It’s always a pleasure to see what expert growers have done with California Lightworks products, and our recent visit to Love Buds in Love County, Oklahoma was no exception.
Though Love Buds has only just completed its first year in the industry, owner Jeff Whitner and his team have established a purpose-built, ground-up operation that functions as smoothly as if it had been around for years. Take one step inside their facility, and it’s immediately clear that they’ve done extensive research to design a state-of-the-art grow operation and cultivate a top-of-the-line product.
When Jeff and his team began planning their lighting system, they selected variable spectrum LED grow lights from California Lightworks’ SolarSystem series. When asked how they came to that decision, Jeff confirms that they did briefly consider HPS lighting. “But the heat output of those would just increase our electric bill as it relates to HVAC,” he explained.
He learned about California Lightworks from his brother, who had been using the SolarSystem 1100 lights for his own operation. Jeff looked into it himself and found that the light that came highly recommended from his brother was, in fact, one of the best lights on the market due to its high intensity and adjustable light spectrum. Based on this information, Love Buds chose to equip their first commercial grow operation with our SolarSystem spectrum controller and four different California Lightworks lights: the SolarSystem 550, SolarSystem 550 Veg, SolarSystem 1100, and SolarSystem UVB.
Here’s what we learned about this new company and what the use of these lights has meant for their very first harvest.
About Love Buds
Owned and operated by two retired Air Force veterans, Love Buds is a family-run medical marijuana cultivator and processor. With no outside investors, every member of the Whitner family takes the company’s success personally and does their part to help turn out a top-quality product.
Jeff Whitner threw himself into industry and cultivation research as soon as medical marijuana was legalized in Oklahoma last year. By August 25, 2018—the first day Love Buds was able to apply for a license—the Whitners knew exactly what it would take to cultivate a crop with potent and effective medicinal qualities. Their first harvest took place in February 2019. All that work in the early stages had paid off. Love Buds was officially up and running with a selection of strains ranging from 15.7%-25.3% THC.
All Love Buds products are grown 100% hydroponically in a clean, controlled environment. They use no pesticides, rely on six inches of spray foam for double insulation overhead, and transfer plants from room to room throughout the growth cycle. Jeff treated the team at California Lightworks to a tour of their facility, showing us how they used their SolarSystem equipment in each room for each stage of growth. Here is what we learned:
The Mother Room and The Vegetation Room—SolarSystem 550 & SolarSystem 550 Veg
The first room Jeff shows us is the Mother Room—a small area where mother plants are kept strong and healthy in Current Culture pots.
The Whitners nurture the mothers under the glow of California Lightworks’ SolarSystem 550, a variable spectrum LED light designed to replace a 600 watt HPS with a maximum power draw of 400 watts on full blast. The light output is 900 PPF and light efficiency is 2.25 micromoles per joule. Like every grow light in the Love Buds facility, the 550 pairs with the SolarSystem Controller which enables them to program the light spectrum for an entire growth cycle as well as use the sunrise/sunset setting to align with their plants’ essential biological processes. The controller even includes view mode, enabling the team to inspect their crop in plain light—absolutely imperative for monitoring the health of the mother plants.
The four growers on staff transfer clones from the Mother Room to the Vegetation Room, where they remain for 3-4 weeks. In the Veg Room, clones are arranged in Current Culture pots (four per section) and topped once in preparation for horizontal growth training in the Grow Room.
The Vegetation Room is furnished with the SolarSystem 550 Veg. This light is the same as the SolarSystem 550 hung in the Mother Room, but with one essential difference. The 550 Veg contains a heavier blue LED concentration, promoting heavier vegetative growth and bushier plants with the goal of achieving the highest possible yield per plant. Did it work for Love Buds?
The answer becomes clear enough in Grow Room #1.
Grow Room #1—SolarSystem1100 & SolarSystem UVB
In Grow Room #1, plants are spaced wide with a single plant in each Current Culture pot. The growers have used scrogging for horizontal training, and when we compare the wide surface of the canopy with the few pots underneath, it’s clear that they are getting tremendous growth from each individual plant. Jeff is understandably happy with the results.
“You get your maximum yield with these great-looking buds,” he says, “and we’ve got this drop-down [grow light] to give us about 1,000 PAR, so it’s looking really good.”
Grow Room #1 is equipped with our flagship indoor grow light: the SolarSystem 1100. It features an 1800 PPF output and draws 800 watts at full blast (compared to the 1000-watt HPS light it replaces). The 1100 has an efficiency of 2.3 micromoles per joule. In addition to taking advantage of the spectrum control available with this light, Jeff’s team mounted the lights using ratchets so they can adjust the height easily over the course of the growth cycle.
Of course, as a medical marijuana cultivator, Love Buds needs to accomplish more than high yields. They also need high potency, which means high trichome production. For this, the growers use the SolarSystem UVB light, a supplemental 24-watt T5 fluorescent that blasts the plants with UVB radiation at the end of the growth cycle.
Does it do the job? We find the answer in Grow Room #2.
Grow Room #2 (and Beyond)
The first thing we notice in Grow Room #2 is the incredible smell. This is where the growers bring the plants as they get closer to harvest. The plants are still benefiting from the high-intensity light of the SolarSystem 1100 and UVB supplement, but now they’re covered with potent, quality buds.
Jeff points out the strains in the room. “Horace, Mandarin Dream . . .” Then he explains they have plans to expand. “There’s going to be a Grow Room #3 here,” he says, “and we’re gonna order a lot of lights from you.”
In fact, Love Buds has already poured their expansion. The Whitners aren’t wasting any time capitalizing on the immediate success they discovered during their first year of operation.
When asked if they’d found any problems using California Lightwork grow lights, Jeff says everything has worked perfectly. “We love them,” he says. “They’re fully adjustable. They’ve worked out great for me, and they come highly recommended.”
The Whitners’ dedication to high standards in their grow operation is admirable, and we at California Lightworks are proud that our products could play a role in helping this new company get a running start in an exploding industry.
If you’d like to learn more about the SolarSystem series from California Lightworks—or any of our other products for commercial, personal, and greenhouse cultivation—please reach out. Every grow light is made in the U.S. using only top-tier Osram LEDs and the most advanced technology on the market. We are dedicated to helping growers of all experience levels turn out their best possible crop . . . and we’re eager to assist you in any way we can.