Jesse Elkins had already been growing cannabis for years when he got into work as an HVAC contractor in the mid-2000s. He drew on his experience as a grower in Washington state in various cultivation environments, and he was then able to bring that HVAC expertise back into the growing process.
That helped, because humidity has been one of those things that’s demanded a great deal of trial and error for Elkins and countless cannabis growers like him.
The two job duties went hand in hand. Elkins even helped consult other growers on proper HVAC set-ups. In 2007, Elkins and his brother started ClimaGrow, which turned into Grow Industries Inc. The company was formed to design cannabis cultivation facilities from the ground up. Their own 17,000-square-foot indoor facility in Seattle is a showcase for their design expertise. (A few years ago, Grow Industries took that work further and started doing the actual contracting work of cannabis facility build-outs.)
As Elkins and his team continued to develop grow facilities, they worked their way through a number of HVAC systems. Then, Elkins really began searching for a company that would build a custom HVAC design for specific cannabis cultivation needs.
“We always had a really hard time with humidity,” Elkins says of his years in the industry. Because cannabis cultivars come with very specific needs, environmental control—and especially proper humidity levels—is a vital backdrop to cultivation.
When Elkins landed on Accelerated Growth Solutions, he knew he’d found a winner.
The key, he says, is the company’s recognition that HVAC solutions must be tailored to each cannabis cultivation facility.
“I can call them up and say, ‘Look, I want 70 degrees and 50-percent ARH [average relative humidity] in week nine, lights off,’” Elkins says. “‘Here’s how much water I'm going to put in the room—let’s say 800 gallons in the prior 12 hours to the lights turning off. Now, you build me a piece of equipment for exactly what I'm looking for.’ And they were the first company that said, ‘Yes, we can do that.’” As the cannabis industry has grown across the U.S., Accelerated Growth Solutions has made the plant’s unique horticultural demands a focus of its product and service lines.
Right away, Elkins says he saw a good 30 percent of his time freed up. Gone were the days of continually adjusting his room’s humidity levels and changing his week-to-week watering process.
He also saw his yields increase from 1.5 pounds per light to more than 3 pounds per light. He doubled his gross income. Elkins phrases the revelation with a simple question: “Why would you want to spend all that time and money to get a pound and a half, when you could spend the exact same time and money to get double that?”
On the flip side, good humidity controls can prevent burdensome costs from building up. When growers unwittingly allow humidity levels to remain too high, problems like powdery mildew and bud rot can become a costly reality—and usually these problems are noticed too late to salvage a crop.
The best defense, then, is a strong HVAC system to efficiently regulate the environment of your growing facility.
“Environment is literally the most important part of growing,” Elkins says.