Cannabis Yield & Revenue Calculator: Improving Cannabis CEA Profitability with Crop Steering & Microclimate Mapping

March 26, 2024by Grownetics Staff0

The difference between barely getting by and making enough revenue to scale your cannabis cultivation business can be a fine line. While sales & marketing are a challenge in any industry, supplying high quality potent cannabis consistently at scale poses an equal challenge for most commercial cannabis brands. Many people think the cannabis industry prints money but the reality is far different as cultivators bear far higher compliance costs, lack of best practices, and much higher tax burdens than any other business. As the costs associated with compliant cultivation rise, so does the demand for higher quality and yields. 

Let’s look at an all too common baseline scenario and compare it to what’s achievable with crop steering and microclimate mapping.

Common Baseline Scenario

Baseline revenue table for a 2,000sqft cannabis CEA facility

Not too bad for 2,000 sq ft of canopy, but the costs associated with cultivating at this level usually outweigh the profitability. As soon as price pressure increases these businesses fail. Low yields are usually an indicator of a systemic limiting factor in the business, whether process or equipment related.

Optimal Scenario

2000sqft Cannabis CEA cultivation facility Optimal Revenue table

This is the baseline we’d expect from a well run process and data driven cultivation. If truly firing on all cylinders we’ve even seen 3+ lbs a light at 6+ harvests per year but that would be considered exceptional. 

You can see without even accounting for a wholesale price increase due to quality and potency improvements that the data driven crop steering facility is adding ~$900K in additional revenue over the baseline scenario (per 2,000sqft). This is the competition, and of course the challenge is in achieving these levels of plant performance across facility type and scale. If we take into account expected quality and potency improvements bringing the pound price from $1,100 to $1,600 you’d be looking at over ~$1.7M in total additional revenue per 2,000sqft. If we’re comparing the common baseline annual revenue of $825,000 vs the optimal baseline annual revenue of $2,500,000 these companies are not even in the same league, and is the difference between barely getting by and being able to grow the business and scale up. 

Navigating low yields, and the complexities of data driven cultivation can be a challenge, which is why we introduced Optima grow consulting in 2017 to support Cannabis cultivation companies in implementing proven SOP’s and best practices on facility design and data driven cultivation. This year we’re excited to announce a new 10 point quality and yield framework that we will be introducing for all Optima grow consulting clients. Stay tuned for more info and make sure you’re subscribed and following on all channels.

Understanding Common Limiting Factors to Yield


The Issue of Variability: VPD and Transpiration


Vapor Pressure Deficit (VPD) is a critical factor in cannabis cultivation that directly influences transpiration rates and plant performance. When VPD levels are too high, too low, or too variable, it can lead to suboptimal plant transpiration rates preventing nutrient uptake and absorption which leads to inconsistent growth and development. High VPD can cause plants to lose water too quickly, potentially leading to dehydration and stress, whereas low VPD can slow down the transpiration process, affecting nutrient uptake and potentially inviting mold or pathogens. Achieving the right VPD across your cultivation zones is thus essential for maintaining a consistent growing environment. However, without precise monitoring and mapping, maintaining optimal VPD can be challenging. This variability in transpiration not only affects plant health but also has a direct impact on the uniformity of crop quality and yield across different growing areas.


Rooting Out the Problem: Inconsistent Nutrient Uptake


Inconsistent nutrient uptake is a significant hurdle in commercial cannabis cultivation, often stemming from facility layout, irrigation and fertigation system design choices, and microclimate variations. When it comes to plant health, happy roots = happy plants since roots are the main channel through which plants absorb water and essential nutrients. When the environment within the root zone fluctuates too much, it can lead to patchy nutrient absorption, and a whole host of problems. From lack of oxygen, root rot, the substrate going hydrophobic (no longer able to absorb water), or the plant going beyond permanent wilting point. Factors contributing to uneven nutrient uptake include irregular watering, fluctuating temperatures, and are compounded by substrate variability or composition differences (whether growing in soil, coco, or rockwool). Growers need to ensure that each plant receives an optimal balance of nutrients and water, at exactly the right time, which requires precise control over both the canopy and root zone environments. Without addressing the root causes of these inconsistencies, growers will never hit optimal.


The Power of Microclimate Mapping and Crop Steering Sensors


Pinpointing Inconsistencies: Diagnosing Greenhouse Issues


Microclimate mapping and grow sensors provide an indispensable tool for pinpointing inconsistencies that contribute to issues in the greenhouse or indoor farm. By creating a detailed map of the different microclimates within a cultivation space, growers can visualize areas where conditions such as humidity, temperature, and light intensity vary. These variations often go unnoticed without the precise measurements provided by Grownetics wireless horticulture sensors. Once identified, growers can diagnose the root causes of these disparities, whether they are due to equipment malfunctions, suboptimal sensor placement, or structural problems within the cultivation. Armed with this information, growers can make cost effective informed decisions to adjust their grow automation systems, optimize environmental controls, and improve overall plant health. This level of diagnostic precision is key to maintaining a high-performance growing operation and ensuring that every plant reaches its full potential.


Overcoming Spatial Challenges: AC Ductwork and Temperature Gradients


Spatial challenges such as AC ductwork layout and temperature gradients are common issues that can create microclimates. Inconsistent airflow from AC systems can lead to cold spots or areas with stagnant air, which are detrimental to plant growth. Temperature gradients, where there is a significant temperature variation between different parts of the cultivation zone, can also stress plants and affect their development. To overcome these challenges, microclimate mapping plays a crucial role. They enable growers to track and analyze temperature distribution and airflow patterns, identifying areas where improvements are necessary. Adjustments to the positioning of AC ducts, fans, and the introduction of supplemental heating or cooling can then be made to ensure even climate conditions throughout the growing space. By addressing these spatial challenges, growers can create a more uniform growing environment that supports consistent plant growth, nutrient uptake, and maximizes yield.


Transitioning to High-Quality, Consistent Cannabis Production


The transition to high-quality, consistent cannabis production is significantly enhanced by the strategic use of microclimate mapping and crop steering sensors. These technologies enable growers to maintain an optimal environment for cannabis plants by providing actionable data on the micro-variations within their cultivation spaces. With this level of insight, growers can implement precise adjustments to their grow automation and greenhouse automation systems, leading to improved plant health and uniformity. Consistency in production is not only vital for meeting regulatory standards and customer expectations but also for establishing a strong brand reputation in the competitive cannabis market. By embracing the advanced capabilities of Grownetics wireless horticulture sensors, growers can fine-tune their operations, reduce resource waste, and achieve a level of product consistency that sets them apart. This commitment to quality and consistency through technological adoption is what defines the future of commercial cannabis cultivation. 


If you’d like to play with our yield and revenue calculator feel free to download a free copy of the spreadsheet here, and you can see another example of how the same scenario plays out at 10,000sqft below.

10,000sqft Cannabis CEA Revenue Scenario B

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