Colorado legalized medical marijuana back in 2000 with Amendment 20. Of course, recreational (Amendment 64) passed in 2012 when Colorado and Washington became the first two states in the nation to legalize cannabis. But now a considerable number of years have passed since first generation marijuana grows were planted. And as usually happens with technology, processes, and more, people develop more efficient ways of doing things.

Cannabis is no different. The first-gen grows date from about 2007 to 2011. The grow methods utilized during those years were the best ones for that time in the industry.

But what made these marijuana grows so inefficient when compared to today?

I sat down with Kristopher Fowlkes of Pinnacle Consultation to ask “why.” His immense years of experience in the industry have given him first-hand knowledge of cultivation practices – what works and what doesn’t.  

Wholesale Prices

The average wholesale values for marijuana crops about ten years ago were almost three times as high as they are today. This relates to roughly $900 per pound today as compared to $3,200 a pound ten years ago or so. According to Kris, “This allowed for production costs to go unchecked.” The extremely high cost then to produce, disproportionately skewed wholesale prices. Kris said that production costs went as high as $800 per pound.

But as wholesale values began to decline, the more inefficient producers began to slowly realize a fatal flaw in their grow design. It became a case of either closing up shop or changing your method. Growers needed to change their operational approach or alter their facility design. So, grows improved out of necessity. Growers began to experiment with techniques to improve efficiency and production.

Lack of Experience

Budding entrepreneurs in the industry had their marijuana grows designed by inexperienced engineers and architects. Kris knows all too well about the intricacies of cannabis cultivation. A new industry meant many people wanted in even if they didn’t exactly possess the skills and experience to succeed in it. Combine this with others who had money and no knowledge, and the end result is unlikely to be sustainable or successful.

Indoor cultivation facility design was the standard for first-generation grows. But “mistakes were made.” Additionally, fire code standards for cultivation began to change. Just as the risk of shutting down operations shifted growers to alter production methods, safety issues persuaded early growers to adjust their methods and design.

According to Kris, cultivation facilities made other improvements too. These included equipment modifications such as “open-light fixtures versus ducted-light fixtures, environmental controllers, automation devices, watering systems, and computer-controlled components.” These improvements allowed growers to basically create the conditions they desired to maximize the marijuana grows they wanted and needed.

Smart and Efficient Marijuana Grows Begin with Design

When consulting with clients, Kris finds one of the most critical aspects of producing a successful grow is a smart design right from the beginning. To build and operate a well-oiled facility, growers need to think years ahead, not just for the season to come. You are fighting against yourself if you only design with the needs of now. Of course, being clairvoyant would be super helpful. But according to Kris, you don’t need a sixth sense. Instead, you need data. You need Pinnacle Consultation.

But on a serious note. Cultivation is a complicated process involving precision and expertise – gained from experience and a lot of trial and error or acquired when you seek out the services of someone in-the-know. From light levels to humidity, to temperature, and more, grow smarter by looking at the process as a whole first. What is your end-game? Where do you want your grow to be in four years? Work towards that by designing an efficient cultivation strategy today.

Hindsight is 20/20

First-generation grows didn’t have the hindsight we have today. We can take advantage of this extra knowledge by continually improving technique. More efficient methods will soon eclipse the current generation of grows. Let Pinnacle fine-tune your grow and help push it to the next level. Speak with a consultant today.