Otoké uses this space to talk to important issues in the industry and how we think it affects the industry.
We see a wide range of experience in this industry from newbies to decades of practice and the one thing that all of the growers seem to have in common is use of growing models handed down from the underground grow culture. Relative to mainstream horticulture, we find these MMJ practices to be unsuited to scale up and the bottom line and want to encourage growers to seek more efficient methods.
We find growers are largely dependent on and handcuffed by proprietary nutrient programs. If you are a grower reading this, you know exactly why we say that.
Proprietary Nutrient programs work because they are designed around the basic nutrients, not because they contain special ingredients that no one else knows about. If you buy into that belief, think again.
Otoké has analyzed the nutrient profile of prorietaries and we find they follow the same general nutrient delivery scheme as any other crop, which is no surprise... plants all need the same things. The only surprise is that the formulations exhibit much higher concentrations of certain nutrients than what you would find in a commercial greenhouse nutrient progam and the question is whether those additional nutrients are really paying off for your operation?
Which brings us to the point of this column which is that we now have the freedom to run trials and discover the answers for ourselves. We can discuss relative merits, or we can test them and find the answers.
So where do we begin?
Otoké feels that the use of proprietaries has created a lot of confusion about what these formulations are doing and how. We believe that growers should run trials using manufactured nutrients just to establish a baseline and to gain experience with growing the plants themselves rather than having the proprietary nutrient companies control your harvest.
If your proprietary produces 2x the yield of a nominal NPK program, then you have pretty clear answer of what to use. But if your proprietary only produces say 15% more product than NPK , the additional cost of the proprietary may not be warranted.
But there are other points made in favor of proprietaries such as improved flavor and we should be running trials to see what really does effect flavor ... we might find it's post harvest processing (as with tobacco) that has the biggest influence. Certainly a crop can be easily destroyed in drying and curing.
Without trials, we wander through the wilderness. With trials, we can direct operational changes based on science, not marketing brochures.