Copperstate Farms is the largest permitted greenhouse in North America dedicated to medicinal cannabis. LumiGrow is the sole lighting provider for the facility located in Snowflake, Arizona. Fife Symington purchased the 40-acre greenhouse from Nature Sweet Tomato Plant in September 2016. The facility currently employs 230 people and is one of the biggest employers in Snowflake.
Since cannabis is a short-day plant, supplemental lighting is crucial for growing the plant year-round. Short-day plants flower when they receive less than 12 hours of daylight. Copperstate must extend their plants’ photoperiod during the winter to keep them in the vegetative growth stage. Additionally, Copperstate’s facility does not have an HVAC system. This made it critical to go with a lighting system that minimized heat output.
“HPS would have been prohibitively hot,” says Jacob Cataldo, Copperstate Farms’ Assistant Grower, “It would have cranked the heat up 5 to 10 degrees, especially with the number of lights we needed. That’s why we went LED in the first place.”
When Copperstate learned about LumiGrow, they were pleased to find that in addition to providing a high-quality LED fixture with adjustable spectrum, LumiGrow has years of experience implementing large-scale installations for rapidly-growing facilities. Copperstate was also impressed with LumiGrow Research’s commitment to developing and maintaining strong customer relationships and providing their customers with the latest horticultural research.
“We felt that LumiGrow was a perfect match,” says Jacob, “On top of being energy efficient, [their fixture] is intelligently designed. There are so many applications when it comes to spectrum and controllability. Because [cannabis] is such a new industry, we wanted a company who is pushing the boundaries of their field, who would help us push the boundaries of our field. They’ve proved us right ever since.”
Additional revenue from 15% reduction in turn time
Copperstate installed 875 Pro 650e fixtures with LumiGrow’s smartPAR software, for precision greenhouse lighting control. The first room that Copperstate deployed LumiGrow fixtures in was their 100,000 square foot vegetative growth area. They provided the plants with 3 hours of supplemental lighting on top of the 15 hours of sunlight. Copperstate’s LumiGrow-lit plants were ready to be put in the flowering bays 2 weeks sooner than their unlit counterparts. This 15% reduction in turn time allows Copperstate to fit in an extra crop each year. Even in a place like Arizona with excellent light intensity and an annual average of 272 sunny days, supplemental lighting made financial sense for Copperstate Farms.
Upcoming spectrum trials to increase flower quality
Jacob also is excited about Copperstate’s upcoming spectrum trials, which he hopes will increase their annual yields further. The plan is to use LumiGrow’s blue spectrum to reduce internodal spacing during the vegetative growth phase. Less internodal space allows the plant to produce thicker colas, with more tightly stacked flowers. These flowers remain densely packed even after the drying process. In addition to producing high-value, high-quality buds, thicker colas are also easier to harvest, hang, and process. These quality improvements and processing efficiency gains all benefit Copperstate’s bottom line.
Jacob is also interested in using their LumiGrow software to implement a blue spectrum treatment during the plants’ flowering phase to increase terpene retention. Recent research has shown that terpenes do far more than provide cannabis strains with their distinct aromas — specific terpenes have various medicinal properties, ranging from anti-inflammatory to appetite suppressant.
Pushing the boundaries of cannabis cultivation
Jacob believes that spectrum can also be used to improve other biochemical profiles.
“Since light quality affects CBD and THC [retention], there’s no reason it wouldn’t work with rarer cannabinoids,” says Jacob, “In my opinion, we’re going to see the same thing happen with those cannabinoids as happened with terpenes, where we find all of these beneficial secondary chemicals.”