The world of indoor horticulture can scarcely be mentioned without discussing cannabis, as indoor marijuana cultivation has long been one of the industry's benchmarks.
Marijuana use has long been stigmatized by its illegality, and its cultivation has always been a far more serious crime than possession. As many states and countries have begun to recognize both the medical and social benefits of marijuana legalization though, so too has the stigma surrounding its cultivation begun to reduce.
In the wake of the dying stigma is a world of opportunity. For decades, cannabis growers have been experimenting with and developing some of the world's most refined indoor growing techniques. Thanks to changing laws, those same growers can now come forward and claim their spots among leading indoor horticulturalists.
Intrepid cannabis growers are constantly making new advances and reaching new heights in their cultivation endeavors. New technology, more transparency, and an increased degree of communication with authorities have led to significant advancements in the industry in the last decade alone.
Before elaborating on those advancements, it's essential to understand the history of cannabis cultivation and what has led to the modern cannabis revolution.
Though it's all but impossible to trace indoor cannabis cultivation back to its earliest practitioners, there's still a great deal to know in order to fully understand how far indoor growing has come.
Excited by the discovery of various cannabis landrace strains around the world in the 1950s and & 60s, growers began propagating and breeding many of these strains in other habitats where they did not grow naturally. As a result, the genetics of many of these early landrace strains mutated with their new environment or were crossed with other genetics to create the potent varieties of cannabis we know and love today.
This included the development in Mexico of sinsemilla or female marijuana plants that were kept isolated from males and thus, remained unseeded through harvest. The potency of these buds was vastly superior to its predecessors, and a whole new era of cannabis consumption was ushered in.
Along with the better buds came a new series of issues and challenges. At the forefront was the issue of legality: most marijuana in the U.S. at the time came smuggled from Mexico, where it was sold by increasingly dangerous drug cartels and its use associated with crime and violence.
For many peaceful hippies and stoners, though, this association did not ring true. To many, marijuana was a plant that represented peace, positivity and introspection, and the association with criminality was one that lumped them in with the likes of murderous drug pushers and smugglers.
These associations only furthered as the United States began its now-notorious "War on Drugs," a series of policies and actions geared toward curbing the prevalence of street drugs in the U.S. By including marijuana with the likes of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, these laws and statutes effectively turned anyone interested in the medicinal or recreational use of cannabis into a criminal.
As a result of these counterproductive and racist policies, marijuana was forced underground like any common street drug and thus began its clandestine cultivation. For most, this meant picking a discreet, concealable corner of the yard and placing one or two plants there in hopes of garnering even a small harvest in the fall. The paranoia that went along with growing a covert garden was practically part of the fun!
Growers in Europe had already begun experimenting with indoor cultivation, particularly those growers concerned with maintaining genetics and crossbreeding plants to create new strains. Most notably, Amsterdam, due to its lax drug laws, became the cannabis capital of the world, especially for those wishing to obtain seeds. Many growers in the U.S. began to take note, and the indoor cannabis cultivation game had been set in motion.
With California's passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, it became the first U.S. state to legalize the use of marijuana for medical patients with proper certification. The passage of Prop. 215 also allowed the cultivation of marijuana by patients for medical use, opening the doors for private citizens to begin growing their own crops. Unfortunately, federal law was decades behind, and these patients were still faced with the dilemma of concealing their plants, whether to avoid law enforcement detection or theft.
The natural progression led to a tremendous increase in indoor cultivation. Though many growers had been growing indoors up to this time, the practice became ever more prominent as the demand for high-potency, high-THC buds increased with the medical market.
Growing indoors offered several advantages, the most notable of which were the privacy and security provided by a concealed grow room, as well as the increased ability to raise a healthy, entirely female crop. By sealing a grow room and controlling the environment, indoor growers were able to avoid many of the common pitfalls of outdoor growers, namely pests and pollination from male plants. The result was increasingly potent cannabis, increasing diversity in the genetic pool of the plant, and further advancement in the world of indoor horticulture.
Ironically, many of the significant advancements in indoor horticulture have been spurred on by cannabis growers. Once associated with being "lazy stoners" and "no-goodniks," cannabis users have actually been at the frontier of indoor gardening for years.
While there are undoubtedly many other applications for indoor horticultural practices, such as the cultivation of microgreens or young plants, cannabis has been, thanks to its shaky legal status over the years, the trailblazing crop of indoor growing.
Indoor cannabis growers helped push forward several horticultural-related industries by developing new and ingenious ways to produce quality cannabis in confined spaces. The ingenuity of these growers is evidenced by a trip to any local hydroponics supply store or any well-equipped grow operation, as their inventions and developments continue to be put to use today. Probably the most significant of these contributions, though, is the development of increasingly efficient lighting capable of producing a spectrum as similar to sunlight as possible.
For years, indoor cannabis growers relied on fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps, such as metal halide and high-pressure sodium bulbs . These lights worked for their purpose: they produced a spectrum of light that contained an adequate spectrum of photosynthetically active radiation, or PAR, for plants to grow to maturity.
The use of HID fixtures however, came with many significant drawbacks. For starters, neither type of HID bulbs produce a full spectrum of light, meaning growers had to switch bulbs between growth phases. Metal halide bulbs produce the blue light necessary for veg, while high-pressure sodium bulbs give off the necessary red light for flowering. Changing bulbs often proved tricky for growers working with wide, dense canopies, and damage to plants was not an uncommon occurrence.
In addition, HID lamps run extremely hot, forcing growers to implement duct-cooled fixtures and air conditioners to combat the heat generated. This resulted in significantly increased cooling costs, as well as additional HVAC infrastructure costs. In large grow rooms, this proved extraordinarily costly.
If that weren't enough, HID fixtures were often large and bulky to accommodate an adequate-sized reflector and required ballasts to operate. For small-scale grows, these large reflectors and ballasts became space limitations; in large-scale grows, running numerous ballasts only added to the already existent heat problem. While indoor growers had figured out ways to work within these limitations and still produce quality bud, the cons often outweighed the pros.
In the early 2000s, growers began experimenting with LED grow lights for indoor horticulture. Following cues from NASA, which had been experimenting with growing plants using LEDs for future deep-space missions, growers began to implement LED arrays in their grow rooms. The results were eye-opening:
LED lights consume less power, generate less grow room heat, and still offer a decent amount of light. Of course, LED grow lights were still not widely available, and those that were offered limited amounts of light, both in terms of spectrum and brightness.
Often used supplementally at first, LED lights really began to gain momentum with the increasing availability of colored diodes. Along with a wider range of colors came a broader spectrum, and soon LED boards were being developed with various red and blue diodes integrated for the purpose of broadening the light's spectrum.
While this was a nice idea, LED grow lights still did not offer a truly full spectrum of light. Many manufacturers began producing lights that featured a "Veg" and "Bloom" switch which would add more red or blue light to the mix, as the grower determined, but even these lights failed to account for green light and light beyond the visible spectrum, which includes far-red and UV light, all of which are made use of by cannabis plants.
In addition, all LED grow lights available on the market featured ballasts mounted to the LED board. As ballasts were a major contributing factor to additional grow room heat when working under HID lights, it became apparent that the advantages being gained through the development of LED lights were not being fully maximized. Between the spectrum problem and the ballast issue, we knew that there was something more to be done.
After discovering the significant challenges still facing LED growers, TSRgrow set out not only to meet these challenges with our advanced LED lighting, but to go even one step further and develop a TOTALgrow™ Solution for our clients.
For starters, we addressed the light spectrum issue. The spectrum, or lack of spectrum, problem still persisted. Here at TSRgrow, we began developing solutions by incorporating both far-red and UV diodes into our arrays. TSRgrow offers true full spectrum LED grow lights designed specifically to meet the needs of indoor growers. Carefully tuned to offer a truly full plant spectrum, TSRgrow's LED grow lights can include far-red, UV, and the appropriate ratio of green 520 nm wavelength spectrum to ensure that your cannabis plants receive everything that they would from the sun.
Most importantly, we've removed the ballasts from our grow lights. Ballasts are heavy and awkward to work with when they're hanging over a nice Sea of Green canopy, and the chance of damaging plants while trying to replace a damaged ballast is quite high. At TSRgrow, we've decoupled the ballast from the light, developing instead a design solution for commercial horticulture: remote power servers, housed outside of the grow room in server cabinets.
This not only eliminates heat produced by ballasts, cutting HVAC and cooling costs, but also serves to simplify installation and maintenance of our advanced LED grow lighting solutions.
But we didn't stop there. We know that in horticulture, lighting is more than just lights, which is why we took it a step further and developed an intelligent lighting platform that incorporates our LED lighting with remote power and software for monitoring and control. We call this our Lighting as a Platform™ (LaaP). LaaP is a first-of-its-kind, fully integrated lighting technology that enables growers to have total control of their lighting, even remotely. With this advanced technology, there's easy installation and maintenance of the lighting and no more tripping over cables to change a light or control the intensity. Everything can be controlled outside of the grow room.
This combination of our high-performance TSRgrow LED light fixtures, remote power servers and sensor feedback technologies, as well as control and system software applications, provides cultivator's with the most intuitive, user-friendly grow room experience available. Our TOTALgrow™ Solution will help you maximize the photobiological efficiency of your plants while simultaneously cutting costs. TSRgrow provides advanced LED lighting solutions that are better for your business and for the planet.
As more states and countries roll out legalization efforts, one thing has become clear: cannabis is here to stay. The demand for high-quality medical and recreational marijuana is one that will keep the market booming for years to come.
That is why, here at TSRgrow, we have dedicated our efforts to create the most efficient, technologically sound, growing solutions possible. We believe that no matter what type of crop you're growing, you should be provided with the most optimal experience available.
Nowadays, it's not uncommon to see vast fields of hemp being grown outdoors throughout states where cannabis has been legalized. For those who have been enjoying marijuana for decades, this seems like something out of a dream or something they'd only heard of existing in the mountains of Afghanistan or Mexico. Fortunately, it finally seems as though marijuana's time has come, and TSRgrow's advanced LED lighting solutions will power growers well into the future.
If you've been looking for solutions to your growing needs, allow TSRgrow to show you how our high-performance LED lights and Lighting as a Platform™ (LaaP) technology can create a TOTALgrow™ Solution for you. Visit us online at TSRgrow.com or check out our regularly updated blog or our increasingly popular podcast, Grow Sessions. We'd love to work with you because at TSRgrow, we do more than just lighting; we develop solutions.