After a challenging growing season that saw heavy crop losses due to mold, pests and other issues, actor, comedian and cannabis farmer Jim Belushi has taken his southern Oregon-based marijuana farm to the next level with a complete revamp of the cultivation operation. Featuring new state-of-the-art greenhouses equipped with Fohse LED grow lights, Belushi’s Farm recently celebrated its first harvest since the makeover with rave reviews from the proprietor.
Due to the aforementioned challenges, Belushi’s Farm was having trouble keeping up with orders for its flagship Blues Brothers brand of cannabis flower and pre-rolls. To address the issues, last year farm general manager Chris Karakosta turned to professional cannabis cultivation consultants for advice. Hoping to receive suggestions for a few minor improvements, Karakosta was instead advised to tear down the existing hoop houses and replace them with modern light-deprivation greenhouses.
Key to the enhanced operation would be new lighting to supplement the natural sunlight and increase quality and productivity. To light the greenhouses, Belushi’s Farm turned to Fohse, a Las Vegas-based manufacturer of high-performance LED grow lights specifically designed for the cannabis industry. Fohse outfitted Belushi’s Farm with two of their state-of-the-art fixture models including the F1V for maximizing vegetative growth before plants are transferred to the greenhouse. The manufacturer also installed the O6i, a high-tech fixture with Light Harvesting technology that provides both primary and supplemental light energy to promote growth and flowering.
In an interview, Fohse president and co-founder Ben Arnet said that when his company first started, many LED manufacturers were producing grow lights as cheaply as they could to minimize the initial investment for cultivators. But Fohse took a different track, instead heavily investing in research and development to make the best cannabis grow lights available. The result is increased yield as well as improvements in quality metrics such as cannabinoid and terpene content.
“People will pay for better, people will pay for more, people will pay for performance,” Arnet told Cannabis Now in 2021. “We spent more money designing, manufacturing and building our fixtures, making sure that they have the highest IP ratings, warranties, outputs, performance and efficiency. It costs a little more upfront, but with the increase in yields, they pay themselves off in a harvest or two. So, while everyone was racing to the bottom, Fohse did the exact opposite.”
Belushi’s Farm Celebrates First Harvest Since Revamp
Now in full operation, the new and improved Belushi’s Farm last month celebrated its first harvest since the complete overhaul of the cultivation facility. Belushi said that the results have made him a believer in the new lighting technology.
“I saw the light, I saw the light, no more darkness, only light,” Belushi says in a press release. “Thirty percent more penetration means 30 percent more yields. The shocker was that these lights not only increased our yields, but they increased our THC levels and terpene values—and I’m all about the terpenes. These lights have made us extremely competitive in our market. We’re on the cutting edge of environmental greenhouse technology for our cannabis with Fohse. Now, I see the light!”
Since the company’s founding in 2015, Fohse has sold tens of thousands of its grow lights to cannabis cultivators, multistate operators and well-known brands. In that time, the company has never had a customer take it up on the promise of a refund if the lights fail to increase yields. Brett Stevens, CEO of Fohse, said the company is happy to be an integral part of the new and improved Belushi’s Farm.
“We loved being a part of taking Jim’s farm to the next level,” Stevens said. “Fohse LED grow lights are the best on the market, and we have the best team of lighting experts to help our customers so we can ensure that they achieve their harvest goals. Scaling up can be challenging, but with the right technology, it’s definitely doable and we’re super excited for Jim’s first harvest with Fohse lights.”
To test the performance of the new lighting, Belushi’s Farm grew two runs of 51 Grapefruit Kush plants each in adjacent greenhouses, giving both groups the same soil, nutrients and growing regimen. One of the greenhouses was outfitted with 28 traditional high-pressure sodium light fixtures. The other greenhouse was lit with 40 new Fohse LED O6I fixtures that use the same amount of power but put out 25 to 30 percent more light.
The plants grown on HPS fixtures produced 238 pounds of cannabis flower (trim not included), which amounted to 17.5 pounds when dry. By contrast, the same number of plants grown with the Fohse LEDs produced 335 pounds of flower by wet weight, which Belushi estimates will come to about 32.5 pounds when dry.
“Fohse broke their promise of 30 percent because it looks like it will be a bit higher,” Belushi joked to Cannabis Now. “I hate it when a company doesn’t keep their word!”
The transformation of Belushi’s Farm is documented in the second season of Growing Belushi, a primetime edutainment series produced by Whitehorse Productions for Discovery. In a press release, Belushi said that viewers of the show, which had its season premiere on January 19, will get a close-up look at what it’s like to operate a regulated cannabis business.
“In this season of Growing Belushi, you’ll witness my evolution from hobby boutique cultivator to multistate business operator,” Belushi said. “This year isn’t only about the expansion of our business, but our mission to spread awareness about the plant as a pathway to healing.”