The growing of medicinal cannabis continues at an impressive pace in the southern African region and the majority of the farmers are making use of the most cutting-edge technology on offer to improve yields and quality.
Although a fairly new agricultural sector in SADC, the gaining of medicinal cannabis is gaining traction especially in Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
Bryan Hulbert, the chief executive of Greencon, a leading supplier and installer of greenhouses in the region believes that this current growth trend will continue and the crop will be of better grade.
“Greencon has been involved in erecting greenhouses for medicinal cannabis not only in Zimbabwe, but also in countries like Lesotho and the potential for expansion is enormous,” he said.
“The vast majority of growers are making the most of cutting-edge technology on offer with greenhouses and are starting to reap the rewards. Hopefully, the trend continues and medicinal cannabis growth realises its potential.”
According to Hulbert, there are a number of different types of greenhouses that are best suited for specific crop requirements.
“A prominent feature of the greenhouse is its roof which can be fixed, movable or rolling, with each of these having a number of benefits in helping control the temperatures and humidity levels with the structure,” he added.
“Therefore, the vast majority of medicinal cannabis growers are opting to use greenhouses specifically designed for medicinal cannabis crops. Besides the security factor there are a large number of advantages afforded by a greenhouse, most notably extensive climate control over the factors that affect the plants growth including temperature, humidity, radiation, light, wind and rain.
“Furthermore, greenhouses help with pest and disease prevention; eliminate the potential of cross contamination from other cannabis plants; and allow for intensive plant production resulting in higher yields per annum through multiple cropping circles and a superior product quality in a smaller growing space.”
Hulbert added that in order to maximise production and plant growth, there should be a number of different areas and zones in a farmer’s greenhouse.
“The first is an enclosed germination chamber where the seed germination takes place. Here the seeds or cuttings are germinated using a series of vertical racks and trollies, which allows you to grow the requisite number of seedlings in a relatively small space.
“From there, the plants are moved into three different areas of the greenhouse namely a nursery, then a vegetable area and ultimately the flowering area. By having these designated areas within, the grower is able to control a number of variables to maximise plant growth.”
Added Hulbert: “For example, during the propagation stage, the plants prefer higher humidity levels. However, these levels need to be lowered during the flowering and drying stages.
“Extraction and cooling fans are also very important in terms of temperature and humidity control, with many growers also employing high pressure fog and mist systems.”