Cannabis “Starts” Operation in Salinas (Click Here for Spanish Version)
I went on a tour of the Commercial Cannabis operation, Pacific Reserve Nursery in Salinas, with Dustin Cline and Eric Hollister, of Keiki’s nursery, today (2/7/2018). James Fryn, a consultant and partner with Pacific Reserve, lead the way. Pacific Reserve started 2 years ago and so is a mature example of what a G-4 Agricultural permit can acheive in the City of Half Moon Bay. A G-4 permit will allow growers to grow “starts”. Starts are the little plants, like you get at your local nursery, to start your tomatoes or your herbs. “Cuts” are the branches that are cut from the adult “mother” plants, and then transplanted and rooted.
Below are the Pacific Reserve greenhouses that are being refurbished for growing cannabis starts in Salinas. The shot below shows the dirt that must be covered.
Tacking and taping the plastic to cover the soil.
Below is a green house whose floor has been prepared, but no plants installed. Stages of development.
This next greenhouse, holds starts that are ready to be picked up by growers. Tagged for variety. Pacific Reserve grows 30 varieties of cannabis. And they have to keep track of every plant. From seed to consumption. This is called “track and trace“.
Below is the rooting room.
The starts start with cuts from the Mothers. They are carefully cut and put into water buckets to maintain hydration. Below, these workers take each cut and rough the stem with a razor blade, dip into proprietary rooting mixture, before placing the stem in a propagating block.
Below are the grow trays for the baby starts. Temperature, humidity and cleanliness are critical. And watering by hand.
Then they go here, below. They acclimate. This is called “hardening off”. “Hardening off” is generally the process of moving plants outdoors (or to a larger grow area) to gradually introduce them to the direct sunlight, dry air, and cold nights, so that seedlings become accustomed to strong sunlight, cool nights and less-frequent watering over a 7-10 day period. Notice the nutrient rich green substrate planting block.
Roofing. On right above is a UV transmitting corrugated acrylic sheeting, with netting (on left) to reduce any burning of the starts. Fans are everywhere for ventilation to control heat. LED bulbs are used to extend the Photo periods of the plants to prevent them from flowering. Commercial flower growers (the next stage in the cannabis chain) mostly use 10 times more light for light supplementation for producing flowers. Pacific Reserve prides themselves on being able to customize for each customer.
From one end of the main greenhouse. 175,000 total sq ft, but 120,000 sq ft right here. The Mothers are way down there at the other end. At this end are the 1 gallon and 3 gallon starts. Growers are so differentiated, some like them small, some big, depending on their business model, or maybe its a hobby. Some will become Mothers, too.
These are the heaters. Fans move the air, the roof is open. Lights are on 18 hours a day. To force the plant to flower, lights are reduced to only 12 hours. Not here. Cannabis is light sensitive to flower. Interestingly, Orchids are temperature sensitive to bloom. Wait until I show you the orchid nursery.
The Mothers. Panoramic view. iphone7. I’m standing in the middle of the greenhouse, now. They use the Mothers for cuts for about 8 months
Army of mothers and Sled Dog leads the way. 30 strains.
Tittles (Tango and Skittles), Shlemons and Tangie, Lemon Sugar Kush and Miss USA. You think Craft beer and wine have a corner on branding? And then there’s the coy snub of Miss USA to you know who.
Pacific Reserve is working on new strains, as well, including Hemp strains. Great for seizures and pain. This is cutting edge bio-tech. This just the beginning of an industry.
Soils are bio-tech and highly proprietary. Coco Husk is popular for maintaining moisture. The white stuff is pearlite which growers are phasing out in favor of the coco husk or coco coir. The perlite is technically a silicate which is used everywhere to retain water.
They are questioning everything and coming up with new answers. Pacific Reserve’s James Fryn leads the exploration with his family’s 100 years of Dutch (Holland) flower greenhouse experience.
Here is James speaking with Dr. Ajit S. Nehra, founder of Cosmic Connections. Ajit had developed a propriety soil called JAWS (Just Add Water) which feature coco coir. By only having to water, workers do not have to expose themselves to fertilizers and labor is reduced during the grow.
This is from Ajit’s website. “Coco coir peat is the ‘coir fiber pith’ or ‘coir dust’ produced as a bi-product when coconut husks are processed for the extraction of the long fibers from the husk. Coco coir peat is the binding material that comes from the fiber fraction of the coconut husk. It is a pure natural and organic biodegradable material. Coco peat is an eco-friendly growing medium which improves soil properties. Coir peat can replace peat moss as the best growing material for gardening and other horticultural needs. It is economical and eco-friendly alternative for peat moss.”
Artichokes out the back. The old Salinas agriculture. Cannabis work is much easier on the body. My next post will be where James takes us to the number one Orchid grower in California ~ Floricultura Nursery. There you will see the future of cannabis automation. Software responds to temperature, light and humidity moving the entire grow along an assembly line. Automated watering. More high-tech promise.