Five Key Concepts That Every Member of Your Cultivation Team Should Understand
If a company’s chief grower is competent, the remainder of the cultivation crew does not require horticulture knowledge to be hired.
However, in order to avoid costly mistakes, new employee training should focus on immediately getting them up to speed on the principles of commercial plant production.
Make the following five concepts a priority for all new cultivation staff:
1. How to keep accurate records.
Record keeping is essential for everything from troubleshooting to regulatory compliance, yet rookie growers frequently fail to keep any production records at all.
When I visit grow sites that do not prioritise record-keeping, problematic shooting is at best a guessing game and, at worst, a futile exercise.
Examining the fertiliser and watering plan is usually the first step in determining what happened to a crop. In the absence of records, this frequently entails going around on the radio to inquire as to who last fed the plants. When numerous staff split watering responsibilities, the problem becomes even more complicated.
Keeping records for regulatory compliance guarantees that the product is grown in accordance with the company’s SOPs. In heavily controlled markets, the quality assurance department will be unwilling to sell cannabis if it cannot prove that it was grown in accordance with its SOPs. Recalls may be issued for non-compliant products.
Digital records are preferable, but a clipboard and pencil hung in an easily accessible location are preferable to nothing.
2. Testing should be done on a regular basis.
Growers should conduct soil, water, and fertilizer testing on a regular basis to ensure that plants receive appropriate nourishment.
Testing the electrical conductivity (EC) of the fertilizer solution and the fertilizer runoff (leachate) might assist discover potential imbalances inside the plant. When I ask to see the results of these tests, I am occasionally met with a blank expression. “What exactly is EC?” “What exactly do you mean by leachate?”
Allow this to happen to your nurturing team. During the crop cycle, these tests should be performed every two weeks, and the results should be recorded. Ensure that your team understands how to conduct these tests, that they have the necessary tools, and that they understand how to interpret the results.
3. The importance of timing cannot be overstated.
Failure to complete cultivation duties on time might result in poor plant development and increased production costs. Most jobs have a small time frame in which they must be completed, and retroactively addressing plant faults caused by missed timing can eat into your profits.
Young plants that are not spaced properly will grow tall and spindly, necessitating additional labor to support. Mother plants that are not harvested on time grow huge and unwieldy, and they do not produce a sufficient number of healthy cuttings when needed. Failure to release predatory insects or apply pest control agents on time might lead to disease or insect infestation.
Your cultivation team’s sense of timing will help to create a cost-effective operation.
4. Understand when and how to water.
In traditional gardening, there is a phrase that goes, “The one on the end of the hose grows.”
This indicates that the person in charge of making day-to-day irrigation decisions for a crop has the most effect over its health. Large facilities typically divide production among multiple section growers, each of whom is responsible for selecting when to irrigate their plants.
The majority of plant problems are caused by either under or overwatering. A crop that has been continuously waterlogged will develop slowly, yield less, and be more sensitive to pest and disease pressure. Root rot stopped growth, and plant mortality will occur in an overwatered crop that cannot dry out between irrigations.
When a plant reaches 50% of the weight of a fully saturated container, it should be watered. Too much or too little might have a significant impact on the economics of your crop. Make certain that your crew understands when and how to water.
5. Be gentle with yourself.
Growers can forget how sensitive plants are, but they are quickly reminded when their crop begins to show signs of stress.
Plants might be startled if they are not adequately acclimatized and are exposed to something too early. When farmers shift plants from low-light vegetative growth rooms to the dazzling brightness of a bloom room, this is frequent. Plants that are subjected to light and heat stress can begin to wilt within a few hours and turn yellow within 48 hours.
Plants can also be stressed by benign actions performed at the wrong time. Plants can be burned by spray treatments applied in the heat of the day or under intense grow lights. Water droplets can behave like miniature magnifying glasses, focusing light and permanently harming the leaves.
Remind your staff that plants are more delicate than we realize. Ensure that any important changes are adequately planned and that plants are gradually acclimated to the new shift. It is preferable to spend one week carefully acclimating plants rather than three weeks mending damaged ones.
To successfully develop your crop, your staff do not need a four-year horticulture degree, but they should understand basic plant production principles. If your in-house training program focuses on these five key elements, you’ll be well on your approach to building a cultivating dream team.