Rubicon: Greenhouse Grown Organic Cannabis Is Not Easy, But Worth the Effort
August 1st, 2018
Exclusive, News, Top Story
There are advantages in growing cannabis in hybridized, high tech greenhouses that combine the best of the indoor environment with the best of the sun-grown environment. There are also reasons to think that growing and selling certified organic cannabis would appeal to an increasingly large segment of the market, following established consumer trends. Combining the two approaches turns out to be very difficult, as evidenced by the fact that nobody in the market currently is doing it. Rubicon Organics™ is a late stage ACMPR applicant with operations in British Columbia, California, and Washington, that will set the standard for certified organic greenhouse production. Rubicon plans to take its organic, greenhouse-grown business model public in the very near term, and there are many reasons why investors may want to take note.
Hybrid Greenhouse Advantages
Indoor growing is a great way to produce consistently high quality cannabis. The main advantages come from absolute environmental control of conditions ranging from light cycles to temperature to humidity. The downside lies mostly in costs associated with production, including energy requirements of lighting and ventilation systems, but also with the fact that a completely static environment is not necessarily the most efficient way to grow plants. More on that in a bit…
Outdoor growing benefits from utilizing nature’s free resources, most notably light, but suffers from the whims of an open environment and can become a never-ending battle to create consistent product. Typical greenhouses do better at using the free light, but often suffer in other areas such as air circulation and humidity/environment control. The newest high tech hybrid greenhouse designs take the best characteristics of each growing environment to maximize cannabis production while keeping costs low.
Rubicon Organics™ has two facilities designed with these hybrid principles in mind. The first greenhouse, in the state of Washington, was designed by noted greenhouse engineer Thomas Larssen. Rubicon took that design and tweaked it with some of its own upgrades to create the company’s Delta, BC facility.
Hybrid greenhouses control the growing environment in similar ways to indoor operations, but with a major difference. Indoor grows seek to maintain a static, consistent environment in terms of temperature and humidity. If temperature needs lowering, for instance, mechanical energy in the form of AC is employed so that every part of the growing room is a specific temperature. Air is circulated mechanically via fans. Hybrid greenhouses, however, create by design temperature stratification that encourages natural convection via heat, vent, and air circulation with canopy fan loops.In short, hybrid greenhouses create an active, rather than static, growing environment that mimics the natural environment in all the best ways. They control the undesirable variables like indoor growing does, but more efficiently and at lower operating costs.
Rubicon’s hybrid greenhouses combine LED lighting with sunlight and precise climate control, that in-turn produce cannabis that has tested in the 99th percentile of strain-specific terpene content, THC and total cannabinoids.
The Organic Difference
A recent report by the Canadian Organic Trade Association highlights the explosive growth trends around organic products. 66% of Canadian shoppers buy organic products on a weekly basis, up 10% in 2017 from 2016. These Canadian trends mirror those in the US and around the developed world and extend into the cannabis market. According to research by the Brightfield Group, 33% of US cannabis consumers are willing to pay a premium for organic products, with over half of these willing to pay anywhere from a 50% to 100% premium. These trends are pushed by younger generations, a fact that bodes well for continued market growth and demand.
These figures suggest that companies would be smart to produce certified organic cannabis. Still, as of this writing, there are only 2 certified organic licensed producers in Canada, out of 114 total granted licenses. Rubicon Organics™ is poised to become the third, anticipating its cultivation license in the coming months. Why such a small number for such a lucrative, high margin market segment? Organic production is hard.
Rubicon CEO Jesse McConnell co-founded the country’s first Certified Organic Cannabis producer in Canada, called Whistler Medical Marijuana Corporation (WMMC), while the company’s CSO helped write the Certified Organic Cannabis Standards in Canada and guide WMMC through the organic certification process. Together the CEO and CSO of Rubicon Organics™ created the first certified organic cannabis company in the world. The two have spent the past few years perfecting the art of organic cannabis greenhouse cultivation through a series of test grows, and Rubicon Organics™ is the result.
Rubicon has achieved the marriage of hybrid greenhouse production (lower cost than indoor, more dynamic growing environment, more controllable and efficient than outdoor) with organic cannabis cultivation (higher margin, barriers to entry, growing market demand). The company features two brands of products already in stores in California and Washington, and intends to spread those into Canada and eventually internationally.
When Whole Foods was created, the concept was to marry the convenience of a grocery store with the fresh organic products found in a farmer’s market. Rubicon has a similar idea, to make premium organic cannabis products widely available, building an iconic organic brand that consumers can rely on. The foundation is in place and the market appears to be ready.
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