Aphria’s primary cannabis facility in Leamington, Ontario, is now fully authorized by Health Canada to begin cultivation, paving the way for the first products from the licensed producer’s massive expansion to reach consumers as early as this summer.
The move comes only days after a flagship cannabis greenhouse owned by Aurora Cannabis – one of Aphria’s main competitors – became fully licensed by Health Canada for the cultivation and sale of cannabis and derivative products.
Together, the two facilities are large enough to have an impact on the supply of cannabis across Canada when they’re fully operational later this year.
The Leamington facility, known as Aphria One, is expected to have an annual production capacity of 110,000 kilograms (242,508 pounds) of cannabis when in full crop rotation, according to the company – nearly quadrupling existing output.
The five phases of Aphria’s Leamington facility carried a combined price tag of approximately 188 million Canadian dollars ($140 million), with expansions IV and V costing a combined CA$150 million – about CA$3 million over budget.
Aphria’s latest disclosure did not indicate when sales from the IV and V expansions would begin. However, in a January filing, the company said it anticipated the first harvest roughly eight weeks after planting and initial sales five weeks thereafter.
That’s later than previous statements made by the company.
In a January 2018 regulatory filing, Aphria said it expected the first sale from the Part IV expansion to occur in January 2019.
Complete with its own co-generation power plant, Aphria One is one of the most advanced – and expensive – greenhouses in Canada.
Last August, Aphria disclosed it was installing a co-generation power plant that utilizes natural gas to generate electricity.
The company said all equipment would be able to switch between the electrical grid and the power co-generation equipment to ensure the most cost-effective energy use.
“This combined-cycle process will not only generate electricity to be used in the greenhouse to operate the lights and air conditioners, but also the hot and cold water produced (as a byproduct) will be employed” to control the heat and humidity, Aphria said in an August 2018 disclosure.
Aphria said its power co-generation project will be “effectively net carbon neutral.”
The Aphria One building will employ technology to automate the following functions of the plant growing cycle:
- Transplanting cuttings through various stages into the final pots for flowering.
- Aiding in evaluation of the health and quality of plants.
- Cutting plants and transferring them to be processed.
- Automating the de-budding and trimming process.
- Disposing of waste produced in the cutting, de-budding and trimming phase of production.
- Distributing buds into trays in a drying rack to evenly dry and cure the harvested product.
- Monitoring and providing the necessary water and nutrients to the plants during the growing cycle.
- Transporting plants through different areas in the greenhouse, including the processing room once they’re harvested.
Aphria says the only human interaction with the plants will occur at the initial phase of the growth cycle and in the final phase of trimming and pruning the plants. The latter process will occur outside the greenhouse.
Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]
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