As a third-generation greenhouse grower with decades of plant experience, Jake Van Wingerden knows that “good roots make good fruit.” Promoting healthy root growth is key to producing better yields at SunMed Growers, his medical cannabis cultivation company in Maryland.
Since Van Wingerden started using Hemp Pots™ from Blackmore Company a year and a half ago, he’s noticed stark improvements in his crop’s root systems—and the resulting harvests.
Previously, Van Wingerden trialed countless containers, from labor-intensive bags to “plain old plastic pots,” and everything in between. When he saw the Hemp Pots—which Blackmore introduced at the Cultivate trade show in 2019, following the success of its popular Ellepot—Van Wingerden couldn’t wait to compare the patented pot-within-a-pot concept, designed specifically for growing hemp and cannabis mother stock.
“We ran a side-by-side test [against traditional pots], and the results were extremely noticeable,” says Van Wingerden, president of SunMed. “The size of the plant, the girth of the stalk, and the root ball itself in the Hemp Pots was just a night-and-day difference.”
That’s because standard pots don’t accommodate for the aggressive weed-like growth of cannabis plants, he notes. “When you look at a cannabis root ball in a traditional plastic pot, the roots have circled around the pot into one long root that wraps around itself,” he says. “With Hemp Pots, the root hits the end wall and air prunes itself, then breaks. All those breaks create an incredibly dense, fibrous root ball.”
The Hemp Pots feature a patented layered design that exposes the entire root system to air circulation, preventing root circling and girdling while promoting denser feeder roots for better nutrient uptake. This extra layer of air also acts as a cushion against high temperatures—cooling the root base up to 35 degrees F to insulate plants from heat.
“Through our trialing, the roots were definitely cooler and more fibrous in the Hemp Pots,” Van Wingerden says. “Anything that helps create a better root zone inevitably leads to healthier plants, which leads to better bud.”
Van Wingerden was so impressed with the early trial results that he worked with the team to develop a 1.5-gallon container to fit SunMed’s 250,000-square-foot greenhouse cultivation space. Now, his operation uses Hemp Pots exclusively to transplant cannabis liners for finished growing.
“We love working with Blackmore. We’ve always had a good relationship with them,” says Van Wingerden, who has worked with the Blackmore team since he started Tidal Creek Growers, his containerized bedding plant operation, in 2002. “The Hemp Pots are better than anything else out there right now. I’m not even looking anymore, because they work so well.”