Marijuana Business Magazine May-June 2019

May-June 2019 | 129 of three independent businesses led by CEO Alex Seleznov. Within a year, the firm became part of the now verti- cally integrated company Advanced Extraction. Since then, GGS has seen exponential growth of hemp produc- tion in Colorado and beyond. When the U.S. Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, it led to unprecedented new opportunities in hemp, prompting more farms to seek hemp licenses. This, in turn, has spurred demand for verifiable, sustainably grown, high-quality hemp clones and seeds. Jason Stephenson, Greenhouse Growing System’s facility and pro- duction manager, said the operation is counting on this growth as it builds on decades of experience in orna- mental horticulture to scale up pro- duction of organic hemp clones that it can ship to cultivators nationwide. Celebrating Experience GGS enjoys a seasoned staff from Tagawa Greenhouse Enterprises. Many of the senior production team, including the head grower, worked for the Tagawa family for decades, then moved over to GGS to help establish the hemp grow. Because Tagawa is a leader in young plant production for the ornamental bedding plant industry, the functions of growing mother stock, taking cut- tings and growing liners were already production aspects that had been per- fected and could be easily transferred over to GGS. “A lot of the processes and SOPs are the same, regardless of the crops,” Stephenson said. “Now what we’re trying to do is take that scalable model Tagawa has worked 51 years on building and applying that to the hemp model.” Other aspects weren’t as easy. The main challenge, according to Stephenson, was that hemp is not an asexual plant like most ornamentals and other agricultural crops. With male and female varieties that can vary widely depending on the cultivar, the staff had to identify the best means for uniform production and how to identify female and male plants. That aside, the team learned that once established, hemp is an independent plant that grows quickly and easily, Stephenson said. “Sometimes you do more damage by trying to micromanage it too much, and you end up causing more problems than you would’ve if you’d left it alone,” he said. GGS has 22 full-time grow employees and 45 workers during peak harvest season. The hemp production and harvest season is countercyclical to the spring bedding plant season, Stephenson said, so GGS has a good working agreement with Tagawa Greenhouse Enterprises. When the greenhouse business is in its offseason, after the busy spring, employees may not work a full 40 hours per week. That works out well during the hemp harvest season: Tagawa employees can take a four-week leave of absence to help GGS with its hemp harvest, then return to Tagawa when activities ramp up there again. “We’re fortunate with having a good relationship with the Tagawas,” Stephenson said. “It’s nice because we’re able to maintain a steady demand for the labor force in the area, so they don’t have to look elsewhere.” Investing in Efficiency GGS is devoting considerable resources to new facilities, infrastruc- ture and equipment to maximize its labor force, promote plant quality and uniformity and streamline operations for optimal efficiency. With the demand for hemp clones booming in Colorado and throughout the United States, GGS has seen its business increase exponentially, causing it to outgrow the 11,000 square feet of propagation space Alex Seleznov is CEO of Greenhouse Growing System in Colorado. Courtesy Photo Jason Stephenson is the facility and production manager at Greenhouse Growing System. Courtesy Photo