Marijuana Business Magazine - February 2018

CULT¬VAT¬ON BUS¬NESS STRATEG¬ES P akalolo Supply Co. made his- tory on Oct. 28, 2016: The Fairbanks, Alaska, cannabis business conducted the state’s first legal recreational marijuana sale. But in the months that followed, the vertically integrated company faced a challenge that businesses in young marijuana markets often struggle to overcome: overwhelming demand in the face of limited supplies. “The name of the game that winter was keeping the doors open,” said Pakalolo co-founder Keenan Hollister. Using natural farming techniques, soil science and new lighting technology, Pakalolo devised a lean, efficient culti- vation strategy that trimmed costs and improved plant structure and yields. In the process, it also mostly kept up with overwhelming demand by gradually expanding its grow operations. “Our cultivation practices work really nicely for a vertically integrated Cultivating a Unique Strategy An Alaskan cannabis company relies on soil science, natural farming techniques and LED technology to improve its crop By Joseph Peña model, and it’s only going to get bet- ter as we expand,” Hollister said. Pakalolo’s cultivation strategy has relied on natural farming techniques and a transition from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights to more energy- efficient, light-emitting diodes (LEDs). That approach has presented its own challenges – namely, the methods Pakalolo uses aren’t widespread in the cannabis industry. So the com- pany doesn’t have a standard road map to follow and must instead rely on trial and error. “We see a lot of pretty high environmental-impact companies and we want to get away from that standard blueprint of a cannabis business and be something differ- ent, something more sustainable,” Hollister said. “It’s challenging – we could have followed a blueprint and known what we’d get in the end. But we chose this method, to develop a EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A lean, efficient cultivation strategy is key to a vertically integrated business’ success in a new market. Pakalolo Supply Co. co-founder Keenan Hollister shared these tips for natural farming techniques and lighting: • Pakalolo’s cultivators studied the natural farming methods developed in the 1960s by a Korean man, Cho Han Kyu; the approach is known as Korean Natural Farming. • You don’t have to buy name-brand nutrients; fermenting your own nutrients can cut costs and improve your plants’ terpene counts. • Plants can be grown in fungi- dominant soil beds that aren’t tilled, providing a more natural environment for your cannabis to thrive. • Full-spectrum LED lighting units can replace high-pressure sodium lighting and potentially cut your energy use by more than 40%. Pakalolo Supply Co. co-founder Keenan Hollister checks in on the cannabis, which grows in 4-foot-by-4-foot beds with soil that isn’t ever tilled. Photo by Robin Wood, courtesy of Pakalolo Supply Co. 80 • Marijuana Business Magazine • February 2018