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Crop Steering as a way to improve cannabis bud quality

Crop Steering as a way
to improve cannabis bud quality

The perfect storm of a global pandemic, lockdowns, and essential status fueled increasing demand and chart-topping sales for cannabis producers, leading many to adopt cultivation strategies centered on improving cannabis crop yields. But the aftermath of market oversaturation and tumbling wholesale prices is forcing brands to look beyond improving cannabis yields as the singular path to profitability. Instead of seeking the best ways to improve yield, cannabis cultivators have begun shifting their focus away from bulk production and toward finding every possible way to improve cannabis bud quality. While improving cannabis bud quality and yield with subcanopy lighting and expensive facility upgrades is certainly one way to go, crop steering gives cultivators a level of control that will allow them to set outcomes that lead to better product quality, with the added benefit of being able to improve cannabis yields in the long run.  Using data from AROYA, cultivators can look at their grow holistically and identify opportunities to make improvements in their irrigation strategy or overall environment. Here are some of the ways crop steering can help your cannabis cultivation improve the quality of its products consistently, repeatably, and at scale.

Crop steering to improve cannabis yields & quality

We define crop steering as a plant management practice that manipulates light, climate, and irrigation to encourage plants to grow a certain way. But really, anytime a grower sets irrigation and environmental parameters to achieve a specific plant response, they’re crop steering. When the target outcome is both yield and quality, which is most often the case for commercial cultivators, then timing the irrigations is one of the easiest ways to increase the response in that plant for both its distinct chemical composition – aka, chemotype – and weight. 

 

Let’s say you have fire genetics that deliver all the expression you’re looking for, but you’re struggling to get that same consistent chemotype with every harvest…

 

Review an entire run for areas for improvement.

A grower’s instincts are important, but figuring out how to achieve the same results run-to-run without data turns decision-making into more of a guessing game. Not having access to data like EC ranges just makes it that much harder to know what stress was applied, when it was applied, and what came as a result. Crop registration offers a framework for monitoring plants’ productivity by tracking things like stem diameter, plant height, weekly growth, and other key performance indicators (KPIs) that help ensure a cannabis brand’s longevity. Using AROYA to track and pull that information from an entire run gives growers the insight they need to determine what worked well, versus where there were discrepancies or others issues that impacted consistency.

 

Use data to set ideal parameters.

Historical data tells growers everything they need to know about their plants and their production process. Growers can then take what they’ve learned to set the target ranges that will ultimately lead to their ideal outcomes. And with AROYA, cultivators can set alerts to help them stay within those parameters, give them a heads-up about equipment or scheduling failures, and to inform them that their ranges need adjustment based on what’s going on with the plants.

 

Keep it up during post-harvest.

Achieving a successful harvest is cause for celebration, but knowing when and whether it’s dried and cured properly shouldn’t be a mystery. Overdrying cannabis damages trichomes and affects yields; under-drying increases the likelihood of mold contamination, violates regulations and puts consumers – not to mention, your business – at risk.  Reliable water activity readings can help growers ensure that quality doesn’t diminish during the drying phase. Because when it comes to the longevity of your business, decisions you make post-harvest are just as important as those made during production.

It’s not just about weight.

Steering your plants toward quality requires trying to consistently achieve the traits you’re seeing in a particular chemotype. And data holds the key. After all, you want the plants to express themselves the same with every harvest because that quality is what makes your brand stand out from the rest – and keeps customers coming back again and again. For more on how AROYA can help cultivators improve quality, Office Hours Episode 48 is packed with insight.

 

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