A Guide to Growing Marijuana In Shipping Containers
It doesn’t matter what stage you are at on your marijuana growing journey - growing in shipping containers could be incredibly beneficial. This applies to hobbyists experimenting with upping their yield for supplying family and friends, as well as enthusiasts keen on getting in on the explosion in medicinal cannabis and CBD.
In this article we’ll go through all the factors you need to bear in mind when choosing the kind of shipping container or set up to take your project forward.
Benefits of Growing Marijuana in Shipping Containers
Based on the growth rates in states where cannabis has already been legalized, the market for legal cannabis sales in the US is expected to grow to over $20 billion by 2021.
As the industry advances, it becomes more embedded in every aspect of life. You can take cannabis industry-related degrees at university, there is a vibrant cannabis consulting industry as well as offshoot sectors in cannabis extracts and edibles. Marijuana is here to stay and set to grow. It's not just the USA - across Europe, South Africa and Latin America the wave of decriminalization and legalization is gathering pace.
With these exciting forecasts for growth, many cannabis industry growers want to scale up their business to make the most of this opportunity. But even those growing for personal use will be interested in maximizing their output from their growing space. If your space is a spare room or a backyard tent, the options are very limited. In either case, grow space is a huge factor in your cannabis operation.
A number of technologies come together to create a new way of approaching this problem, with learning from mainstream agriculture, indoor farming and even NASA’s experiments growing food in space! All these and more have led to the introduction and popularity of the shipping container for growing marijuana.
Using Shipping Containers to Growing Cannabis Means Freedom
Finding a suitable space for growing marijuana can be a challenging task. Even in states where cannabis is legalized, there are strict regulations governing locations. Frequently growers must observe distances from schools, libraries, and parks, among other public buildings. This can make finding indoor cannabis growing space quite overwhelming and tricky.
On top of this, zoning regulations and insurance policies may mean that building owners will not be able to let you rent space. Even if you find space you will need to ensure it’s secure and perhaps have some privacy from prying eyes.
Using shipping containers to grow marijuana in this sense gives significant freedom of choice for the location as well as privacy. The shipping containers are standard sizes: 40ft or 20ft long. They only need flat ground and access to water and electricity. They are airtight and portable so you can grow anywhere. Downtown Anchorage not working out? You could transport your entire facility to Southern California. Changing location is easier than moving house.
With a shipping container, the environment is sealed airtight and completely controllable - light, heat, humidity and airflow can be fine-tuned and monitored to create the perfect environment as your plants grow. Done properly this can maximise yield and give you a greater choice of crop. Even if you are a hobbyist you can still benefit from a shipping container.
Not only can you end up with top-grade buds, but you can also share a small facility with other hobbyists to create a private club of growers. Many growers are also considering the benefits of growing marijuana in shipping containers as part of a communal grow space.
Getting a share in a communal marijuana to grow space using shipping containers can even give you the opportunity to test the water before stepping up to become a full commercial marijuana grower, without having to take on burdensome debt and still setup a reliable and well-functioning indoor growing space on your own.
For example, you could start with a 20-foot box with some friends or fellow enthusiasts to start a communal grow and learn more about the techniques. Then eventually you can go with a 40-foot box with more people. You can still share the costs of fitting out and infrastructure. Sound crazy? It’s a business model already popular in container farming in Brooklyn.
Professional commercial cannabis growers will know that more control means higher cost and operating capital. On the one hand, having an enclosed and controlled environment means container farm grown cannabis has fewer issues with pests, powdery mildew or mold while improving yield and quality.
Only you can judge if the increase in cost will work for your business. But it may be that simple tried and tested greenhouse growing operations might be more economically efficient than marijuana in shipping containers, especially if you are operating alone for the first time.
If you are thinking about creating a cannabis extraction business, then ending up with a slightly decreased quality and/or potency of the end product as the extraction process is more critical to your product. However if you want to get into the dried cannabis flower market you will not be able to make such compromises.
Choosing Shipping Containers for Growing Weed
There are basically two choices for shipping containers for growing weed:
- Turnkey professional grade marijuana grow shipping containers - sold specifically for the purpose of cannabis cultivation
- DIY commercial shipping containers that can be repurposed for cannabis cultivation.
Your major choice with a turnkey container is size. Most suppliers will provide 20ft or 40ft units optimised for your crop. These containers will typically come with a built-in lighting system, ventilation, entry/exit, as well as humidity and temperature control systems, usually connected to a cloud-based internet dashboard.
You will need to connect the shipping containers to reliable sources of water and power and then you’re ready to start growing. Even the different stages of the marijuana plants’ development are catered for so your plants are supported throughout their lifecycle from cloning, vegetation, and all the way up to flowering and curing.
If you choose the DIY route, the upfront initial investment will be much lower compared to a turnkey professional grade marijuana grow shipping container. However, you will have to do all the hard work of upgrading the commercial shipping container yourself.
The shipping container itself can be ordered online for delivery. Some suppliers will allow you to customize the shipping container slightly depending on your personal needs for example size or layout or access panels, but expect to have to make some adaptation for entry/exit ports, insulation and drywalling. There are plenty of guides available online to customize your commercial shipping containers to show you how to do this. You can also order cleaned reclaimed shipping containers but beware of damage - these steel boxes have had a hard life!
You will also need to consider electrical panels and outlets, floor drains, water connection stub, and ventilation ducts and ports, among others items for customization.
Once you pick a suitable commercial container that comes in the right size and possesses the right features you need you will need to fit it out. This means installing your preferred arrangement for crops and then ensuring you have the right grow lights, fans and/or filters. You will also make use of all the traditional indoor marijuana growing equipment such as thermometers, pH test kits, suitable growing medium, dehumidifiers and other smaller items in order to maintain a perfectly-balanced environment.
Whether you opt for professional grade cannabis grow shipping containers, or go down a DIY route, one thing is certain – you can grow cannabis all-year-round with tremendous success.
Whatever your situation, proper research matters when choosing a suitable shipping container. Combine this with a little planning and you’re one step closer to a long term enterprise success.
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