Ken Morrow, a regular columnist for sister publication Cannabis Business Times and owner of cannabis R&D company Trichome Technologies, is a horticulture nerd at heart. In his experience, the cannabis and horticulture industries aren’t all that different — and could learn a lot from each other.
Greenhouse Management: What can the greenhouse industry learn from the cannabis industry?
Ken Morrow: I look [at] the reverse — I look at what the cannabis industry can learn from the production industry of large-scale greenhouse horticulture. In some ways, they are different, but in some ways, they are same. I tell people all the time about these three businesses in Wilcox, Arizona. They took over existing greenhouse space that used to belong to EuroFresh Farms — they were the largest greenhouses in the U.S. — and if you Google EuroFresh Farms and look at their history, you’ll realize that they filed for bankruptcy three separate times because they couldn’t stay bug- and disease-free. There are nuances with lighting spectrums and other things we don’t know. But we can learn from any indoor operation.
GM: What is currently driving growth in the cannabis market?
KM: I think the thing that’s driving [growth] most is extract. Seeing that rapid explosion of extract, whether it’s CO2, hydrocarbon or ethanol, there’s apparatuses out there that cost well over $1 million dollars. It wasn’t even 10 years ago that there wasn’t a single grower out there that could afford to buy something for $1 million, let alone that there was no legal avenue for an investor to invest in a company to give them the amount of money to buy that piece of equipment. And they didn’t have a large enough amount of cannabis to utilize that piece of equipment. Who would have thought that 80% — or even 90% — of the cannabis grown in 10 years will go to vape pens, cartridges and extracts? There’s very little market for [the cannabis flowers].
GM: How would you recommend greenhouse growers interested in learning more about the cannabis industry, or perhaps getting involved with it, start that process?
KM: My girlfriend has a niece and the niece was training at a grow facility in Santa Cruz, California. She was very good, very hardworking and became very desired by certain people [in the industry]. And one of them could no longer employ her, so he introduced her to the people that run a company called The Proving Grounds. They are in the Eastern San Diego area and spent millions upon millions of dollars on their greenhouse. She had learned as much as she could, so she got to visit there. And she attended classes at the University of Arizona, where they have some greenhouse classes a few times a year that teach people real-world greenhouse growing — not with cannabis, but with plants. And that still applies. It’s not too different than learning about [horticulture production].