Outdoor VS. Greenhouse Hemp Production: Which is Best?
Hemp is usually grown in mass quantities outdoors for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, fuel, construction and biodegradable plastics, but as more people are recognizing the health benefits of hemp and CBD, more hemp cultivators are choosing to grow their crops in greenhouses. There are cases to be made for both outdoor and greenhouse hemp production, but which option is best? The following is a look at the differences between outdoor and greenhouse hemp cultivation:
Industrial hemp has traditionally been grown outdoors because it can be grown in extremely large quantities and easily harvested, but since hemp is being grown and harvested for CBD, some growers believe growing hemp in a greenhouse is better.
An outdoor environment is great for growing hemp but outdoor crops are subject to the whims of nature. Outdoor hemp cultivation requires excellent sun exposure, hot days followed by warm nights and low humidity. If an area has an unusually rainy growing season, or an influx in pests, the entire crop could be ruined for the year. Greenhouse growers however can choose their location without being restrained by the weather. With the benefit of natural sunlight during the day, growers are able to control the temperature, CO2 levels, humidity and light source to create the ideal environment for hemp crops.
Outdoor grows are technically less expensive to run in the long-term since most can operate with very few employees until it’s time to harvest. However, most outdoor commercial hemp cultivators are only working one crop through the season. Commercial greenhouse hemp operations have increased costs due to energy required for lighting, ventilation and other environmental controls in addition to the labor required. That said, the high cost of running a greenhouse facility can be recouped fairly quickly as cultivators are able to harvest multiple times per year. Similar to commercial marijuana, commercial hemp can be successfully grown in a greenhouse environment rather than in a warehouse that relies entirely on artificial lighting. A greenhouse provides the benefit of natural sunlight during the day but with the ability to still control the indoor environment to the ideal climate for optimal growth, making it a cost efficient option.
Now that hemp, specifically CBD, is being used more frequently in food, beverages and for medical purposes, the quality and way it’s grown has become more important. CBD prices have recently taken a hit making cheaper production seem more appealing, but there is no denying the consistently higher quality yields that a greenhouse can produce. Outdoor grows are subject to heavy rain, wind and other natural elements than can easily reduce the quality of the crop if it’s being grown to produce high levels of CBD whereas a protected greenhouse environment can ensure fairly consistent CBD levels. When hemp is being grown for CBD production, the plants are usually started in the greenhouse mainly through cloning to ensure only female plants are used. If male plants are mixed in, they will pollinate the flower, causing the CBD levels to drop. Greenhouse crops, once again, can be easily manipulated since the environmental factors can be controlled. Greenhouses provide an environmentally friendly, sustainable alternative to outdoor growing, a factor that is becoming more important to consumers, while still producing a high quality product.
If you have the land available, there is always the potential to have a combination of both outdoor and greenhouse grown crops. Each option has its advantages and challenges but a combination of both allows for multiple harvests through the whole year for different purposes.
GGS has years of experience helping marijuana and hemp cultivators create their dream greenhouses and we’d love to help with your project. Contact our experts today!