From Carnations To Cannabis
After two decades growing poinsettias, succulents and carnations in their Salinas Valley greenhouses, the Hackett family was ready to try something new. In 2016, when the winds of change blew in a new era of commercial cannabis production in California, Mike Hackett, along with his daughters Michelle and Lauren, decided to create an entirely new chapter in the Riverview Farms story.
After an initial six-month trial period using their existing wooden greenhouses, which were covered in aging polycarbonate, the Hacketts saw huge potential in cannabis as a commercial crop. It was clear, however, that some strategic greenhouse upgrades would be required to turn their four flowering greenhouses into growing environments that could support a high-quality, high-yield crop capable of multiple rotations throughout the year. That’s when the real research began.
The Hacketts reached out to Systems USA Inc. to learn everything they could about creating an ideal greenhouse environment for growing commercial cannabis. While owner and President, Peter Fryn, presented a variety of options for retrofitting their existing wood-frame greenhouses, ACRYLITE® Resist high impact UV transmitting acrylic was the clear winner for growing cannabis.
According to Peter, who regularly works with growers looking to replace greenhouse coverings, ACRYLITE® Resist isn’t the cheapest option, but the many advantages it offers for cannabis crops make it a very compelling choice. These advantages include:
- Increased light transmission of up to 89%, compared to 72% for 16mm polycarbonate.
- The ability to transmit UV light through the covering to the crop.
- Significant energy savings and reduced CO2 emissions.
- 30-year non-yellowing and 10-year light transmission warranties.
- Absence of fogging.
- A patented NO DRIP anti-condensate control coating.
Today, with dozens of successful cannabis crops grown under ACRYLITE® Resist behind her, Riverview Farms President, Michelle Hackett can attest to its advantages, “ACRYLITE® creates an ideal environment for our sun-grown cannabis. Drenching the plants in all that natural UV light results in a much larger bud structure with denser buds and a higher level of consistency across the crop,” says Michelle.
And that light lasts! In his over three decades selling ACRYLITE® products, Peter Fryn has concluded that there is very little light loss over time compared to other covering options, “ACRYLITE® is a top-shelf product for any crop, but for cannabis its ability to transmit constant UV light for the long haul is a huge factor. You don’t experience light loss every year like you do with coverings like poly. I have growers who installed ACRYLITE® all the way back in 1983 who are still getting great light coming through,” says Peter.
But generating higher yields of a higher quality crop isn’t the only way ACRYLITE® Resist is helping cannabis growers like Riverview Farms build a better balance sheet. “Being able to grow 365 days a year is a huge advantage of ACRYLITE®. We have a high-quality, perpetual crop coming out of our greenhouses every 30 days. Even in the gloomier winter months, when a lot of other cannabis growers are having to put their operations on hold, we’re still generating a very sizeable harvest,” says Michelle.
Energy savings from ACRYLITE® are another significant bottom line builder for Riverview Farms, “Cannabis thrives in a warm environment, and keeping your greenhouses at higher temperatures can be costly. Covering our greenhouses with ACRYLITE® has generated energy savings of between 30 and 40% for our operations. That doesn’t just save us a significant amount of money, reducing our farm’s carbon footprint also contributes to Riverview Farms’ sustainability efforts, which is a huge priority for us,” says Michelle.
The last five years have been a whirlwind of growth for the Riverview Farms team, but looking back on the path they’ve taken, Michelle is confident they’ve made the right choices on their journey from flower farm to commercial cannabis operation, “Riverview farms is on an incredibly exciting path right now. We’ve never been in a better position in the history of our business. We’ve caught our stride and I think our greenhouses are a key differentiator that has set us apart from a lot of other growers. We took the time to source the right materials, we’ve made the right investments in our greenhouses, and as we continue to expand our operations in the future, ACRYLITE® will remain a key ingredient of our business plan.”