2016 – Present
Culta won one of 15 merit-based license applications in the state of Maryland serving 99 medical cannabis dispensaries and has since developed a reputation for being a premier supplier of top-quality medicinal cannabis. Upon issuance of the vertically integrated license, Bickel Consulting became principal cultivation directors of the company and managed the startup of the first cultivation grow area, and since that time has doubled the indoor cultivation are and expanded into outdoor cultivation of three acres of total area, including one acre of state-of-the-art retractable roof greenhouses systems.
Bickel also assisted with the entire process from conceptual business philosophy and mission, cultivation facility startup, all the way through post-harvest operations and deployment of product to market. Culta has established themselves as the premier high-end provider of top-quality cannabis flower and products in the Maryland market.
Below is a summary of all the projects Bickel Consulting has managed and implemented for Culta from 2016 until present day:
Phase 1 Indoor Facility:
The first grow area built within 15,000 ft² of existing warehouse space. This facility was one of the first in the country to deploy LED lighting systems on a large scale. Also utilized high end HVAC systems, multi-tiered and mobile rack systems, and automatic fertigation systems. This phase started the first planting rounds while the facility was still under construction, and successfully hired a full staff and completed the first harvest within 4 months, which tied in with the successful completion of all construction. At this point production was in full perpetual harvest cycling and has had ongoing success in cultivation high quality flower and biomass.
Phase 2 Indoor Facility:
This expansion project doubled the indoor footprint for cultivation, while tripling the canopy. The Phase 2 expansion included full multi-level racks in flowering and vegetative rooms to capture as much canopy as possible and implemented state of the art LED lights, HVAC systems, climate automation technologies, and automatic fertigation systems throughout. This phase also added a laboratory grade tissue culture facility designed by Bickel Consulting in conjunction with Crosby Architectural (local architects). This laboratory area will provide micropropagation for all future production and allow for implementation of genetic manipulation strategies to rejuvenate plant health and increase disease resistance and overall vigor for better chemotype expressions.
Outdoor Production Areas:
Development of land for outdoor cultivation utilizing organic living soil, no till production practices. The first Clean Green certified organic grow in the state of Maryland and uses no synthetic fertilizers or pesticide during any step of the process. Designed and built intensive land development strategies as the existing land was poorly drained, contaminated soils from previous industrial uses, and had an exceptionally high water table consisting of brackish water from the Chesapeake Bay. The land was excavated and redeveloped to provide natural drainage systems and percolate water away from plant roots to optimize growth and plant health. This system also utilized a drainage collection pond, which was planted with native plant species to use up any residual plant nutrient that is lost through regular leachate before it reenters the natural bodies of water. Currently cultivating on 3 acres of outdoor production and achieving aggregate biomass yields of 1 ton per acre, per season, with plans to add 10 more acres of production in the next 3 years.
Cravo Retractable Roof Greenhouse:
This system is located within the outdoor production area and captures 1 acre of total area for production. This system is a highly efficient greenhouse system, that has retractable roof and wall systems to create a hybrid strategy of greenhouse and outdoor cultivation styles for several unique strategies and benefits. By closing the walls and roof completely, plants are protected from cold, heat, wind, rain, and hail; by opening the roof and walls completely plants are able to maximize the natural elements of full sunlight, fresh air movement, and natural watering from rain events. This system is automated with climate sensors and a weather station to program unique strategies for manipulating interior climate conditions in accordance with the active weather conditions. The system also utilizes automated retractable shade cloths to protect plants from high intensity sunlight, and light deprivation curtains to harvest multiple crops in one growing season.
Head House Facilities:
The head house building supports all the outdoor cultivation, harvesting, and post-harvest activities. This facility was a retrofit of a historic 60,000 ft2 warehouse. Included building repair and revitalization as well as build out of state-of-the-art indoor cultivation facilities with LED light systems, automated climate technologies, multi-tier mobile rack systems, and state of the art water filtration, conditioning, and irrigation systems. This facility also has large drying, curing, and harvesting sections to support the tasks associated with harvest and post-harvest for all outdoor operations.
Micropropagation Facility Startup:
Worked directly with employees on site to start up the micropropagation facility built out on the Phase 2 indoor space. Provided high level guidance on studies and SOPs to follow for initial tissue culture practices and experiments. Successful implementation of nodal propagation, and hedging technique using multiple nutrient solutions and agar mixtures. Successful rooting and transfer back to cultivation areas to begin new mother plants to be used in regular clone production. Working with tissue culture consultants to further expand the capabilities of the ground staff and focusing on high output cloning production in anticipation of the outdoor season for 2022.
Future Indoor Expansion:
Working with ownership and design team on a 100,000 ft² indoor facility that will utilize historic warehouse space on the existing property. The proposed facility will have over 60,000 ft² of flower canopy, multi-tier mobile racking, LED lighting, fertigation, irrigation, and climate automation systems. Working directly with HVAC design specialist to create a high efficiency chiller/boiler system that utilizes co-gen gas generators, geothermal wells, and other sustainable practices to produce 100% of facility power in house.