4 tips for maximizing cannabinoid distillation

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In order for your greenhouse to perform at its best, you need to plan properly in advance to ensure that the structure and its components are well maintained and functioning properly.

Here you will find tips for ensuring adequate air circulation, cleanliness of facilities, rating of fixtures and shade curtains, as well as a special “lightning trick” of various tips for extra efficiency.

Air flow management

1. Air circulation in a greenhouse—A concept distinct from ventilation—is best achieved with horizontal airflow (HAF) or vertical airflow (VAF) fans designed for this purpose. Avoid using standard fans. HAF fans should be properly sized for the cubic feet of air mass and installed in sufficient numbers to create a circular current in your greenhouse. Air has weight, so momentum will carry it with little energy from the fans once it circulates in this pattern.

The total blower capacity in cubic feet per minute for this circulation model should be one-quarter of the greenhouse volume, according to “Greenhouse Engineering,” a Cooperative Extension publication by Robert A. Aldrich and John W. Bartok, Jr. Ideally, these fans should be built into your control system so that they stop when the fans cool the room. Otherwise, they will create turbulence that disrupts the parallel flow through the greenhouse, reducing the cooling efficiency.

The advantage of VAF fans is that they can pull air upward through the canopy, reducing stagnant air in the lower foliage. Typical cannabis installations are a fan for an area of ​​30 to 50 feet in diameter (707 square feet to 1,964 square feet). The bottom of VAF fans should be at least 3 feet above the maximum height of the canopy. VAF and HAF fans should not be used at the same time.

2. Air circulation speed should be at least 50 feet per minute (ft / min). At the very least, you should see some float in your leaves at their maximum height and density.

Cleanliness

3. Keep the walls and roof clean, but don’t ask your team to clean them. The estimated light transmission loss of dirty greenhouse roofs ranges from 5-10%.

Here’s a scary but true story: At the university greenhouse that I managed for 20 years, I established a policy that no one other than me could have their feet more than 6 feet off the ground on a ladder or scaffolding. It was after being shaken by news that an employee who was cleaning the glass roof of another university facility was seriously injured when she fell through the glass and landed on the metal benches inside.

4.I would recommend hiring a professional and assured greenhouse service team to clean your coatings if you have a wide range. For homes connected to gutters, robotic units (which roll along tops, scrub and rinse) can be purchased. If you are taking on this task, rent electric elevators and have your staff use them for pressure washing glass or rigid plastic, at the very least. Avoid using ladders or “walking in the gutters” as there is nothing to attach to for your safety.

5. Clean the side walls, inside and out, annually. Glass or rigid plastic with heavy scale deposits can be pretreated with a sulfuric acid product approved for greenhouse use prior to pressure washing. For routine window cleaning, use glass cleaner and squeegees on the extension handles for best results. Avoid getting cleaning solutions on the plants.

Light fixtures

6. Tracking your bulbs’ operating hours, whether in your written diary or using the control computer, will ensure you change them before their output drops below 80% (20,000 at 24,000 hours, typically). An old HPS bulb will often appear darker orange when turned on than a newer bulb. HPS bulbs that turn off sporadically every few minutes should be replaced immediately, before they burn out the fixture’s igniter. Devices with noisy, buzzing transformers are a real nuisance to your employees, who have to work in the room for several hours a day. Defective devices can be repaired, but only by someone certified to discharge a capacitor and work with high voltages.

Tip-Top-Shape Shading Systems

The use of motorized shading systems is an excellent way to regulate light intensity and the integral of daily light; But these systems are expensive to repair, as the labor costs to do even the smallest repair are many times the cost of the component, especially if you need an electric lift to reach it.

7. Therefore, it pays to purchase quality fabric and maintain the system regularly. Buy fabric from established manufacturers. Compare warranties and ask if the warranty is prorated – which means each year the replacement value goes down – and also ask if the warranty will reimburse you or just allow a discount on your next purchase. These questions will give you a good idea of ​​who is behind their products. (Bonus tip: Consider a white fabric designed to diffuse light, as research suggests this will increase the number of photons reaching the lower foliage.)

8. Lubricate the rack and pinions annually with dry molybdenum aerosol lubricant spray. Avoid grease, as it allows dust and grime to build up and gum up the gears.

9. Inspect your curtains to make sure circulation fans are not blowing directly on them. This will cause them to constantly vibrate on the support wires, wearing them out quickly.

The “Lightning Round”: more tips!

Below are some other tips, which do not fit perfectly into the other categories, for efficient building and operation:

10. Consider contracting out annual maintenance to an experienced greenhouse company. This solves safety concerns and allows you and your staff to focus on growing and delivering quality products to your customers. It will ensure that maintenance is done, as these tasks are usually not prioritized, despite the best intentions.

11. The same dry molybdenum spray lubricant listed for the shade curtain rack and pinions should be applied annually to the ventilation rack and pinions.

12. A rivet gun will help you fix loose louvers.

13. Apply flooring to the cement, making it resistant to algae build-up. The room must be empty and dry to apply the coating, and it takes two to three days for proper application and drying; but it’s worth it, even if it’s only in your spread area or under evaporative pads.

14. Irrigation pipes and hoses must be free of biofilms every year, using a product labeled for that purpose. This will reduce clogging of drippers and nozzles. One method to prevent clogging and biofilm buildup is to install cleanout valves at the ends of the dripper supply lines to force full pressure water to pass through every week or so. Some growers replace their drip systems once or twice a year to resolve the biofilm problem.

15. Label each outlet with the circuit breaker that controls it. I use a label maker with weatherproof adhesive printing tape to color-code them based on outlets controlled by timers (versus ones that are always on). These labels will improve the safety, communication and efficiency of repairs and installations.

16. Consider single table light deprivation systems for flexibility in harvest planning. It can help you use the space more efficiently. I used some excellent single table systems which allowed us to experiment with different photoperiods.

17. Determine the best method to consolidate maintenance and repair records into a format that can be shared with your team. and is available by smartphone. Develop your own Google Docs or consider other third-party software.

18. Use signal tapes and flags to improve communication between staff on a clogged dripper, for example, or on weeds or in the process of being rinsed, etc.

19. Make repairs more efficient by maintaining a parts list and keep spare parts on hand.

20. Anything made of plastic in a greenhouse, such as a fertilizer injector, should be protected from direct sunlight to protect it from cracking or disintegration. Reflective bubble wrap is a good solution.

21. Assemble job specific toolkits for immediate problem response: a kit for plumbing repairs and a kit for electronic repairs. Additionally, an emergency submersible pump with flexible hose connections can quickly replace an evaporative buffer pump until you can hook one up properly.

22. Invest in rolling safety ladders with side rails to reach high places.

23. Consider purchasing a used lift from an equipment rental company, if you can’t afford a new one. I bought one for $ 6,000 which lasted over 10 years.

24. Place two 20 gallon trash cans wherever you currently have a standard 32 gallon trash can. Yes, it takes up more space, but it will keep your staff from getting tired when they are overfilled, as the smaller boxes contain a third less material.

Editor’s note: The first article in this series appeared in the March 2018 edition of Cannabis business time, and Part II of the series, featured here, was published in the April 2018 issue.

Robert Eddy, MS, is a consultant and former Greenhouse Manager at Purdue University.


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