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By: Mike Sassano If you’ve ever watched the last season of Narcos, you might think growing in a desert like the Mojave would be normal. But four years ago when Solaris was conceived, not many desert areas were growing vegetables, let alone cannabis. The abundance of sun, low humidity, and low contaminates matters less when […]

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By: Mike Sassano

If you’ve ever watched the last season of Narcos, you might think growing in a desert like the Mojave would be normal. But four years ago when Solaris was conceived, not many desert areas were growing vegetables, let alone cannabis. The abundance of sun, low humidity, and low contaminates matters less when faced with the challenge of how to beat an environment unfriendly to many plants and animals. Today, most large growers are beginning to realize the cost savings and benefits associated with hybrid greenhouses in the desert; however it takes a special skill to be successful in growing top shelf flower in one of the hottest places on Earth to supply the demand of one of the hottest cannabis markets: Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is home to some of the most unique grows in America because it is the marketing mecca of cannabis. Being successful in Vegas requires making world class genetics that become premium bud; this means they test consistently above 25% THC, above 30% cannabinoids, and have the right terpene mix for customer satisfaction. The entire industry is transitioning to greenhouses from the underground indoor style, and those growers that cannot, or will not, adapt are getting priced out of the market by hybrid greenhouses that have the most reduced costs of production. 

Here is the breakdown of a very complex style of growing and the mechanics to building the only logical design: a hybrid greenhouse. Firstly, it’s important to take advantage of the abundance of sun. Why would anyone choose not to use the natural powers of the Vegas sun? It is rarely cloudy in the desert. Utilizing the power that is right in front of you cuts down on the use of resources like electricity. 

Secondly, the dry environment of the Mojave, which averages about 8% rainfall a year, is conducive to evaporative cooling, which has a significant cost savings on electricity usage. Those two factors alone reduce electric bills from anywhere between 50% to 90% depending on your mechanicals. At the 90% savings mark, you would be using open air evaporative cooling, and because of the low contaminates in the Mojave Desert, a good IPM program will work well for passing flower. Because of the serious lab testing environment required by Las Vegas and Nevada, a better solution is a closed loop evaporative cooling system which recycles the inside air. 

The third point- a greenhouse is more economical to build then a warehouse since it is only steel and polycarbonate. They are definitely more economical than converting an old warehouse. With all of these savings, you can concentrate on making the top genetics possible, which is no small feat, but all that Vegas will accept.

Since growing cannabis in the desert using hybrid greenhouse is high-tech, growers need computer efficiency on top of  a horticulture background including serious knowledge of cannabis strains. Just because a genetic grows well in California or any other area, doesn’t mean it will grow well (or adapt to) the Las Vegas environment. In fact, any new genetic to a region becomes different. So, starting from many seeds and having a precise breeding program and phenotyping mapping is the only way to constantly turn out superior genetics. Since cannabis never existed naturally in Las Vegas, this process was a costly experience that most never envisioned and only the brave have undertaken. Now, Vegas is home to a variety of great growers turning out all kinds of bud, and brands making every kind of product with it all. But the hybrid greenhouse is the only tool for creating great bud and producing enough of it to compete at any price level, despite large taxation in the locality. The more advanced your greenhouse is, the better you should be able to control the environment. Las Vegas is pushing the limits with the hottest tech and genetics.

Solaris Farms was the first ground-up built hybrid greenhouse in Las Vegas, and after over one and a half years creating its own genetics, has a full menu of top strains that rival smaller indoor grows. We have the ability to undercut competitors to gain footholds in dispensaries and now are one of fifteen grows that can deliver consistent size with highest quality. The final phase build out to add 300,000 sq ft of an even newer design is six months from the start, and about one year from opening. But in the meantime, Solaris’ buds and branding will continue to improve and will be one of the top grows in Nevada for the foreseeable future.

Michael Sassano is the Founder and CEO of www.solarisfarms.org, a high-tech desert hybrid greenhouse in Nevada. Primarily, Mike has been an early stage investor and partner in many grows, brands and cannabis companies which were public, later went public or were sold to public companies. Three years ago, he invested, designed, built and manages one of the largest scale hybrid greenhouse projects in Nevada. When fully built out by 2020, Solaris Farms will be approximately 350,000 square feet of an advanced high tech desert hybrid greenhouse. His vision of the industry, inside depth of investment knowledge for companies in the cannabis space, and happiness to share with others has helped him to get world wide exposure. And he has a deep vision for the pharmaceutical markets of Cannabis in EU.

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