As I grew into this job like the plants I grew with and still grow with, I find after 20+years doing this work there is still one majestic aspect that hypnotizes me.
That is entering into a fully flowering greenhouse or large indoor facility where several cloned plants are being grown in a technique known as a Sea of Green (SOG): maximum growth and uniform height of a (cloned) plant that fits all possible growing area it is exposed to with a rapid crop turnaround.
I wish to dedicate this article to some aspects of a commercial farming principles absorbed into our rapidly expanding Cannabis industry…where these aspects are about to occur considering the growth spurt we are engaged in at present.
SOG initially was developed as an economic tool for maximising space to flower production per crop per year. Clone growers are well aware of this technique if they are well experienced with a particular strain.
Since seed plants differ in many ways and the flower quality and quantity are not known on the first round of flowering, it pays to do a selection of a mother that responds well in a particular room with whatever style of growing is in action there.
To play it really safe and keep alternatives open i would advice a grower to always keep the 2 or 3 best females alive and run them in quantity in the same room to be sure of all things as sometimes the seed mother selected may falsely respond well at first crop but not do it again when you count on it!
SOG is the same principle as a recipe for a chocolate cake.
The principle and recipe with a cloned strain reaches a desired result usually related to the grams produced with a set price in mind if product reaches a standard quality.
It means all different growers can take the same plant and grow more or less the same grams per square meter in the same time frame.
The population needs X tonnes of tomatoes each season and if the production is on time and of an accepted quality standard based on quality of end product tests, a known market price is paid.
The price fluctuates according to supply and demand and of course whether the product is seasonal or all year round in production. These are the basic principles of agro-economics.
Sea of Green has differences in methods but the generally accepted principle is based on commercial cropping like using cloned tomato plants on Rockwool slabs to maximise yield, continuous harvesting and logistics to running a farm with workers. Basically it uses all available growing area to produce a standardized plant by manipulating the pruning of a plant to secure a desired height and breadth of a grow.
Maximum yield and quickness in turnaround of crops are the major aspects that motivated this technique. Perfect for small grow areas to largest greenhouses. SOG incorporates a recipe that if followed will increase the grams per m2 per light output. So why did this become a growing method and how did it originate!
In the 8 years I served in Holland; probably one of the most commercially minded European countries outside of the USA, where the ends must be economically viable for the time and costs put into the project, I learnt a lot about the pot business. So seeing a grow room with 10 lamps, ventilators,
tanks etc…as a set up cost of say 20K euros, and with a monthly set of expenses plus staff it is easy to see what sort of outcome you need to run it like a business…especially since risk factor was factored into the equation to redeem a profit and pay for all the investment of the room.
In Holland I learnt people were motivated by making good money for little usable space, minimum manual labour for the highest yields that could be achieved.
Since the clone business was readily available people could dedicate their entire room to flowering directly and therefore increase the number of crops per year compared to those growers who need to pre grow the plants in the same room…instead of separating it into a mother /clone room, and a flower room.
Actually it is practical economics for unregistered alternative employment initially brought about by coffee shop demands for different strains to keep on their menus. So one of the main constraints was to use
a strain that responds well, flowers quickly and yields well as well as on a menu in a shop…making it predominantly a clone based operation.
Purely from an agricultural point of view it is always a successful harvest when a grow room is encompassed with healthy green full flowering strains of whatever is the crop with no patches of soil.