5 Tips for Creating More Effective Master Recipes for Cannabis Cultivars

For cannabis cultivators, identifying, recording, and optimizing a process for each cultivar they grow is essential to success. The creation of these “master recipes” can be a challenge, especially without the proper approach or the right technological solutions. This guide offers insight into the benefits of developing and optimizing a master recipe for each cultivar, as well as tips on how to pinpoint the best master recipes. 

What is a Master Recipe for Cannabis Cultivation?

A master recipe is a detailed plan for how to grow a specific cultivar of cannabis. It includes everything about a cultivation facility’s process for that cultivar, from fertigation to photoperiods to environment to lighting and lighting spectrum.

The goal of establishing a master recipe is to grow healthier plants to support larger yields and higher quality flower while optimizing costs. This “living plan” can (and should!) be tweaked and modified as more information is gathered about a cultivar and how it responds to certain conditions over repeated grows. 

Master recipes give cultivators a roadmap, a methodical approach that is proven to succeed. Moreover, as a cultivation facility scales and more grow room personnel are added to the operation, it’s important to have a standardized, repeatable process that new employees can follow with little learning curve. Establishing repeatable, documented processes is also a core requirement of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) — although there are currently no GMP standards for the cannabis industry it is inevitable that as the industry evolves, these standards will apply to cannabis cultivators and manufacturers as well.

Tips-for-Creating-Master-Lighting-RecipesHow to Create a Master Recipe for a Cannabis Cultivar

Creating a master recipe for each cannabis cultivar is no easy task. It takes experience, environmental monitoring capabilities, and the ability to record multiple data points, including the optimal temperature, relative humidity, vapor pressure deficit (VPD), carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, photoperiod, PPFD (photon density) and fertigation.

This process is required for every cultivar, so naturally, developing master recipes can be a labor-intensive task. With these tips and the right technology solutions, however, creating and optimizing master recipes for every cultivar doesn’t have to be such a heavy lift.

Establish Responsive Zone Control for Crop Steering

To create a master recipe and follow it, it’s important for cultivators to establish responsive zone control. This means the ability to precisely tune the environment surrounding a cultivar and maintain it at optimal conditions. This type of zone control is essential for crop steering, the process by which cultivators ensure their plants grow as intended. 

Responsive zone control also ensures cultivators can react to conditions in real-time. For example, if the HVAC system breaks and the temperature of the zone increases, responsive zone control enables cultivators to quickly lower the lights to reduce heat stress on the plants until the system is investigated and repaired. 

Monitor and Track Environmental Conditions by Grow Room Zone

Responsive zone control may help keep plants happy, but recording environmental conditions for later analysis is the only way to ensure your master recipes truly reflect the best method of crop steering for each cultivar. To this end, many cultivators use environmental monitoring software, which combines sensors deployed throughout the facility with a centralized database that can track key factors affecting plant growth, such as temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, soil EC, and VPD.

The best environmental monitoring software not only enables cultivators to review every room at a glance, but also set and adjust parameters to ensure conditions remain in an optimal range across seedling rooms, vegetative rooms, and flowering rooms. This makes real-time alerts and notifications a must for any program, so cultivators can quickly adjust when a room falls out of the optimal range. For example, if the temperature rises to 90℉ in a vegetative room, the software should send an alert so cultivation personnel can respond immediately along with closed loop feedback to other sensors and parameters to adapt to the changing temperatures e.g. lights dimming down.

Finally, data collected by environmental monitoring software should be archived in an easily searchable format. That way, cultivators can revisit this data after each grow to examine what worked, what didn’t, and compare results and yields to past grows to determine whether their master recipe needs to be adjusted.

Test Different Conditions on the Same Cultivar Across Multiple Grows

After one grow with a particular cultivar, it may seem you’ve identified a working master recipe. The plants all survived, flower quality was exceptional, and yields were substantial – but it’s impossible to know after just one grow whether conditions were truly optimal for that cultivar. The only way to be sure is to slightly tweak conditions in a subsequent grow and monitor the plants closely to see how they respond. 

For example, when growing a cultivar for the second time, a cultivator may choose to keep all other conditions the same but increase CO2 levels just slightly. With historical records of how the plants responded in the first grow, thanks to environmental monitoring software, comparisons of each grow can be made to  determine whether the change to the master recipe yielded better results or whether it can be further refined.

Furthermore, with precise zone control, cultivators don’t need to experiment with an entire crop – a costly and risky endeavor – if they already have a method that works. They can simply reserve a small zone to test their hypotheses while running their typical process in other zones. This is especially useful when cultivators have set up a system of advanced zone control that can be used to create and change zone conditions on the fly directly from their environmental monitoring software.

Optimize Master Recipes Based on Historical Data Analysis

With data on a cultivar over multiple grows in varying conditions in hand, cultivators can compare results to identify the optimal combination of environmental conditions. By meticulously monitoring and recording every facet of cultivation, tracking what a cultivar responds well to or doesn’t, cultivators can update their master recipes grow after grow to find the perfect environment for each cultivar.

Over time, using this approach, cultivators are able to identify the optimal master recipe for each cultivar they grow, based on plant genetics and the conditions in their facilities. Recording this master recipe and providing it to staff for easy access ensures a repeatable standard operating procedure (SOP) that guarantees healthy plants, top-shelf flower, and optimized yields. This represents Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s).

Using Smart Lighting to Streamline Your Process

The tips above may seem easier said than done – after all, combining responsive zone control, environmental monitoring, and historical data analysis is a tall order. However, with modern technological solutions like TSRgrow’s TOTALgrow Solution, all of these tips can be achieved with the help of a single platform. TSRgrow’s advanced LED lighting system offers remote power, which means no dimming wires required for unlimited zone and lighting control based on the environmental conditions in each grow room.

How TSRgrow’s TOTALgrow Solution Supports Optimal Master Recipes

Some of the tips above have historically been difficult for cultivators to achieve, but with TSRgrow’s TOTALgrow Solution, they’re easier to incorporate into the cannabis cultivation process than ever.  Much more than an LED lighting system, the TOTALgrow Solution is a connected platform that ditches conventional ballast-powered lighting, dimmer wires, and analog switches to empower cultivators with granular digital zone control, built-in environmental monitoring, and a database of living master recipes for every cultivar they grow. 

TSRgrow’s remote power and advanced lighting control software integrates seamlessly with its GROWHub monitoring and control software. An integrated centralized database and wireless sensors offer unprecedented access to real-time environmental data throughout the grow room. With GROWHub, cultivators aren’t bound to a single approach; they can easily move sensors around to test new approaches and optimize their master recipes for every cultivar they plan to grow. The system can even store customizable master recipes, allowing cultivators to save their methodologies for each cultivar, revise their approach directly in the software as needed, and access them wherever they are.

With the TOTALgrow Solution, you don’t need to implement the tips above without help. The capabilities and features of the platform support your goal of creating and optimizing master recipes based on plant genetics, known techniques, and the unique conditions of your facility.

Lighting That Supports Your Master Recipes

From establishing zones and changing them as needed to real-time environmental monitoring, TSRgrow’s lighting platform offers growers a dynamic and intelligent way to develop and refine their master recipes for any cultivar. When you’re ready to upgrade your lighting to support the future of cannabis cultivation, call TSRgrow and ask how the TOTALgrow Solution can revolutionize your processes today.
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