Cannabis cultivators are the first point of contact in the seed-to-sale pipeline. The care and effort that cultivators put into the cultivation of cannabis plants are evident at every step of the process, and their hard work ultimately ensures that eager customers get the best products possible. Looking to improve your cultivation strategy and give your business a competitive edge? 

Cultivation expert and consultant, Mike Bruno, of Golden Ocean Solutions, sat down with us to give us an inside scoop on 5 expert-approved cultivation practices, so you can maximize your cultivation strategy and take your operation to the next level.

1. Improving & Streamlining Your Seed-to-Sale Pipeline

When it comes to cultivation, you need to examine your overall process with sharp eyes and be willing to adapt as new technology develops. First, consider where you are now and take an audit of your current process and techniques. What areas should you be considering?

  • Workflows & Standard Operating Procedures: SOPs help ensure that your business is getting the best results possible consistently. Examine your day-to-day operations at every level. When is the last time you checked in with staff to hear about their pain points and successes? Consider ways to build upon techniques that are working well, and reconsider strategies that aren’t.
  • Measuring harvest per year and grams/sq ft: How are your crops performing? Are your yields as bountiful as you hoped? Are you getting the most out of your grow setup space? Measure year-over-year growth to identify trends and potential issues. According to Mike, “Even a 5 grams/sq ft improvement in flower production can make all the difference in the world in running a successful cannabis business.”
  • IPM (Integrated Pest Management): Once you measure your harvest per year, you might discover that your pest management strategy could use some love. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) allows you to naturally control pests and avoid the need for pesticides on your plants – and it can be a great option if you’re looking to improve your crop yields and quality.
  • Cultivation techniques: Creating the perfect recipe to grow crops takes time and consideration. Plant density, light intensity, and fertilization are three major components of nailing a cultivation technique. Take stock of the data you’ve collected up to this point and outline clear goals for improving your process in the future.

2. Consider Your Cogs

    COGS, or cost of goods sold, is a term that refers to the costs associated with cultivating cannabis – and if you aren’t careful, those costs can become hefty. First, keep things in-house as much as possible, and don’t overproduce for the market. Struggling to keep COGS low? Consider how running a “lean cultivation” operation can help optimize production. Labor and energy are two of the biggest contributors to COGS, so if your COGS are higher than you would like them to be, examining those two areas is a great place to start.

    The name of the game is efficiency and quality, and you don’t want to sacrifice one for the other.  It’s also imperative to make the most of your facility by maximizing square footage and limiting major costs, like energy consumption, that will suck up a lot of your budget.

    The expert’s takeaway? According to Mike, “Optimization of cultivation operations, coupled with a sustainable growth strategy is key to executing a successful business plan. Now more than ever, with exuberant taxes, cumbersome regulations, and stiff competition, running “lean” is paramount for profitability in the cannabis industry.” 

    3. Prioritize Exceptional Employee Education

    What’s the major key you need to know to run a truly unforgettable grow operation?

    According to Mike, “If you want to run a world-class cultivation facility, you’re going to need a team that is invested in the “art” of cannabis cultivation.”

    Great cannabis cultivation is an exercise in reciprocity, when you put good in by investing in your employees, you get good out in your final product. Empower your team to work smarter together by prioritizing cultivation education and employee development. Remember, empowered employees are happy employees – and happy employees grow better plants.

    4. Developing a Business Model That Meets Your Needs

    Cultivators have a tricky challenge to meet when it comes to considering their operational strategies – you need to make sure your solutions meet the demands of your own unique business, the desires of consumers, and the needs of the plants and your employees. It’s important to remember that while all of these facets work in a symbiotic way, the needs of your cultivation business will vary from others. How do you find the perfect balance?

    According to Mike, “A successful cannabis business is a symbiotic relationship between the plant, C-suite, investors, cultivators, team members, and consumers. Sustainability and cooperation is a winning model.”

    5. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel…Yet

    Your first cannabis cultivation project isn’t the time to try to reinvent the wheel. Even experienced operators need a reliable and time-proven playbook to work from. Master the basics first by implementing reliable SOPs and building upon them with new industry technology that can optimize and improve the processes over time. When it comes to genetics, pick a few cultivars to do well consistently, then integrate new varietals.  In order to keep menus fresh, cultivators must know how to adapt SOPs to different cultivars’ unique needs and variations.  Remember:  each cultivation facility is different, so experience avoids problems. 

    Ready to take your cultivation strategy to the next level? ProCanna’s suite of industry-leading compliance software can help. Contact us today for a FREE consultation! 

    You can find out more about Mike Bruno, Founder and Principal Consultant at Golden Ocean Solutions, at