As interest in cannabis grows and society begins to accept its culture more and more, the demand for it greatly intensifies. Along with this follows the demand for qualified individuals who are trained to properly grow it. These specialists are called horticulturists.
Horticulture is the branch of plant agriculture that deals with the cultivation and management of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants. Horticulturists focus on the art and science of plants to build greener communities. Cannabis horticulture is an emerging industry with demand expected to grow exponentially as the cannabis and hemp industries continue to expand in the U.S. and abroad.
Demand for Horticulturists
Many cannabis companies have sprouted from the skill of previously illicit growers, but as these companies increase scale they are seeking the help of qualified horticulturists to take their operations to the next level and optimize their growing practices. A number of states have experienced problems where cannabis supply is unable to meet demand, losing stakeholders significant amounts of money. Cannabis horticulturists are positioned well to help solve these issues.
Niagara County Community College (NCCC) is now offering classes on cannabis horticulture. NCCC is a public SUNY school offering associate degree programs and certificates, as well as a number of non-credit bearing programs for individuals looking to enhance their career prospects.
There are three unique ways for students to study at NCCC.
Students can: (1) take classes for college credit in pursuit of an associate’s degree or certificate, (2) take low-cost, non-credit classes through the Workforce Development and Continuing Education program and earn a certificate of completion, or (3) attend classes tuition-free as a Senior Audit for individuals 60 and older.
NCCC horticulture classes give a well-rounded overview of plant cultivation and management. Courses cover plant protection (IPM), landscape design, herbaceous and woody plants, turf management, greenhouse management, plant biology, and soil science. Their cannabis-focused courses are summarized below.
The Biology of Cannabis:
In this course, students have the opportunity to learn about the anatomy and physiology of cannabis as they explore the unique features of cannabis biology, including the evolution, taxonomy, morphology, and floral traits of the plant. Other topics covered include cannabinoids, terpenes, tropisms, plant genetics, and breeding. The topics presented will increase the student’s awareness of the role that external environmental factors play in producing internal responses in the cannabis plant. This course is typically taught during spring semester.
Cannabis Pest Management:
This course is designed to develop the student’s skills for biotic and abiotic diagnostic problem identification, and increase understanding of potential prevention and treatment options in the cannabis industry. The course covers the identification of various environmental and nutrient problems, as well as insect, disease, and weed pest issues. Additionally, it will cover cultural, non-chemical, organic, biological controls, and synthetic chemical pest management options and how they impact quality control issues. The emphasis in this course will be placed on sustainable, best management practices. This course is typically taught during spring semester.
The Business of Cannabis:
This course includes an important introduction to the legal, financial, and societal issues surrounding medicinal, recreational, and industrial cannabis and the cannabis industry. Learn about the laws that govern cannabis distribution, cultivation, possession, and consumption for adults and medical patients. Additionally, this course will explore the history of cannabis, industry trends, careers available in the industry, business types, sales and customer service skills, security, and information on strains, products, consumption methods, budtending, and cannabis culture. This course is typically taught during the fall semester.
Learn the science behind the cultivation, propagation, and production of cannabis, including industrial hemp and various strains of marijuana. This course will provide students with the latest research and best management practices for the indoor and outdoor commercial production of cannabis species including methods of propagation, lighting, irrigation, media, equipment, fertility, harvesting, drying, and curing. Information on hydroponics and organic options will be included. This course is typically taught during the fall semester.
To learn more about these courses or how to earn a Horticulture Associate of Applied Science degree or Horticulture Certificate, visit niagaracc.suny.edu/programs/cannabis/