It’s hard to believe now, but thirty years ago, few greenhouse or indoor farmers had heard of Grodan, or even stone wool. It wasn’t until Grodan’s beloved North American retail business manager Vibeke “Vee” Kjoelhede introduced the company’s line of products to the United States and Canada in the mid-1990s that products like the Gro-Block started to catch on for hydroponic crops. And if it hadn’t been for Vee’s tireless efforts, we might not have the Hugo block today—one of the best substrates for cannabis cultivation.
After all, the United States and Canada got a head start on cannabis legalization before many other countries. The medical marijuana movement took off right around the time Vee began telling bell pepper and cucumber farmers all about crop steering, her custom-made Gro-Block earrings swinging next to her infectious smile. As the legal cannabis market began to rapidly expand and more and more growers adopted stone wool as their growing medium of choice, Grodan saw a need for a product specifically adapted to the unique needs of the cannabis plant.
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Enter the Hugo block, a sturdy substrate designed to support even the biggest cannabis plants from the rooting phase through vegetation and flowering, all without repotting. Minimizing plant-touching interactions with the crop reduces opportunities for anything to go wrong, like accidentally introducing pests or viruses. Having a one-touch substrate available isn’t just a time or money saver—it can be a plant saver, too.
Initially designed to be a manageable size and scale for home growers, the Hugo block quickly took off with commercial cultivators, too. It’s a real Goldilocks solution that can even accommodate fast indoor cannabis cultivation cycles of as little as eight weeks. At just 6 square inches, the Hugo is compact enough for vertical grow setups and can maximize the number of plants per square foot that can fit into a grow’s bench space.
Once a cannabis clone cutting has a well-developed root system, it’s ready to transfer into the Hugo block. From there, the cannabis plant can stay in its Hugo home through the entire crop steering process until harvest. Best practices for growing cannabis in the Hugo block include daily irrigation events with a 1.5 EC and 5.5 pH nutrient solution. Hugo blocks are compatible with drip irrigation systems, flood table systems, as well as hand-watering via wands. They’re also compatible with the Gro-Sens automation system, which allows cultivators to precisely control the timing and measuring of runoff, irrigation volume and volumetric water content.
That flexibility for different grow room design plans is important—especially if a cultivator is transitioning from coco to stone wool or another growing medium like peat or soil. Making the change from another substrate to the Hugo block doesn’t require significant changes to other cultivation equipment selections. That said, transitioning to stone wool is a great opportunity to upgrade to sustainable cannabis cultivation options like multi-tier grow racks, LED lights or water reclamation systems at the same time.
Grodan works with teams of cannabis cultivation veterans as well as academic researchers to perfect our products and make sure they’re at peak functionality for growing commercial cannabis. We’re proud to have developed the Hugo for this unique market, and to watch the legal cannabis market continue to expand. It’s been a journey over thirty years in the making, and we couldn’t have done it without cheerleaders like Vee and cultivators who spoke up about what they need to succeed. Here’s to thirty more years and beyond.
Learn more about cannabis crop steering on Grodan’s blog.