(This story has been updated from an earlier version.)
Facilities licensed by the Canadian government to cultivate cannabis as of June surpassed 11 million square feet (1 million square meters) for the first time, according to data shared with Marijuana Business Daily by Health Canada.
That’s up significantly from May 2017, when the total was only 2 million square feet.
Canada-based marijuana companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build up the industry’s cultivation capacity to meet expected exceptional demand when recreational sales kick off in October.
But cannabis still has a long way to go before it cracks the list of Canada’s top crops in terms of canopy space:
- Tomatoes, 59 million square feet
- Peppers, 53 million square feet
- Cucumbers, 39 million square feet
“I give it five years before cannabis gets to the level where it could be one of the largest greenhouse/indoor crops grown in Canada,” said Mohyuddin Mirza, a cultivation expert and president of Dr. Mirza Consultants.
Canada currently has 114 licensed cannabis producers and another 500 in the pipeline.
Mirza said cultivators starting from scratch will struggle to achieve scale and hit their cultivation targets.
Problems he expects them to face include:
- Finding optimal growing media
- Perfecting organic growing at scale
- Managing weeds and insects at scale
- Managing carbon dioxide and mildew at scale
“Like we do with standard greenhouse crops right now, that knowledge has to develop,” Mirza said. “Research capacity has to improve to sustain this industry for a longer period of time.
“Commercial knowledge has to be applied.”
Matt Lamers can be reached at email@example.com
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