So You Want To Start A Grow Operation? Here’s What It Will Cost.
It’s easy to assume that running a cannabis grow operation is some sort of glamorous job that’s filled with laid back days and plenty of free bud. But it’s actually a lot more complicated than that.
There’s a lot you need to know in order to run a successful grow operation. And we’re not just talking about horticultural knowledge. You also need to understand the business side of things, and that includes understanding your startup costs. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to get your own weed grow operation up and running.
If you want to run a grow operation big enough to turn a real profit, you can’t just grow a few plants in your closet. You need a much bigger space. You need actual warehouse space. And since cannabis—even legal cannabis—is still seen as a risky business, getting enough space for a grow operation will cost you.
To give you an idea of what to expect, consider that in Denver landlords charge weed growers more than four times the average rent. Back in 2014, it cost growers almost $20 per square foot. When budgeting out for space, plan on paying a premium for a good warehouse rental.
Light is absolutely critical for a successful grow operation. To get the most out of your plants you’ll need specialized lighting systems. One source estimated spending a bare minimum of $1,800 on lights. But that estimate is definitely on the low end. If you want to grow enough bud to be a legit commercial grow operation, expect to spend anywhere from two to five times that much.
To keep your cannabis plants happy you have to keep them growing at a constant temperature. The only problem is that all those lamps really crank out the heat, too much heat in fact. To maintain the ideal growing environment, you will need a good air conditioning system. That means fans and ventilation.
On average, plan on spending at least $100 per fan. And obviously, the larger your grow operation the more fans you will need. Along with fans, you will need some sort of ventilation system, which adds to the cost. And finally, most grow operations use some sort of air filter. Without it a grow room would start to reek.
All told, for a decent sized grow operation, plan on spending $1,000 and more on the basic equipment required to maintain good air circulation.
Cannabis grow operations suck down a sh*t ton of electricity. Think about it. Pretty much every piece of equipment required to grow good weed runs on electricity. All told, a grow room big enough to generate real profits can run up power bills as high as $1,500 a month.
Obviously, getting a regular source of clean water is going to be important for your plants. Depending on where you’re trying to grow, and how well the space you’re renting is set up for water, you should probably plan on spending almost as much on water every month as you do on electricity. According to some estimates, your grow operation will probably require at least $1,000 every month for the water bill.
Now that you have your grow room all set up with the basic equipment, you can finally turn your attention to the actual plants. Before you start planting seeds, though, you need growing medium. There are a number of options for this: rockwool, hydroponics, organic growing soil, and more. Each one carries a different price tag but plan on spending anywhere from $15 to $30 per plant on growing medium.
Throughout your plants’ life cycles, you need to keep them strong and healthy by giving them the right fertilizers. Generally speaking, organic plant food that gives nutrients directly to the plant while also replenishing the soil is the best. Depending on how many plants you want to grow, plan on spending another $1,000 or so per harvest.
As with everything else, the amount you spend on seeds depends on how many plants you want to grow. It also depends on the strains you want to grow. Specialty strains, or strains that have been designed for particular traits, will typically be more expensive than more generic strains. But on average, you will spend somewhere around $30-$60 for a pack of quality cannabis seeds, and each pack will give you a handful of seeds.
The Final Hit: Adding It All Up
At this point, we’ve covered all the bases. Of course, as with any business, there will be a variety of other, unforeseen, smaller costs along the way to establishing a good grow operation. A smart grower will have at least $2,000-$5,000 set aside for these sorts of expenses.
Given all this, what will it cost you to start a cannabis grow operation? One estimate said that you should have at least $13,000 ready to spend—and that’s for a relatively small operation.
Thirteen grand should be enough to get an operation up and running that will produce enough bud to turn a profit. But if you want to make some big-time green, you should expect that figure to go up, probably closer to $20,000-$30,000.
On the upside, the cannabis industry is exploding. Experts predict the legal weed industry to generate as much as $50 billion by 2026. So although it might take a little investment to get going, there is a lot of money to be made by growing cannabis.