One of Colorado’s top marijuana growers, Joshua Haupt, is attracting lots of attention due not only to his incredible yields, but also because of their high quality. In his book Three A Light, he shares the methods that make his growrooms some of the most productive in the world.
Three A Light is simple and straightforward, text-wise, but graphically gorgeous with half the pages being full color photographs. It’s an impressive volume — the very definition of a “coffee table book” — and it’s priced accordingly, at $500. But even at that price point, the book made a big impact upon its initial release in November 2015 and is moving toward an impressive 1,000 copies sold.
According to Haupt, the book took two-and-a-half years to produce. But once you have it, you have a “standard operating procedure for your business,” he said, whether you want to grow 3 pounds per light (we’re talking dry flower weight, ready to use) with just one light, or are starting a large scale grow.
While the price may be jaw-dropping to some, it snaps into clearer focus when one realizes that Haupt’s methods (and nutrients, of which he also has a commercial line) promises a drool-worthy yield of 3 pounds per light. That, of course, means the book will more than pay for itself in yield, the first time you bring in a successful harvest.
Haupt’s company is rapidly expanding. In fact, it recently hired the ex-vice president and CEO of Coca-Cola, Terry Fitch. But Joshua still adds personal customer service for anyone who invests in one of his books; he seems to actually take joy in helping other growers achieve mind-boggling harvests.
Joshua discovered just how useful cannabis can be medically when he found how effective it is in controlling his epilepsy. All the Big Pharma drugs he’d tried up until that point had failed.
Full disclosure, the methods in Haupt’s book, to be fully implemented and taken advantage of, need to be paired with nutrients that he created in collaboration with an agricultural chemist. That’s why a starter pack of Success Nutrients is included with the purchase of each book. The nutrients are currently sold online and out of his Denver warehouse.
Toke Signals’ Steve Elliott was able to sit down with Joshua and talk about his book, his nutrient line, and his growing methods, which prominently feature a radical trimming process he calls “schwazzing.” All the fan leaves, normally solar panels for the plant which help to feed the flowers, are removed. “We can’t advocate people schwazzing if they aren’t feeding them our nutrients” to replace what the leaves would have done, Haupt said.
Incredible Yields Per Light
Toke Signals: Apparently, with your methods, you’re getting some incredible yields per light.
Joshua Haupt: Yes, sir. That is correct, yes.
TS: I think that definitely gets a lot of growers’ attention, those who have done it for awhile, and those who are looking at possibly getting into growing, when they see that 3 or 4 pounds per light. Can you tell me a little about how you came into doing it this way?
Haupt: Our method’s right around 3 pounds per light. I wouldn’t necessarily say you have to have three plants per light. You can definitely achieve 3 pounds per light with 3 plants per light. But some people want to use 6, some people want to use 9, some people like to use 16; it’s really up to them.
It really equates to every 1,000 watts of energy in the room, you can pretty much count on the 3 pounds. In some areas, and some things, it’s been far north of that, as in 4 pounds, 4-plus per light. I think my best teacher in life has always been doing things wrong; there’s no better teacher than experience.
I started like every other grower out there, just trying to piece together my own garden with a couple issues of High Times magazine, a couple of articles, also some great books from Jorge Cervantes as well as Ed Rosenthal. Both those guys are great!
I just kind of did it myself. We were hitting a half pound a light, then a pound a light; I actually got a little bit farther than that. Then a decade ago, I met my mentor, who showed me how to change my garden incredibly. He had been growing a long time in Florida, and so he had been growing for 20 years, and his mentor before him had been growing for 10 years.
So I can’t say that I came up with it myself. I can say that I adapted it, and it has been very effective. He showed me some things in his garden that I thought were absolutely crazy, but when I saw his yields and his flowers, I immediately stopped thinking it was crazy, and just started thinking “Wow this really works.”
The Significance of Schwazzing
‘So that’s where the methodology came along, around the defoliation. And most importantly, when you defoliate the plants, you have to replace all those micro- and macro-nutrients that they would have received from the leaves that you now took off.
We call them sugar factories, because they are just full of micronutrients which then feed into the flower. So when you remove those, it’s very crucial to be able to replace those, in the food line. And by that I mean in the nutrients that you’re giving your plants.
Schwazzing really allows you to just grow very large flowers, as opposed to trying to grow leaves as well. And it really focuses all of the efforts in the right direction, if you will.
When you remove the leaves, because normally they would be getting those micronutrients from the leaves, it’s very important that you follow the feed lines very well, because that way they’re not really missing anything. The lights are going to be providing optimum light penetration, because the light can then penetrate to the entire plant, because there’s no real shade on it.
And that’s going to refocus the plant’s energy: It will all be going to the buds, to the flowers.
TS: That’s an excellent point about the light penetration, actually, because I’d just been noticing that myself, when I clip a lot of the shade leaves, there’s much better light penetration.
Haupt: Absolutely. We call them big shaders, if you will. They act like canopies to the flowers below them. And unfortunately, the lower flowers on the plant will just kind of turn into what most people call “larf,” or nickel-fritz, or whatever, everybody has their own term for it. Those little nugs that don’t have a whole lot of composure.
Everybody likes the big cola nugs, but you can really balance that within the canopy, if you’re able to remove those big shade leaves.
TS: I see that some people are preferring up to 16 plants per light. It sounds like maybe they’re kind of doing a Sea of Green type thing?
Haupt: Absolutely, yes. A lot of times, the canopy is very full. No light is wasted. We do 3 to 4 plants per light at our facility. A lot of times, the harvest typically north of a pound. We’ll get, you know, 1.3, 1.4 pounds per plant.
‘We Put Some Skin in the Game’
TS: I know a lot of growers would love to have the information to get these kinds of yields. So I guess the price of entry is the book, at that point, if they want to take it to the next level?
Haupt: Yes, absolutely. We encourage everybody to get the book. We back the book; we know that the book is $500, not the cheapest point of entry, if you will. A lot of times, we’ll offer sales or campaigns around it, to make it more affordable for people.
And then on top of that, we’ll offer a free core-starter kit of our nutrient line to help them offset their costs, as well. A core starter kit is about a $350 value, and we’ll give them that for free.
So that way we put some skin in the game with them, you know, and let them know we really stand behind this. What they really get with that, is they’re kind of part of a really premiere club. We’ve sold just under 1,000 copies of the book so far. Because of that, we have a list of everybody who’s purchased the book, and we have a full team dedicated to customer service.
It doesn’t matter if you run just one light up in Washington, or you have 20 lights somewhere in Colorado. You have full reign when it comes to anything you might encounter along the way. Let’s say you get some pests in your garden, and you don’t know how to get rid of those pests, whether they’re mites or aphids, or whatever they may be.
You can call us, and we can definitely walk you through a very solid solution to get rid of those things. And most importantly, just make sure that you hit those high yields. We want to be your partner in success.
Three A Light App On the Way
TS: It sounds like maybe there’s some follow-through that you get, in addition to the book, as far as customer service and a knowledge base that you can tap into?
Haupt: Absolutely. We’re working on releasing an app right now, a Three Per Light app, where for a small monthly fee you’re able to upload your photos to the app, get in-app messaging, create your own calendar; we can also see your calendar on our end, for customer service. “Oh, it looks like you guys scrogging tomorrow, do you have any questions?” Or, “Looks like you guys harvested last week; we just wanted to touch base and see how your yield went.”
We just want to follow up with the customer service things, and just really make sure that people are happy with what they’re spending.
TS: That sounds both useful and fun. What do you think the timetable might be on the app, Josh?
Haupt: I’m going to push it back a month, just to be safe, but I think we’ll have it out by January. We really want to provide something that’s unique and different, and then also put it on the iOS software platform. It has to be very interactive; it can’t just be a book; Apple won’t accept that. So we need to make sure it’s very interactive on our end, so that’s kind of what we’re doing.
I’m very excited; I’m going to say sometime in January we should be able to release that app. It will be just iOS to start. Depending on the following that we get behind it, we’ll definitely provide an Android platform as well. Doing them both out the gate is quite the investment, and quite the commitment for us, so we’d rather just do the iOS to start, as there are a few more iPhones than there are Androids out there. And so that’s going to be the bigger “why” behind it. If someone does have an Android phone they get get an iPad, and put the app on an iPad.
By the Book
TS: Speaking of follow-through, if somebody gets the book and they want to follow the methods, what they’re going to need to do then is do the nutrients, as well, is that correct? If they’re going to go by the book, so to speak.
Haupt: Yeah, it’s tricky. The book is 215 pages, and we’ve had it happen quite a few times, you know. A quote-unquote genius will buy the book, and as you and I know, you can’t teach a genius anything [laughter]. So they’ll only take one chapter out of my book, and apply it to their garden.
And then, you know, be disappointed in me, because they didn’t achieve the 3 pounds per light. And I come back to them with the same argument, “Well, you only followed one section of the book. It’s very important that you follow the book from front to back, just because there are so many little details in there, that maybe that one section you followed, only increased your yield by 20 percent. But if you would have followed my other sections, you’d have gotten 8 percent from this, 3 percent from that, another 10 percent from this other part. And then a whole another 15 percent from the other part, and now you’re looking at increasing yields by over 80 percent.
So it’s just very important for people to follow it to the T when it comes to that, because then it’s easy for me to stand behind it. A lot of the things that we’ve done, and we’ve learned, like I said before, experience has been my best teacher. You know, we’ve done it wrong, so people that ask things of our customer service, sometimes it takes us back a handful of years, and we say, “Oh, we’ve already done that before, and here’s why we don’t do that anymore.”
It really helps kind of fast-track that learning curve. The cannabis industry can be so expensive. When you can see the profit margins behind one pound per light, versus 3 pounds per light, with one harvest and one light. Let alone multiple harvests and multiple lights, we’re talking about a very, very massive difference in your profits, and also what you can save if you’re a medical user, and in your profits if you’re a provider.
Feeding Success: Beyond 3 Pounds Per Light
TS: It sounds as if people who go by your program will be able to get these kinds of yields, then.
Haupt: Oh, absolutely. I’ll tell you about a client of mine in Vale. He drives down to Denver to get his nutrients and stuff. His friends made fun of him for getting the book and following our regimen to the T. And after his first harvest, he had been coming down and buying his nutrients just for himself. And this last time he came down, he finished his first harvest. He hit 3.3 pounds per light.
He came down to pick up three books for his friends, and he also picked up five times the amount of nutrients he normally gets, because he was getting them for all of his friends now. (Laughter)
So it really just takes one person to kind of give it a shot, and to take the Pepsi Challenge, so to speak. We want to be there along the way, to make sure you’re able to achieve these yields and do well for yourself.
And then, from that point on, I mean, I’m sold on it (laughs). I mean, there’s nothing I would ever do differently, when it comes to these things. These people that do these things are on the exact same page.
TS: I guess you got their attention with the 3.3 pounds per light, so I guess at that point they wanted to come aboard.
Haupt: Yeah, they allowed they had never seen a garden like that, I guess. They had seen a bunch of b.s. And that’s good, those are the trends you want to set. We want to help people. This is all about us giving back, if you will. I understand $500 is a very substantial amount, but if you look at what you’re able to reap on the back end of it, $500 is very minimal, very small.
150 Pounds Every 2-1/2 Days!
TS: I understand you have one of the bigger grows in Colorado? Can you give us any numbers on that, just for the dreamers among us who like to think about the operation that could be, someday?
Haupt: We have about, I wouldn’t say we have one of the largest grows in Colorado, but we have a very large grow. We have about 40,000 square feet canopy space, between two grows. In that 40,000 square feet we produce about a half-ton per month. Twenty-four flower rooms, we harvest about 100 to 150 pounds every two and a half days.
I say we have the most efficient methods in the world, when it comes to growing cannabis. For example, there’s a large grow up in Canada that has 300,000 square feet. They produce a half ton a month (laughs), you know, a thousand pounds. And we produce that same amount with, you know, not even close to the same amount of space.
And so what we do is we preach efficiency with how we’re doing it. Our goal is to get to 6 pounds per light, and we’ve already passed 4 pounds per light with a lot of our strains, with our genetics. We’re constantly dissatisfied with being satisfied. So we’re constantly doing research and development, and trying to do things, and really trying to push the envelope when it comes to what’s the highest grams per square foot you can perform at.
As you know, the industry average per square foot is about 22 to 28 grams per square foot, when it comes time to harvest. Our facilities in Colorado, here, produce about 90 to 100 grams per square foot. And they have a research and development room, and that room just came down with 150 grams per square foot.
So these are just some things that we are tweaking, you know. If you purchased our book, we want to share those things with you. Those things that we learn along the way, that we are kind of tweaking from our method, or even adding to it? We want to share those things with our club, so to speak, of book purchasers.
TS: That six pounds per light sounds like an exciting goal that you’re working toward. You’re over four now?
Haupt: Yes, we are over four now. In some scenarios we can reach over 5, but then our grams per square foot goes down. What I mean by that is, let’s say if you have one 4×8 foot tray, and let’s say you have two lights over it. With two lights over each tray, I can get the five pounds per light.
But a lot of times people want to see, “What if I put three lights over this tray? Because if I put three lights over this tray, can I get 4 pounds per light?” Because that will give you a higher profit per square foot. So where it comes down to the end user on, as far as, just how much power to you have, and what are your capabilities when it comes to your environment?
Those are the things that will really set you apart. But yes, the goal, of course, is to get to 6 pounds per light, or to get to 180 grams per square foot would be ideal. You know, just really packing in a lot of product. Packing a punch.
And most importantly, producing a lot of top shelf product. I don’t really want, I think there would be plenty of people to take the approach of, you know, kind of being the Skol vodka, so to speak the cheaper one? But we prefer to definitely be the Grey Goose and the Belvedere.
We want to make sure that if it’s anything coming out of our garden, we would gladly smoke it ourselves, because it’s all used for medical, as well as recreational. We want to be able to give back that top shelf. So it doesn’t really count if we pull it and it’s garbage. It’s got to be good product.
TS: Is there anything else on the horizon that you’re excited about right now?
Haupt: We have a lot of consulting opportunities with new states coming online. And there’s a lot of new states that are reaching out to us, from Puerto Rico all the way over to Hawaii. We’ve got the whole US kind of blanketed with people that are wanting our help, with designing their facilities, and moving forward in those directions. And just kind of helping eliminate that learning curve for them. A learning curve can be very expensive, especially on a commercial level. I mean, we’re talking millions of dollars here, somebody designing a facility wrong.
So we want to step in and really help you with that. We’re not foreign to large commercial developments, so we want to help with those things, and we want to make sure people are able to do well for themselves, out the gate.