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In this lesson, Cameron discusses the procedures for transplanting in a professional grow operation.
Hey guys it’s Cameron. Today we’re going to be talking about transplanting.
So transplanting is something that is very labor intensive and time consuming, so today we’re going to be talking transplanting in rockwool a little bit. Transplanting in rockwool is going to be the least labor intensive and the cleanest and the simplest and is going to create the least amount of disturbance to your plants, and most notably the root zone of your plants.
One of the reasons we really like rockwool for our growing medium is that every time we transplant you’re not disturbing the root zone. So when you go from your rooting plug and into your cube, it’s a one time and done. Unless you are growing a plant that’s extraordinarily big, you’re going to stay in that cube for the entire life cycle. In the off chance that we’re selecting mothers and holding those mothers back, we might take that cube and set it into another cube, but the real takeaway from this is that by stacking cubes you aren’t disturbing the root zone, you aren’t creating transplant shock, and you are letting that plant really reach its full potential. Every time you get transplant shock, you’re slowing down growth for 2-3 days.
When it comes to using media other than rockwool, we run into some potential efficiency problems in our production. First being the amount of labor that’s required. You generally need multiple steps, you need someone to lay out the pots, you need someone to fill the pots, you need someone to pop the small plant out of the small pot and place it into the larger pot, and then you need someone to remove that pot put it onto a cart and wheel it off to the room. So right out the gate you’re talking at least four people and multiple steps for those people.
In addition to the labor that’s required for the transplanting, you are necessarily pulling labor from other parts of your production facility. So generally in the past what I’ve found is a facility that is well staffed and not over staffed, you have a crew that is more or less a flex crew, so this is a crew that sometimes is harvesting, sometimes is packaging and sometimes is transplanting. The labor requirements for transplanting are such that you don’t want to have any production scheduling problems. You can’t be harvesting and transplanting on the same day because most production schedules have balanced labor in such a way that you will actually need to outsource labor or bring in additional labor if you are trying to do these two tasks at the same time.
So in addition to the labor constraints when transplanting into a container based system, we also run into a problem when it comes to cleaning, so in addition to the labor that’s required to transplant, we also need additional labor to clean these pots. We also have the space that’s required that is required to dry these pots. In additional to all that, we also probably need a three compartment sink much as you would find in a restaurant scenario, so you would need a sink for soap and a sink for sanitizer and another sink for fresh water, and then additionally you’re going to need a whole bunch of extra square footage to stack these pots up. The pots have to be dried inverted, upside down and you basically have to dry them in a massive pyramid, and so the square footage that’s required to dry let’s say 1000 pots that are let’s say five-gallon in size, you need one square foot per pot and you can do the math.
Another potential constraint when using traditional media in a container based system is the amount of dust that’s kicked up during the transplanting process. Frequently you’re going to end up with dust all over your computer and all over your materials and all over the rest of your facility. It clogs up the filters in your HVAC system, and it’s just a real mess. You’re going to want to have an area of the facility that is cordoned off potentially with plastic curtains. You’re going to need extra fans for ventilation to keep the dust down. You’re going to have staff breathing masks on, so all of these are potential problems and constraints that can occur when transplanting with traditional loose media.
The transplanting process with a container-based system and a loose media, another time constraint in the container-based system is the additional transplanting that is required. In this container system you’re going to go from rapid rooter plug, into a 4X4 pot, and then again into a number three or number five pot. Each one of these steps is a whole nother cycle with a whole new crew of people and a whole new onslaught of steps. In a rockwool based system we would normally go from plug to final resting cube: the 6inx6inx6in cube, and that’s how it would run through the system. You might be asking, “well, why don’t I just go from plug into my three-gallon container or my five-gallon container?” The reason we don’t do that is because the plug is so small and the container is so big that we start to run into problems when it comes to watering. We get strange formations with roots because the way we’re watering in a commercial cultivation facility is automated watering. If you’re watering by hand in a commercial cultivation facility, you have already lost the battle, you are not competitive, Because we’re watering with an automated system, we’re going to have drippers in our pots. When you put a small plug into a large container, you run the risk of having strange watering that’s only running down two sides of your containers, so you have roots that are only running down two sides of your containers. So you have a plant that is not really taking full advantage of the entire pot so you have a poor root mass, you have an inferior plant that is giving you a yield that is less than what you would expect.
In addition to what I just mentioned, when you go from a plug into a five-gallon container, consider the space requirements for this. In a system that has let’s say three veg stages, a number five container has about a twelve-inch diameter so we’re talking about one square foot of space for one plant. A plug that goes into a rockwool cube that’s six inches by six inches, you could get four plants in that same space. What that means on your veg side is you’re going to need four times the space for each stage of the veg cycle so if you’ve got two or three stages in your veg cycle, you’re going to need that much more space through each of those. So it really really starts to constrict the amount of space you have left over for flowering. So my recommendation when container gardening is to go from rapid rooter plug into a 4×4 container, give it about two weeks in the 4×4 container then up-plant to the number three or number five container where it can spend 2-4 weeks in veg before it goes out to flower.
So if you like what you heard here in the transplanting section, please refer to the course notes and please stay tuned for our next section.
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