4 Tips to Ensure Flower Consistency When Growing in Multiple Sites

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Keeping your flower quality consistent across various facilities is critical to brand credibility and loyalty.

August 5, 2021

Photos by David Holmes

Keeping your flower quality consistent across numerous facilities is critical to brand credibility and loyalty. As cannabis evolves from bulk traditional markets to consumer-packaged goods, iconic brands will begin to emerge, some of which are likely already among us today. One hallmark of an iconic brand is consistency, which is exceedingly difficult to execute for a living organism like cannabis. There are a number of factors that flower brands, especially those operating in multiple locations, can control to ensure consistent product quality.

1. Plan and build facilities with similar designs.

Of all the critical systems within a facility, none are more important than the environmental control system. In fact, all the critical variables must be controlled and kept in the same tolerances to ensure consistency. The nine variables you must control are temperature, humidity, lighting, oxygen, water, CO2, nutrients, airflow, and root-zone temperature. (This is also where the “9” in Clade9 comes from.) That said, state and local regulations can create hurdles as restrictions on lighting, energy, and water may differ. For example, Illinois places a restriction on energy usage per square foot of canopy, but this restriction does not exist in Nevada. If you’re a multistate operator (MSO) and/or have plans for multistate expansion, finding the right expert to design consistency across your facilities is paramount.

2. Be selective with genetics, and work with the same genetics across different facilities.

Growing high-quality genetics is critical to a successful cannabis operation, especially a flower brand. Working with the same genetics across multiple locations allows you to optimize the cultivars' production and quality. It can be both time-consuming and risky to introduce new varieties into a new facility, especially if you don’t know or can’t trust the source. If you’re growing from seed, there are the dangers of variability, hermaphroditism or just poor performance. If you’re growing from a clone of unknown source, then you run the risk of disease and pest problems compromising your facility for months, costing millions of operational dollars.

3. Develop SOPs for every stage of the cultivation process.

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) across facilities ensure your plants are grown and harvested the same way, leading to consistent products. There should be SOPs for every stage of cultivation, including quarantine, propagation, mother, veg, flowering, and post-harvest. If your flower room cycle is nine weeks at facility A for cultivar A, it should nine weeks at facility B for the same cultivar.

4. Create a strong management team.

Hire people who are experts in compliance, capital, infrastructure, and communication; this is critical to ensure consistency across facilities. The teams running day-to-day operations should have confidence that management has implemented cross-checks on quality and consistency. C-level recruiting firms are a great resource for operators. Also consider networking events at conferences and perusing LinkedIn.

David Holmes is founder and CEO of Clade9.

Editor's note: This article originally was published in the June 2020 issue of Cannabis Business Times.