Hemp Lighting Research Facility Shines Light on Cannabis Cultivation

by | Mar 30, 2020

Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

Hemp Lighting Research Facility in Niwot, Colorado

Based out of Niwot, Colorado, Black Dog LED’s newest move has doubled its warehouse space and allowed it to create its R&D facility. The company is growing hemp at this location to study the effects of LED lighting on cannabis plants in general. 

Prior to social distancing requirements, Cannabis Tech’s Kristina Etter had the honor to meet with the CEO of Black Dog LED, Noah Miller, and their head scientist Kevin Frender for a tour of their new facility on this installment of A Tech Moment. 

Black Dog LED’s Research Intends to Soothe the Curious 

Growing every year, Black Dog LED has had a decade to evolve. Starting first with basement growers, and now seeing serious investors get interested, Black Dog LED has been there for every major step of the cannabis industry. 

To explain their current stage, Noah Miller said, “We had a few goals when we set up the R&D facility. Primarily, first and foremost, it was a place for us to do research. We could research on a small scale, but we wanted the ability to use a larger number of plants to do legitimate research. So, for example, we have 108 plants while in the past we might have been able to play with 4 to 9 plants in a tent. Now that we have the space, we can have a larger number of plants and get more solid research.”

Their growth to a larger facility allows their work to carry more authority. Also, by working with hemp, it keeps all of their work federally legal, which means, among other things, that it can be peer-reviewed. Private sector investment in cannabis research will continue to be a driving force throughout the 2020s. Miller supplies this research to empower the customer to make the most informed decision possible. 

“One of the largest costs of your operation, if you’re setting up a grow, is lighting,” Miller explained. “So, we always encourage customers, look, if you’re going to spend this much money, you should come out and meet the team. See what we do. Check out our R&D facility and put eyes on it because I personally wouldn’t want to spend that much money without doing a little more research into the company. We can tell them [how our lights perform] all day, but nothing beats seeing it in person.” 

What Kind of Research Does Black Dog LED Perform? 

One of the ongoing studies by Black Dog LED is on the effect of defoliation on cannabis harvests. Defoliation is the trimming back of cannabis leaves to allow more light to penetrate lower in the canopy. It is thought to increase the quantity and quality of flower in a harvest. 

Describing the parameters of their tests, Frender said, “We divided each bench into 4 segments with 9 plants. So, it’s essentially a 4 by 4-foot area with 9 plants in it. We would either defoliate or not defoliate those blocks of 9 plants to see what would happen in the end.

“We’re running three simultaneous tests at the moment, one bench, for example, we did a test where we got 2 blocks that were not ever defoliated then 2 blocks of plants that were defoliated on the first day of flower as well as the 20th day of flower. Then we did another test on the other bench with plants that were defoliated just on day one of flower, and not again on day 20 of flower,” he added.

With methods such as this in place, Black Dog LED progresses towards major developments in the world of cannabis lighting. Their research has already found that defoliated plants stretch less while growing, contrary to what one would expect, and that defoliated plants grow with less dead plant matter than non-defoliated plants. The theory is that by training the plant to grow smaller leaves through removing them, light is more able to get through to the rest of the plant and provide more quality buds. 

“What drives the research we’re focusing on in the future is our customers,” Miller explained. “They have questions about their business. Should I be doing this? Is this an effective business practice that I should be doing in my grow, or am I going to waste money? In the end, we’re going to see okay we spent this much amount of time on defoliation, we got this amount of benefit, does one outweigh the other because there’s the plant side, but there’s also the financial side. We want to explore that and say yes, this is a good practice to employ in a commercial setting.” 

Always ready for change, criticism, and to look out for the consumer, Black Dog LED is here to make sure both they and their customers stay top dog. 

Light Spectrum with Black Dog LED

For quite a while, Black Dog LED has been looking into which light spectrum is ideal for maximizing flower production. Their spectrum keeps the leaves of the plants smaller so that light can get through the plant. The formula they’ve found works for cannabis as well as the hemp they’re growing. 

Hemp and cannabis research are relatively interchangeable because modern-day hemp is industrial hemp mixed with cannabis strains. Black Dog LED is confident in its research’s accuracy for the larger cannabis world. 

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