By Geoffrey Taylor, MA, Hemp Contributor, Valley Ag Voice
Up and down the Central Valley, indoor cannabis cultivation is reigning supreme in producing top tier product for California’s booming legal cannabis industry. Cities throughout the San Joaquin Valley from Sacramento to Arvin are allowing licensed operators to build out highly sophisticated horticultural operations in industrial and commercial zones throughout the region. Two Tulare County cities, Farmersville and Lindsay, are joining cities like Arvin and Coalinga as economic hot spots for a rapidly expanding segment of the industry that demands premium indoor cannabis flower.
“It’s absolutely the natural choice for many growers because climate or setting doesn’t allow for other methods of growing, but it’s also the preferred method for those seeking to have the highest amount of environmental control throughout the production process,” said Travis Copeland, Owner of Unico Ag LLC, and operator of a licensed indoor cultivation facility in Southern California. “If you’re growing for the cannabis connoisseur marketplace, you’re growing indoor flower in highly controlled environments that ensure the highest possible quality, highest potential cannabinoid spectrum and highest potential pricing in the marketplace.”
In California’s highly regulated legal cannabis marketplace, all cannabis cultivation is overseen by California Department of Food and Agriculture, or CDFA’s CalCannabis program, and all aspects of cultivation fall directly under this jurisdiction. However, growers statewide are also subject to a variety of other agencies including the Bureau of Cannabis Control, Department of Pesticide Regulation, water agencies, local agencies and other entities that may be directly tied to the grower’s location and environment.
Needless to say, the layers of regulation can be daunting to many cannabis producers, regardless of their preferred grow method, but aren’t difficult enough to deter eager investors and skilled growers alike from producing the world’s finest cannabis right here in the Golden State. Much of this premium grade indoor grown cannabis flower comes directly from warehouses and grow facilities dotting the urban and suburban landscapes of our state.
Many growers utilize different methods but have many commonalities in the basic equipment needs of their operations including indoor grow lights, ventilation, CO2, and other components essential to creating the preferred production environment for the grower and the cultivars to be produced within the environment.
While some indoor growers still opt to use soil in their commercial applications, most indoor growers have adopted hydroponic growing applications as their preferred method of production indoors. In addition to this, indoor cannabis production traditionally has substantially lower yields than outdoor or greenhouse production, it does produce a higher quality and more in-demand product that demands a much higher wholesale price than sungrown or greenhouse flower.
“The quality, purity, environmental control, all of it comes as a direct result of the grower having immense control over every part of the growing cycle. It’s equal parts science and art in many cases because you can get all the plant science and nutrients and everything correct, but it takes soul for the indoor grower to produce what they produce,“ said Brett Hitchcock, a representative of cannabis brands Stick-e-Vape, a Los Angeles based cannabis brand, and Tradecraft Farms, a Los Angeles-based indoor cultivation company. “You see it reflected in the products, in the complexity of the flower structure, the aroma and the flavor of the finished flower. Growers using indoor methods are creating nature in such a way that it allows their plants the ideal conditions to produce the ideal harvest.”
One local example of a state-licensed and regulated indoor cultivation operation is 420 Kingdom in the city of Arvin. The company operates tens of thousands of square feet of indoor cultivation space and utilizes an aeroponic method of growing to ensure premium quality and build strong and healthy root structures in the plants they produce. The operation’s in-house Raven brand cannabis regularly tests above 30 percent cannabinoids and has a broad spectrum of terpenes reflective of higher quality indoor cannabis flower.
“For growers who want to produce the finest possible product with the utmost environmental control and attention to detail, indoor cannabis cultivation is the only way to achieve those goals,” said Copeland. “For some smaller growers, the upfront costs of building and operating a legally compliant indoor cannabis production facility are cost-prohibitive but for those seeking to enter the marketplace with a premium, high end product, there is no other way than to enter the indoor cannabis production market.”
As the City of Bakersfield and County of Kern lag behind their peers across the valley in allowing for regulated and taxed commercial cannabis activity, the opportunity to harness this new green economy and to use indoor cannabis production as an economic tool in our region is immense. With a highly qualified agricultural workforce, ample industrial and commercial real estate and the opportunity to generate valuable state and local tax revenue from cannabis industry operators, indoor cultivation is proving to be a valuable tool for economic growth in communities across the valley.