More cannabis producers are looking to capitalize on outdoor growing, with products such as edibles and beverages, hopefully, being legalized later this year.
While there certainly continues to be room for debate, one developing view is that carefully grown indoor cannabis makes for some of the best premium dried flower, while large-scale outdoor grown cannabis may fit the bill for those not-yet available extraction products.
“They’re not dried flower, so you don’t need that premium looking bud,” Jeannette VanderMarel, co-CEO and director of 48North Cannabis Corp., says of the latter.
There are three primary methods of growing cannabis large scale—controlled indoor growing, greenhouses and commercial-scale outdoor growing, notes Allan Rewak, vice president of communications and stakeholder relations at Emerald Health Therapeutics Inc. Indoor grants the most control over growing conditions with greenhouses somewhere in the middle (although they are enclosed spaces, they rely on natural sunlight and often have some exposure to the natural environment), Rewak points out.
What are some benefits of growing cannabis outside?
48North was the first company to apply for an outdoor grow licence in Canada, and VanderMarel cites what she sees as several pros of growing outdoors—growers gain the ability to grow larger and quicker yields when the height and root growth of plants are not limited by greenhouse or indoor building facilities, which she suggests could help address the industry’s supply shortage. The most obvious benefits of growing outdoors, however, are the energy savings from growing in a natural environment such as the ability to use sunlight fully. In addition to being more energy-efficient, the carbon footprint of field growth is also much lower.
VanderMarel explains that plants produce terpenes, or the compounds in essential oils, to protect themselves from pests and pathogens. “Outdoors, [cannabis plants] tend to produce more as they are more exposed to the elements,” she notes. Terpenes can also better enhance the medicinal effects of cannabis.