NZ cannabis workshop: Content was worth its weight in GOLD

Published on 29/10/2020

During four morning sessions in August, Sonny Moerenhout, Director and Agronomist of Cultivators provided New Zealand participants a riveting growing workshop focused on medical cannabis cultivation.  I would like to thank Cultivators for teaming up with Grower2Grower to allow us to organise and host the Medical Cannabis (MC) growing workshops.  As a greenhouse vegetable advisor, I found these sessions fascinating.  The technical nature of the workshop and plant agronomy information was second to none, and all four sessions were equally captivating.

It is now abundantly clear, from my interpretation, that without greenhouse hydroponic knowledge and obtaining the agronomy skills required for growing MC, in either greenhouse or factory operations, may place companies at a disadvantage.  MC growers that have been fortunate to be involved with high-tech greenhouse vegetable or flower growing will have a distinct advantage when it comes to final production outcomes.  I believe that growers who have not had a practical greenhouse background will find it a very steep learning curve.

There are now more than a handful of companies moving from the research phase to the production phase in New Zealand, currently setting up their growing facilities.  It was pointed out during the first workshop that there is no F1 hybrid cannabis seed currently in the world.  What does this mean? Basically, no two plants germinated from seed will be identical. They can vary phenotypically and in chemical fingerprint. This is an issue.  Every company will have to develop a ‘Mother’ stock.  Cuttings from the mother stock will then be required for propagating and growing to flower/harvest stage. What this also indicates is that it will be very hard for two different companies to provide dry flower product with the exact same composition of cannabinoids unless both companies agree to produce from the same mother stock.

Response from the Workshop

Feedback from the growers, suppliers, educators and researchers that were part of the workshop was overwhelmingly positive. The content and delivery of the presentations was well received.  Cultivators, for sure will be an extremely successful medical cannabis consulting service concentrating on what is possibly the most important piece of the MC process, and that is the actual growing.

Session descriptions

Session one was an introduction to cannabis.  This section covered cannabis sp. ingredients, market overview, cultivation requirements, compliance, quality standards.  Included were basic Anatomy & crop physiology.

Session two covered cannabis systems and planning.  This section covered design of the cultivation facilities (factory or greenhouse), energy consumption, plant density systems, crop planning, substrates, crop planning and facility design.

Session three covered cannabis crop phases.  Included in this tutorial was the four crop phases, genetics, plant architecture, vegetative vs generative plant steering, flower development, when to harvest and yield examples.

Session four covered climate control:  Uniform crop development, assimilate balance, light, temperature, humidity, irrigation and CO2 requirements. Crop measurements, supplementary lighting, greenhouse climate screens, nutrient balance, integrated pest management and diseases including fungal and crop physiological disorders.

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