as well aas vary nutrient solutions appropriate for each stage.
- separate area for seedling and cloning, probably utilizing T5 grow lights
- Each area would maintain its own specific environmental conditions for what it was growing, including varying each flowering room slightly based on the strain. this would also apply for nutrients.
- Basically each grow room can operate as its own micro climate.

Lighting

- Again, everything is to maximize yield per square foot and yield per annum
- For each Unit (4x8 area) we need to decide between 2x 1000W HID or 4x 600w HID (whatever will give greatest yield per Sq.Ft.
- Optimally height of each grow unit/rack is not going to be more than 8 feet but we can go higher if necessary (9 foot)
- Lighting will be height adjustable
- With all the claims we will be experimenting with LED, plasma, different reflector designs, and augmented lighting and will publish all results for the community. So we will have dedicated experimental yield areas with actual monitoring, controls and results posted. However to satisfy our investment model we will be going tried and true HID lighting and if our experimentation yields greater results we will switch or expand the grow area based on the best technology. The question is what HID configuration to start given this is a "from scratch" commercial setup.
- we can move to a 5x5 setup but again everything seems to indicate that a 4x4 under 1x 1000w or 2x 600w would provide the best yields.

LED Lighting

- We are going to give it a shot.
- well aware there are crappy products on the market so going to test some grows side by side with HID in a controlled environment and post comparative results.
- There are claims of LED giving greater yields than HID with less power consumption (we're going to put the manufacturers to the test)
- There is no LED with a vent cooling technology that has proven results. As such if we decide to go CO2 (discussed below) we may have a serious issue with venting heat from the grow area given we will also vent the CO2
- Ultimately I love technology and would like nothing more than a facility with 100% LED implementation. Simply put I think it would be insanely cool and efficient. So we'll experiment, see how we can work with Yields and the HVAC system on a larger scale, with the "Hope" we will be pleasantly surprised
- May just end up using LED supplementary lighting

Hydroponics
- Automation
- as low maintenance as possible
- whatever contributes to high yields
- scalable for a large commercial operation
- Looks like we are going with an ebb and flow system, semi customized with larger pumps, and reservoirs
- our thinking is that its lower maintenance and if we have to move plans from room to room for separate veg and flower, a consistent design wouldn't be too bad
- We've been told Rockwool is the best medium for yield, however are also looking at expanded clay pellets
- We can implement anything from reservoir chillers to aerators
- Ultimately what is the best commercial grade large scale hydro system ?
- Is it worth looking at aeroponics or an alternative system to the Ebb and flow for large scale implementation ?
- Thoughts on Medium and substrate matter for a large commercial grow ?

Strains
We've researched a number of strains ultimately they need to be:
- Easy to grow and maintain
- High demand (consumer and pharma)
- Higher the Yield the better
- Low time to market

As much as we would LOVE to produce a rare strain that is well loved and takes 6 months to mature to market, the numbers just don't work.

Ultimately we are looking for around 12 strong strains for a reasonable variety.

CO2 and a CVE setup

We plan on using CO2 however I do not know if regulatory will allow us to. There may be a Health requirement to cycle air regularly in which case we cannot maintain a closed environment and this would be wasted. Lets hope we can.

- If we can use CO2 we will
- Most likely for veg stage and 3/4 the estimated flower stage


Yields
So much on this all over the place but one thing seems constant. The longer you veg, the better the root system, and ultimately the stronger the yield in flowering.

- looking for .75 to 1g per wattage of light used.
- will use whatever technology, grow systems, lighting, and combination thereof to obtain this
- it seems as though hydro, medium can achieve a +30% yield and faster veg time
- It seems CO2 augmentation will also ultimately yield 25-30%
- Super-cropping, pinching, pruning, and plant maintenance should greatly increase yields depending on strain
- combining grow systems and enhancements should surpass our targets (theoretically at least)

Drying and Curing

- Combined Drying and Curing room
- Multiple room setup
- Drying / Curing screens racked open air
- Temp and humidity controls for the entire room (industrial dehumidifiers)

Our goal is to have the best quality bud which means a really slow dry and good cure. Not going to skimp here

Packaging

Honestly, haven't looked in to this yet. Seems as though glass jars are best for storage but we will be using some form of plastic container.

I'd like to use vacuum sealed bags for storage of end product to client.
- Is vacuum sealing viable ?
- Once vacuum sealed is there any chance mold or mildew can develop ?
- Does all curing stop once vacuum sealed ?
- is it better to just use plastic pharma jars ?

Trimming - Hand VS Machine

- Hand is always better but we are going to have a huge amount of BUD to trim
- Thinking of going a barrel trimmer but I don't want to sacrifice product quality

Any thoughts or Ideas ?

Technology

We will look at any technologies to assist in our project and goals. We've seen:

- Trimming equipment
- Industrial Curing systems
- Water treatment systems


The anti flame section

I am well aware that I have emphasized time and yield and such, and that Yields are aggressive compared to a home grow, AND that strains have everything to do with the quantity of product produced. Having said this we simply want to do the best we can given the space and budget we have. That means:

- The best quality Bud possible maintaining very high standards
- The highest yields possible from the facility per year
- Experiment with different technologies and methods
- And have allot of fun doing the business.

Any input or suggestions would be most welcome. We are working with consultants, legal teams, grow room designers, HVAC and design engineers, Hydroponic supply companies, and pretty much everyone and everything we need to make it work.....

BUT.... (and this is the big BUT....)

I have found that in life there is no substitute from hardcore knowledge and when people know what they're doing and do it for years making mistakes and having great success, that's way better than someone with paper experience behind their desk.

It should also be obvious I don't know what the hell I'm doing and I'm relying on people ALLOT smarter than I am to provide the necessary expertise. My job is to simply put all the pieces together and make it happen :)

So if anyone cares to help or give some advice on our little project we would LOVE to hear from you so you can help make it a success, and have allot of fun doing it while avoiding some major pitfalls.

Cheers
 

Miraghoul

New Member
Agreed, this is major initiative, although not as large as some others out there.
Think along the lines of the perfect grow environment on a small scale, and replicate x30 :)
 

Calyx Hunter

New Member
It all sounds awesome. I dream of quitting my job and doing something like this. You wouldn't happen to be in Colorado and need some more help would you? I have 20 years growing experience but only on a personal scale. I understand cannabis very well and I'm all about maximizing the quality of my buds. After reading through your setup I would have tons of suggestions based on your goals.

For each for 4X8 area I would go with 2 600 Watt HID's. I am currently using 1 air cooled 600 Watt for a 4X4 area and I think it is perfect.

Vaccuum sealing is totally viable. You need to make sure the bud is perfectly dried and cured before sealing it for long term storage. If properly dried and cured then vaccuum sealed and kept in a dark place the bud will continue to cure for years. If the bud is sealed wet at all then there will be a chance for mold.

For your scale you would need to hire a staff for hand trimming. I'd guess 4-7 people for hand trimming. I would recommend a machine trimmer though. A good purchase one time will save you man hours in the long run (you will definately not want too many people knowing about your grow). 1 person could could run trimming with a machine.

Your setup sounds like a dream come true. I'd love to discuss it further with you. What do you think of my initial suggestions?
 

David Bowman

New Member
While I agree with CH that you want to properly dry your harvest before curing, most molds require oxygen to reproduce so vacuum sealing would still work in most cases regardless of the buds' moisture content. If you want to ensure no mold grows, you could first introduce pure CO2 into the bud bag, expelling all of the oxygen and then vacuum seal the buds as mold cannot grow in a CO2 environment.
 

Calyx Hunter

New Member
While I agree with CH that you want to properly dry your harvest before curing, most molds require oxygen to reproduce so vacuum sealing would still work in most cases regardless of the buds' moisture content. If you want to ensure no mold grows, you could first introduce pure CO2 into the bud bag, expelling all of the oxygen and then vacuum seal the buds as mold cannot grow in a CO2 environment.

Have you ever had completely dried buds in a vacuum sealed container produce mold? Have you personally ever expelled oxygen by introducing CO2 to a bud container?

Actually Colorado High the buds moisture content will totally dictate whether mold can grow. With no moisture mold cannot grow. Maybe you are also not aware that vacuum sealing removes the majority of the oxygen thereby further reducing the chance for mold. How many people here have ever done it themselves or have received a package of bud sealed with CO2?

Actually you should seal your buds and store them in outer space. There's no mold there.
 

David Bowman

New Member
No, I haven't personally tried my suggestions CH, they were just some ideas I had that I wanted to contribute to the discussion. I'm just going by some reading I did on the subject of mold growth and oxygen requirements. If moisture content totally dictates when mold can grow, then why doesn't it grow in soda cans? It's due to the CO2 content, so moisture isn't the only thing controlling mold growth. There are some molds that can grow in the low oxygen environments and while vacuum sealing removes a significant amount of oxygen, it is not 100% effective and by itself may not stop mold growth, thus my idea of CO2 replacement. They do the same thing with nitrogen and chip bags to preserve freshness.
 

TheTikiGod

New Member
No state issues a license for commercial cannabis production without a large amount of information provided, including a SOP that meets state guidelines.
The questions you are asking are not the questions of anyone who has obtained a legal business license. You would have to provide answers to some of your exact questions before being considered for a license.
 
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