After your first few crop cycles, you may have felt like you were getting the hang of things quicker than you’d imagined. Sure, there’s a steep learning curve when growing cannabis, but once you’ve mastered the basics, the process becomes much more doable.
However, as you begin to scale your grow, you’ll start introducing more pieces to the puzzle…
And before you know it, things can suddenly end up feeling very complicated — especially if you don’t know what to look out for.
With an increasing number of to-do’s to keep track of and more cannabis plants to watch over, proper planning becomes one of the most essential pieces of your success.
So where should you begin?
#1 Prepare a Proper Budget
When you start scaling your grow, one of the first and most important things you can do is prepare a solid budget.
If you’re operating a commercial cannabis cultivation facility, your operating expenses must come in under your revenue, so you can safeguard the sizable profit margins you want to see. And what worked when you were planting cannabis seeds in a small, dark room in your apartment will no longer cut it for a larger crop.
Take into account how much you’re going to spend dealing with ongoing costs, including electricity, rent, water, and nutrients.
And follow this golden rule of growing at scale: always forecast for where the bottom of the market might be… then build your budget around that prediction.
This way, you’re protecting your profit margins and setting yourself up to be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed.
Now, some of your calculations will reflect what’s more or less a fixed cost, and won’t require much mental fortitude.
Others, like electricity and nutrients, will require a bit more finesse.
Let’s take a deeper look.
How to Calculate Electricity Costs For Your Cannabis Grow
To calculate how much you’ll need to budget for electricity, start by adding up the theoretical electricity draw of your appliances throughout the grow.
You’ll want to consider things like lighting, HVAC units, fans, etc.
After you’ve added up those numbers, consult your electricity provider to get costs per Kilo-watt hour. For example, a 1000-watt HPS will draw 1 Kilowatt per hour. If you’re paying 9 cents to run your lights for 12 hours a day, you’ll end up spending $32.40 on lighting costs for the month.
And of course, during the vegetative stage, you’ll be running your lights for at least 18 hours a day. So make your calculations accurately reflect your entire grow light schedule as you shift from veg to flowering.
Some other things to consider…
- Your electricity provider may charge different rates for different times of the day, so you’ll want to align your grow light schedule with non-peak hours.
- Rates may also fluctuate based on your total usage. (Some companies may increase or decrease the rates contingent on how much electricity is drawn.)
- LED lights consume up to 70% less powder than HPS lights. However, they cost more on the front end. So once your have the capital to afford them the long term investment pays off.
- Depending on the jurisdiction, some companies offer rebates on LED lights, as well as incentives for new commercial cultivation facilities like deferring cost finances or factoring in rebates on the front end.
Now that you know what to consider when it comes to lighting, take a look at…
How to Calculate Nutrient Costs
Before you start your next crop cycle, you’ll also want to determine how you can maximize ROI from your fertilizer budget. To determine how much you can spend on nutrients, estimate the volume of nutrient water your plants will use on a weekly basis. Once you’ve got that information, utilize the tools provided by your nutrient company to gather totals.
For example, the Advanced Nutrients web calculator allows you to plan your cannabis feeding schedule for prime productivity while determining exactly how much those nutrients will run you.
We also recommend you download the BudLabs app, which makes it easy to tailor your nutrient regimen to your objectives – and optimize your cultivation budget.
And most importantly, make sure to check out cost-effective solutions that don’t force you to sacrifice crop quality. For example, Advanced Nutrients’ Sensi Professional Series is a great option for cannabis growers who want to get the most from their crops at an economical price point.
After getting a handle on your operating expenses, you’ll have a good idea of where you can cut corners to increase cash flow… Or where you’ve got some room to augment your facility for increased efficiency and maximum results. Once you’ve established yourself as a commercial facility, you’ll need to invest in an automatic nutrient dosing system to eliminate any human error and ensure your plants absorb the right nutrient ratios. Read more about auto-dosing systems here.
Next, you’ll need to start thinking about timing.
#2 Plan Your Plant’s Life Cycle
All of us growers want the same thing…
To spend as little time as possible sitting around WAITING for our plants to flower…
And spend more time actually flowering.
In order to optimize your grow for the most productive crop cycle possible, it’s important to practice good time management.
Start seedlings or clones on schedule, so they’ll be ready to enter your grow room shortly after you wrap up your last harvest. This can be somewhat tricky to nail down because different strains require different amounts of time to veg. We recommend you take notes every time you start a new strain, so it will be easier to optimize the process for your future harvests.
If you’re still dialing in your cloning technique, efficient planning may require you to take extra clones so that you are not left stranded in the case of failure.
It may take some trial and error to get there, but with proper time management and some practice, you’ll have your cannabis grow cycle running like clockwork.
Now, when scaling a grow, dialing in the details comes with territory. If you’re worried you’ll forget to complete an important task while your cannabis plants are growing, consider using a tool like the BudLabs app to stay on track. Many growers use it to set reminders when critical dates are approaching, so they miss a beat from seed to senescence.
Once you’ve got the plant life cycle dialed in, you’ll want to consider investing in…
#3 Make Compliance a Priority
Watching big, juicy, potent buds burst from colas?
That’s a cannabis grower’s dream come true.
Ensuring complete compliance with cultivation regulations?
Well… Without proper planning, that can quickly become the stuff of nightmares.
Fact is, if you want to claim your stake in the cannabis cultivation industry, you MUST stay compliant.
And that’s exactly where Seed-to-Sale software comes into play.
When you hold a license for cannabis cultivation, you’re required to track and report certain activities to stay compliant.
When it comes to mandatory tracking, you’ll often be asked to keep records of …
- A pesticide application log
- A visitor’s Log
- Plant tag registration/inventory management
- Costs of Goods Sold (COGS)
- Operating Expenses
- Crop Loss
- IPM applications…
Among other legal requirements that could easily end up being audited.
With seed-to-sale software, you’ll have a tool to track your cannabis plants throughout their life cycle. And best of all, you won’t have to worry about losing track as your grow expands in size. Most seed-to-sale software integrates with hardware that can easily capture all the data you need to stay compliant.
Plus, Seed-to-Sale Software Can Help You Optimize for Success
And for cannabis cultivation, the benefits of this technology stretch far beyond staying aligned with regulatory requirements.
You can consider your seed-to-sale software the business intelligence hub of your cannabis business. It’s where you can aggregate thousands of different data points to get a real-time understanding of what’s happening in your grow, from recent sales trends to yield predictions.
And with all this information at your fingertips, you’ll soon be able to recognize key patterns across many different areas to optimize your grow.
A good seed-to-sale platform allows you to…
- Analyze cultivation metrics (best-performing strains etc.)
- Manage inventory (and reduce the chance of grow room theft)
- Get a grip on your operating expenses
- Understand and optimize workflow
Many growers consider their seed-to-sale software to be an integral part of their success, helping them maximize yields, optimize for efficiency, and scale a larger grow.
If you’re a licensed producer or you’re building up to a large-scale grow, seed-to-sale software will help you to both stay compliant and achieve your goals.
Finally, you’ll want to keep one last step in mind for successful cannabis cultivation…
#4 Always Have a Plan B!
When growing cannabis plants, it’s important to allow some flexibility for unforeseen circumstances that might crop up in your grow.
If you’re growing cannabis outdoors, you may need to start your season a little bit later than you had planned, depending on your region’s weather conditions. Of course, you can use resources to plan like an outdoor grow calendar, but just be aware that those dates are subject to change at the whims of mother nature.
If you’re an indoor grower dialing in a new cannabis strain, you may discover that it requires a bit longer in the vegetative stage than you thought it would.
By preparing for the possibility of these kinds of variables and building out a Plan B, you’ll still be able to smoothly navigate from seed to senescence… and churn a profitable crop.
As you can see, successful cannabis cultivation takes proper planning.
And once you’ve dialed in the basics, like choosing the right seeds, setting up your room, and mixing nutrients, there’s a world of nuances that you’ll need to track.
But the more proactive you are in your preparation, the easier it will become to lock in a growing operation plan that works for your facility.
And always remember, the more committed you are to getting the details right, the more likely your plants are to reward you with huge, potent, high-value buds that command top dollar on the marketplace.
Watch more about Commercial Cannabis Growing on our YouTube Channel