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Innovator Spotlight:
Chroni-Co

Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa

In the beautiful farming valley of Paarl, South Africa, one finds a stark contrast of old and modern wonders that blend harmoniously at Chroni-Co. As tenth generation growers on the Boplaas farm since 1743, the region’s oldest family business in South Africa, the Van der Merwe family knows a lot about keeping up with change. Thus, after growing apples, pears, and citrus fruits for three centuries, Chroni-Co focused on a new crop—medicinal cannabis—starting in 2019. James Simpson (Director & Responsible Person), Carl van der Merwe (Managing Director) and Daniel van der Merwe (Director) have led this transition into the new age with ultra-modern procedures, facilities, and technologies that feature Fluence LEDs from beginning to end.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Cultivator Name:Chroni-Co
Location:Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa
Crop:Cannabis
Fluence Fixture:VYPR 2P (phase 1), VYPR 3P (phase 2), SPYDR 2X (mother room)
Type of Facility:Productive summers (5 months of 40+ mol/m²/d) and dark winters (2-3 months of 15 mol/m²/d)
Results:30% increase in cannabinoid levels

Better heat management in winter

Improved morphology

Challenges

Maintain carbon-neutral efficiency with added, energy inputs

Maintain carbon-neutral efficiency with added, energy inputs

Maintain carbon-neutral efficiency with added, energy inputs

Their state-of-the-art, carbon neutral greenhouse is fully optimized for efficiency and conservation, including a reverse-osmosis filtration system and an array of solar panels. To round out and complete their facility, the Chroni-Co team wanted to replace their old, inefficient HPS lighting system with a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly LED solution.  They sought an LED lighting partner that would bring a science-oriented approach to finding the right solution.  After doing a significant amount of research, the team selected Fluence to be their partner through this lighting transition. Today, Fluence is proud to light their way through the winter months, just as Chroni-Co is lighting the way for sustainable premium cannabis cultivation in South Africa and beyond.

Before installing Fluence LEDs, Chroni-Co needed premium lighting solutions that met their expectations for sustainability, performance, and efficiency. Every aspect of their facility is scrutinized and optimized with these expectations in mind. To ensure environmental controls in the greenhouse, James and Carl looked to Fluence to provide high-efficiency and high-quality lighting without a significant impact on the localized power grid, or on temperature and humidity in the grow space.

The Chroni-Co team took a very structured, and well-thought-out approach to the initial installation at the farm.  They began the first phase of the installation in the summer months with a checkerboard pattern installation of Fluence’s VYPR 2p LED lights.  This approach allowed the team to test and fine-tune the LED lights, while still leveraging the high daily light integral (DLI) during the summer months in the Western Cape.

Once the team had dialed in the ideal performance of the VYPR 2p solution, they completed the buildout prior to the wet winter months when the Cape experiences little sunlight and cold temperatures.  Once the full solution was in place, Chroni-Co was achieving 38 mol/m2/d in the middle of winter, and Chroni-Co celebrated a successful harvest with this initial installation.

CHRONI-CO  & SUCCESSFUL HARVESTS DURING THE HARSH WINTERS IN THE CAPE

Partnering with Fluence’s horticultural and technical experts, Chroni-Co decided on three different lighting solutions by Fluence, each tailored to a specific stage of growth to build out further the LED lighting solution that was desired for the entire farm. Following a quick and simple installation, the expert growers and quality team at Chroni-Co realized immediate results with their first post-LED harvest. They now plan to supplement their crops with 400 μmo/m2/s, while optimizing the culture process for better productivity and in-house clone manufacturing.

Early results with Fluence LEDs have shown a 30% increase in cannabinoid levels. What’s more, doubling the lighting installation has helped to balance the lack of natural sunlight during the winter months meaning Chroni-Co can keep its greenhouse in the sweet spot that cannabis prefers. Furthermore, the Chroni-Co team reports improved morphology in the cannabis plants. “As far as the new Fluence lights go and our cultivation, we have found a huge difference in the growth structure of the plant. I see way less stretch and, with little DLI over the last month or so, the plants would have had a very hard time getting to the size they are now.”

Chroni-Co’s success has shown that Fluence LED lights can be a central part to a carbon-neutral and highly successful and cannabis harvest in the harsh environments.

30% increase of cannabinoid levels

Improved morphology

Better heat management in winter

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