By Justin Dufour • December 8, 2017

Gaining Competitive Advantage Through Cannabis Crop Cycle Management

Contrary to what you might expect with all the strict regulations imposed by state bills, cannabis cultivation is in not much different than conventional agriculture. Growing cannabis is a dynamic process, as plants go through a series of life stages of growth, maturity and eventually, flowering. As many of you already know, each phase has drastically different requirements regarding light, water, nutrients, and temperature.

Learning how to control all variables in commercial grow operations can prove to be a daunting task with a lot of micromanagement. In this article, we’ll be talking about how growers can utilize cannabis management software to track plant development and gain a competitive advantage. For growers, the goal is to improve your crops efficiency and yield through customized monitoring and automation.

 

Understanding Marijuana Development

There is no one winning formula for cannabis cultivation. The growth rate of plants is never identical, even if they are the same strain. In general, there are four factors that determine how soon (or how late) your plants will mature and flower.

● Genetics;

● Plant training;

● Harvest timing;

● Growing conditions and medium;

Growing can take as fast as two months to as slow as eight months, depending on the circumstances. As a professional cultivator, you are expected to plan ahead and organize your crops based on the life cycle of each batch. While this is quite easy to do with a few tags in an indoor garden, a commercial grow operation with 500+ plants will require a considerably bigger effort and automation.

Specialized cannabis management software can help you neatly store all the information of each plant in your garden individually and refer to it via a unique RFID code with a simple scan. That way, you can instantly check the status of your grow and point out any deficiencies or abnormalities to your partners or staff. The platform will keep tabs on your grows and notify you whenever a milestone is approaching or if something is not going according to plan.

 

The Life Stages of a Cannabis Plant

Cannabis growth goes through four very distinct life cycles, each one with its unique needs in terms of photosynthesis and watering schedules. Specialized cannabis management software lets you automate and process many of the details that are listed here. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

Germination

Duration: 1-7 days

Germination is the seed's initial stage of growth and refers to the emergence of the root that is hidden inside the shell of the seed. The life of your plants will officially begin when the root is placed into the growing medium. After that, meristem cells reproduce at rapid rates, giving your plant a much-needed boost at its first stages.

Experienced growers know that cells at the bottom of the plant can be replanted as clones for future generations. Generally, cloning a successful strain is a surefire way to ensure faster plant propagation and reduce unwanted genetic traits. We will examine how cannabis management software can help you with that in the next section.

Seedling

Duration: 1-3 weeks

This stage is when plants start to build their root system by expanding deep into their growing medium. This is also when transpiration and chlorophyll production start, meaning plants are setting up their photosynthetic mechanisms. During this period seedlings are sensitive to all external stimuli, so many professionals start training their plants by adjusting light intensity and spectrum.

For commercial grow operations, you can place reminders on your platform in order to make all the necessary changes just in time. At this point, plants need an 18/6 photoperiod and make wider use of the blue spectrum. However, baby plants will grow out of this stage soon and their needs will change dramatically.

Vegetative

Duration: 2-12 weeks

This is the main stage of a plant's life. A spike in root and stem growth rates means that during this stage, marijuana plants need more nutrients and frequent (but not too frequent) watering. However, the most important factor is an abundance of light. During vegetation, plant leaves are growing to absorb more photons and a steady source of high-PAR light is paramount to success.

After plants reach their maximum size, they just wait for the light patterns to change so they can flower. Technically, you induce flowering whenever you wish. Plants will stay at the vegetative stage as long as they keep receiving 18-24 hours of "sunlight". The reason to stall their development is the production of more potent and tasteful buds later on. Specialized software can help you customize the lifecycle of your plants way in advance and create custom light patterns for strains that you wish to keep in vegetation for a little longer.

Flowering

Duration: 1-2 weeks

When plants enter the flowering stage they start preparing for reproduction. This means their hormones fluctuate severely and they use red and far-red wavelengths of light. Careful monitoring of the environment is critical at this time, as flowering plants need a stable climate in order to develop fully. You need to keep your plants in the dark for 12 hours and maintain a steady temperature between 68-77ºF (20-25ºC) when the lights are on to avoid putting your plants under unnecessary tension.

Harvest

Harvesting is not a grow cycle per se, but it is a critical point in your crop’s life. When half of the trichomes on your cannabis are visibly milky white or amber in color, your cannabis is ready for harvest. Timing is essential here, as the more you wait to collect the buds, the higher the CBD content. Depending on what kind of product you want to grow, you might have different needs and no time to track all your plants one by one.

In commercial grow operations, monitoring and adjusting the environment through software automation is a real lifesaver. A specialized cannabis management platform can track and set up lighting, temperature and watering routines without the need for constant supervision. Just be sure to select a software that is customized for growers.

 

Important Features of Quality Cannabis Crop Management Software

Our goal with this article is to share some information about the role of software in the ever-evolving world of cannabis cultivation. Below we have listed some of the most important features that a cannabis crop cycle automation platform should provide to commercial growers and processors:

Strain Tracking

Marijuana genetics can lead to dramatic differences among marijuana plants. Learning more about the strains of cannabis or hemp that you are producing will allow you to produce more yield, quicker, at higher levels. By tracking each strain's development rates through a cannabis management software, you can set milestones between key dates of your plant's life cycle and set important reminders. Also, growers can record and track crossbreeding, plant genetics and monitor clone propagation.

Automatic Notifications

Commercial plant growing means that you’ll never have a boring day at work, as growing requires your constant attention. That’s why you should be able to count on a reliable cannabis software that lets you set up reminders for whatever you’d like. From watering schedules and light cycles to from nutrient and pesticide applications. This is especially useful if you are working with a team, as it makes sure that you all stay in sync.

Environmental Tracking

External factors play an important role in proper plant development. With software that is specifically engineered for cannabis growers, you can track and monitor the environment of your grow room(s) and adjust temperature, humidity, and lighting settings according to your plants' needs. You can also automate the process and set up specific routines to completely customize your grows.

Manage Light Cycles

Light cycles are closely knitted to crop cycles and plant development stages. Through a cannabis management software, you can automate the amount of light your plants get at specific periods of time according to your goals. This is especially useful during the transition between grow cycles, as non-automatic plants change depending on light fluctuation rather than genetic predisposition.

Clone & Seed Monitoring

Whether you are purchasing seeds or clones or procuring them from in-house resources, cannabis software platforms should allow you to track the efficiency of your propagation techniques and provide you with useful data regarding production and plant performance. That way, you will have cold, hard evidence on what you should be improving upon. Also, this is especially important to medical and recreational operations, who need to track collective ID's, patient ID's, or state ID's per seed, clone, or plant.

Plant Journal

Seed to sale software should log all actions that were performed on each assigned plant. That way, every action that is performed on a plant is kept in the plant's journal so you can easily track if the plant was moved, who worked on it when it was moved, watered, treated, fed, or pruned. You should also be able to assign tasks to plants and even take pictures of the plant to get a historical view of the plant itself.

Data Charts

In today's data-driven world, your cannabis business is no exception. Software that helps you run tests and create data maps to determine which products worked best and at what part of the grow cycle. You can also play around with data by creating reports, labels, and inventory tracking, as well as make customized product suggestions to customers.

After Harvest

High-quality cannabis management software must automate the processes that follow even after harvesting is done. Drying, curing and storing marijuana are extremely important to the quality of your product. Look for software that integrates with hardware such as barcode scanners, digital scales, and label printers in order to automate the process and ensure accuracy.

Cannabis Compliance

Although that goes without saying, a custom cannabis seed-to-sale solution should offer legal compliance through integration with the APIs offered by your jurisdictions, custom reports. Also, the team behind the software should be able to work with your legal representatives if any legal issues come up.

 

Why Viridian Sciences?

We highly recommend that you do your research and select a platform that is absolutely suited to your needs. Viridian Sciences does it all, so definitely check us out in your hunt for the best software solution. We have developed one of the most sophisticated seed-to-sale cannabis management systems on the market and we are proud of it!

Our platform is an all-in-one business management software, built on the framework of SAP Business One and customized specifically for the cannabis industry. We offer a complete suite of tracking, monitoring and automation services for growers and processors, while at the same time ensuring compliance with local laws. Your data are securely stored on our servers.

By managing your crop cycle correctly, you can streamline your working process and focus on business (as well as plant) growth. Check out our full range of services on our website and set up a 1-1 meeting with one of our representatives!