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Study Reveals Optimal Canopy Density for Small Growers

Phylos, PPR researchers conduct experiments to determine optimal plant density strategies for smaller grow operations.




Small-scale cannabis cultivators can maximize yield and profit by spacing plants at the highest possible density, according to a new study from Portland, OR-based research partners Phylos and Progressive Plant Research (PPR).

Cannabis and hemp growers are often challenged with choices about canopy density and its effect on yield. Plant density is known to affect biomass, extraction yield, cannabinoids, terpenes and other traits related to quality and quantity of cannabis and hemp product.

In an effort to find out optimal plant density strategies for smaller grow operations, Phylos and PPR employed five different density experiments in a day-neutral trial using two pot sizes (1-gallon and 2-gallon). The study resulted in a sample size of more than 1,000 plants and more than 9,200 data points collected. Findings from the study highlight how optimizing density treatments can improve crop efficiency and sustainability, according to the researchers.

The study was conducted using two varieties of Phylos’ recently introduced day-neutral (auto-flowering) cannabis genetics. Results of the study found varieties grown in 2-gallon pots at the highest density (0.5 sq. ft./plant spacing) produced more flower biomass and more flower extract yield per unit area. Using this density, growers can fit 20,000 plants in a 10,000 sq. ft. production space.

The study found that plants in 2-gallon pots produced taller, wider plants with larger individual flowers. However, lower-density plantings were found to produce a higher percentage of Grade A flower, marketable as higher-priced, top-shelf dispensary flower. But in terms of crop profitability, the increase in quality did not compensate for the lower yield resulting from less dense plantings. Researchers found that growing at higher densities for higher yield maximized the return on production costs, including electricity, nutrient and water requirements.

Cannabinoid content (total THC, minor cannabinoids, and terpenes) was found to remain consistent between all density treatments tested in the study.


“The density trial demonstrates a huge economic advantage achieved from a high density production treatment,” Phylos vice president John McFerson
said in a statement.

“Our customers seek maximum profitability for their production environments and can be assured that Phylos releases only the highest performers with robust ability to perform under a range of real grower conditions.

Phylos maintains an industry-leading database of cannabis genetics data. PPR is a dedicated research and cultivation partner of Phylos.

Brad Cheng is the digital editor of Global Cannabis Times, produced by SmartWork Media. Brad's journalism career spans working as an editor for PR Newswire, The Nation and The Santa Barbara News Press, and as Managing Editor of The Katy Courier, and publisher of Now This in Princeton. His career as a screenwriter took him into entertainment advertising, writing major film campaigns for studios and for HBO.



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