Shortly before Nevada voted in adult, recreational cannabis, James Bradley and his colleagues, Brett Stevens, and Ben Arnet started vetting a wide range of entrepreneurial opportunities within the industry including opening a retail shop, building a new cultivation facility or retrofitting an old one, they even sorted through a number of ancillary services. However, when company president, Arnet received word from an old school friend, their future became much brighter, literally.
CannabisTech caught up with Bradley, Chief Marketing Officer of Fohse, this week in a phone interview to discuss the launch of his company and their innovative new LED lighting system which is set to disrupt the cannabis lighting market in early 2019.
Avoiding the LED Graveyard
The high school friend who reached out to Arnet was Alex Gerard, an engineer with experience working for technology giants such as Boston Scientific and Medtronic. Additionally, he had been working on a side project designing an LED light specifically for cannabis. Although Alex was confident in his design, he needed their expertise in business to bring the idea to life. And so, a partnership formed and they started vetting the technology.
With a prototype in hand, they approached GB Sciences, a cannabis cultivation and biopharmaceutical research facility in Las Vegas. Despite having tested all other LED lighting applications, (which Bradley pointed out were all now piled in a corner in a makeshift, LED graveyard of sorts) the team at GB Sciences agreed to give Fohse LED lighting systems a chance. Bradley stated, “They put our lights in as an afterthought, but they performed very well – growing side by side with their HPS lights. At this point, we knew we had something special on our hands.”
Speaking the Plants Language
Many cultivators are hesitant to move to LED lighting entirely. While the energy cost savings initially looks appealing, many growers are quickly turned off by the less than stellar yields due to the lack of power. Bradley explained, “Many LED lights are designed for other types of horticulture applications. Some might be for low profile plants like strawberries, while others are designed for taller plants like tomatoes – few manufacturers designed for cannabis specifically.”
While they realized power was a significant factor in why other LEDs failed, their primary goal with their lighting system went much more in-depth. Bradley continued, “Our high-powered lights come with a spectrum which matches what we’ve learned about cannabis. Essentially, we’ve learned how to speak the plant’s language.”
Through a process called “photomorphogenesis,” plants use light to determine certain development factors. By responding to different spectrums and wavelengths of light, the plant develops accordingly. Different ratios of wavelengths help the plant to identify how long to make stems, how broad to grow their leaves, or how thick to build their roots. By manipulating the light the plants receive, growers can practically tell their plants how to grow.
Models Currently Available
While the A3i is scheduled for production starting in January, Fohse is also developing other lighting systems for deployment later in 2019.
- The Flagship, A3i – this 1500 watt LED fixture has multiple spectrum modes and a PPF of 2,950 uMol/s. Designed for flowering, this fixture is already sold out for their first production run with more than 5,000 units pre-sold.
- The F1V – this fixture, designed for vertical applications or vegetative phases, comes in either 630 or 800 watts, providing a PPF of 1,840 uMol/s.
- The O6i – Not set to hit the market until Spring, this LED fixture is designed explicitly for supplementing greenhouse lighting. Using sensor technology, this fixture actually determines whether or not your crop is getting the recommended daily light integral necessary.
Bradley mentioned the biggest advantage with Fohse LEDs is the ceramic coating used. Other LEDs use a plastic coating which basically renders the lights useless in two to three years.
The Results Speak for Themselves
Shocked by the initial results, the prototype used by GB Sciences became the launch point for Fohse LED lighting. Although the company has yet to move into a full-production environment, today, the company is already sold-out on 5,000 pre-orders for their first production run of their flagship model, the A3i fixture, which is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, the F1V Vegetative lighting is also nearing production phases with more than 500 fixtures pre-sold and another 200 fixtures being installed next week in Michigan according to Bradley.
While the company is just set to launch their first production run at the beginning of the year, they anticipate much research in their future. Partnering with Christopher Sloper, who literally wrote the book on LED lighting for cannabis, they are excited to bring an added level of education and standardization to the industry.