Learning from the Horticultural Industry at Cultivate’16

By Nic Easley

Cannabis industry professionals have the opportunity to not reinvent the wheel by learning from horticultural practices.

This past week, over 10,000 individuals traveled to Columbus, Ohio to attend Cultivate’16, a conference hosted by AmericanHort, an organization dedicated to leading and unifying the horticultural industry. Cultivate’16 had hundreds of vendors displaying the latest technology and equipment for greenhouse production, design and controls along with the latest innovations in software, manufacturing, automation and more.

For all of the energy surrounding the nascent cannabis industry, there was very little representation from it at Cultivate’16. Our associates encountered an estimated thirty cannabis industry professionals, compared to an estimated total of 10,000 attendees. This further compounds the reality that the cannabis industry is still a very young industry when compared with the more mature and well established industries such as conventional agriculture, finance, information technology and others.

At Cultivate’16, there was enormous potential for businesses in the cannabis industry to learn from the traditional horticultural industry. The horticultural industry has had to become extremely efficient with its capital, resources and time in a manner which the cannabis industry has not had to accommodate yet. There were automated container filling machines, cost effective nutrient solutions and greenhouses that are controlled wirelessly. Those were just a fraction of the products and systems that could save cannabis cultivators hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Horticulturalists have been forced through shrinking margins to increase their output and savings. The horticultural market is expanding at an average rate of 5% per year as opposed to the cannabis market which is currently growing at a rate of 68% year over year. Cannabis operators can still get anywhere from $1,200 to $1,400 a pound in most legal markets on the lower end. This is in comparison to basil at $4 a pound. This difference is stark. It means that cannabis cultivators are not under the same pressure to be efficient as other traditional crop cultivators. It is clear though that with increasing legalization of cannabis in both the medical and adult use markets that the price of cannabis will fall. Therefore, it would be wise for the cannabis professionals to attend events such as Cultivate’16 in greater numbers to prepare for the eventual decrease in price.

3C Consulting was present at Cultivate’16 because we understand the importance of looking to other successful industries for guidance. We were able to converse with a diverse array of vendors and business owners to further our own knowledge on the best practices to bring to the cannabis industry. To be able to learn from those that have come before you is a strength, not a weakness. Far too often the cannabis industry seeks to reinvent the wheel. It does not have to be this way.

By learning from other industries, utilizing the latest horticultural technology and becoming more cost-effective the cannabis cultivators will be able survive and thrive. It is those that prepare for turbulence that are best able to capitalize on change. In the Chinese language, the word for crisis is the same as the word for opportunity. It is wise to prepare for a crisis so that when it does occur you are able to transform it into an opportunity.

About The Author


  1. Bob Wilson

    Excellent article! I think Nic hits the nail on the head stating that the cannabis industry needs to learn from other industries. There is no need to go this alone. Technology (not a bad word) has developed cost effective options, in many arenas, that can be directly translated for cannabis cultivation. Obviously, as Nic indicates, technology advancements in the field of horticulture presents enormous opportunities, as do the new technologies associated with energy and water efficiency. Combined they can help ease the budding cannabis industry with a smoother transition into a market that will see lower costs per pound, more competition and a declining ROI for it’s investors.

  2. Kerrie B. Badertscher

    We at Otoke Horticulture were excited to be the first horticulture consulting company having a booth at Cultivate 2016. We are also authors of “Cannabis for Capitalists.” Otoke Horticulture met with over 350 new companies interested in Cannabis Production including 37 states and 8 countries. Yes, Cultivate is well worth attending and/or exhibiting. Great classes and everything a grower wants to see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *