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Inside the Groundbreaking Farm That Boasts Three Pounds of Cannabis per Grow Light

July 26, 2017

One word that travels fast in the cannabis industry is “hype.” As the market continues to grow at a breakneck pace, hype is everywhere, permeating the very fabric of truth we seek when getting to the bottom of what’s real and what’s embellished for shameless profit.

Joshua Haupt knows a thing or two about hype. He’s the enigmatic author of the revolutionary grow book Three a Light, and founder of Pono Publications, Success Nutrients, and the Tree House/Superfarm gardens. Haupt has dealt with doubt more than most in his position, a sentiment that pretty much goes without saying when you claim your grow operation is capable of pushing out three pounds of cannabis per one double-ended, high-pressure sodium light.

Insane, right? Hyped, even. But here’s the thing: when it comes to Joshua Haupt, the hype is real.

Project Manager Nick Costello (left) and Denver GM Mike Walsh (right) survey a flower chamber at one of Three a Light's Colorado farms.

The Birth of ‘Light’

A Colorado Native, Haupt’s early days were rough. After seeking relief from the debilitating grasp of epilepsy, he soon found that cannabis could deliver near total suppression of his symptoms. Haupt began cultivating in his mid-teens and took his newfound passion to Breckenridge, CO, where he began to formulate the early trappings of what would later become his magnum opus, the Three a Light recipe for success. During this time, he spent his days assisting friends and locals in setting up their own cultivation facilities, all while beginning to formulate a master recipe based on his successes.


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According to Haupt, who was interviewed by Gangepreneur earlier this year, the process of completing the Three a Light book was much more tedious than previously expected. What was once thought to be a six-month project took nearly three years to complete due to the intricacy of the photography demands and the need to produce a finished product unlike anything anyone had ever experienced in the realm of cannabis literature.

Designed specifically to be digestive, 'Three a Light' comes across more like a baking recipe book than theoretical analysis.

The culmination of Haupt and his team’s efforts came to fruition in late 2015 with the release of his 215-page behemoth masterpiece, a gargantuan text brilliantly outlined with breathtaking captures and a seamless, streamlined, and easy-to-digest approach to his famed nine-step cultivation method. In its massive hard black casing, the book reads more like a coffee table Nat Geo exposé than a typical cannabis cultivation reference text, weighing almost three pounds (not including the case). Chris Freiboth, lead photographer and designer, can be credited for the book’s sleek and minimalist photography-forward style. Every page offers a dynamic visual experience unlike any other book of its kind.


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Many of the existing cannabis cultivation manuals in print today are designed to be comprehensive and are often too dense for novice growers and those with little to no experience in botany and horticulture. Here Three a Light breaks the mold; designed specifically to be digestive, the tome comes across more like a baking recipe book than theoretical analysis. With 11 steps hinging on nine core principles (Temperature, Humidity, CO2, Room Dynamic, Equipment, Genetics, Food & Water, Manicure/Pruning, and Love), the goal is to introduce readers to a singular cultivation method. Oftentimes, new growers pull from many sources to develop their cultivation style. This book saves novice growers the effort and offers an all-in-one approach.

The Flo cannabis strain in its final week of flowering. (Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

A ‘No A-Hole’ Policy

When someone claims that they’re so efficient in their growing to be able to produce three pounds of cannabis per grow light, you really do have to see it to believe it. I know I did. That’s why I had to get out to the Denver Superfarm myself to see what all of the hype was about.

It takes the perfect fusion of culture, philosophy, and practice to pull off what Three a Light produces on a daily basis.

Upon entering the facility, I was met by Nick Costello, long-time friend of Haupt, project manager for Three a Light, and master cultivator at the Superfarm. A driving force at Three a Light, Costello’s energy and charisma are equal parts astounding and palpable.

“We have a no A-hole policy,” Costello proclaims as he winds me though hallways of grow room after room. This self-vetting system applies to all areas in each of their facilities. It lives and breathes in their culture and can be felt in every area of their operation.


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I spent several days touring the Three a Light Superfarms and was surprised to find that every face I interacted with was equally friendly and welcoming, something I can’t say for any other farm I’ve toured in my career. It was after meeting Mike Walsh and Sean McMechen, both master cultivators and general managers at two of the Denver-based Three a Light Superfarms, when I realized the true success this company has been able to cultivate.

What makes this operation so successful (and yes, they are producing three pounds per light, sometimes even four pounds) is much less about formula and more about building culture. Three a Light may be a winning recipe, but without execution on this scale, achieving this kind of efficiency is virtually impossible. It takes the perfect fusion of culture, philosophy, and practice to pull off what Three a Light produces on a daily basis.

The “schwazzing” grow technique in full effect.

Groundbreaking Grow Methods

The “three pounds per light” approach offered in the book is designed to be used holistically, but other innovative methods stand out. Take “schwazzing,” for instance. Most growers likely haven’t heard of it, as this bizarre defoliation method is exclusive to Three a Light.

Three a Light runs on a perpetual harvest, meaning it produces a ready-to-consume crop every nine days.

A Haupt original, schwazzing is a time-sensitive technique centered around removing nearly 100% of the sugar leaf from the cannabis plant in order to promote a rapid increase in flower development. On its own, schwazzing will most certainly kill your beloved cannabis plant. However, when used correctly within a distinct system (fortified by a healthy application of specific nutrients provided by Success Brands), the technique may just be the holy grail of achieving three pounds per light.


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Without the rest of the equation, however, schwazzing can be a death wish. The concept is centered around replacing the defoliated sugar factories through soil amendments, all of which come pre-packaged in Success Brand nutrients (the book highly recommends using this nutrient line in conjunction with the Three a Light regiment).

A Three a Light flowering chamber in its final week of growth. (Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

World-Class Indoor Gardens

A properly run facility is the key to success when it comes to indoor cannabis cultivation. It just so happens that Three a Light also sets the standard when it comes to building and maintaining a world-class indoor garden. The Denver Superfarm is outfitted with 16 individual and intimate cultivation chambers, each one isolated and environmentally controlled to suit the needs of the plants in their specific phase of the life cycle. Each room houses up to, but typically not exceeding, 36 lights. This is a stark contrast to many similar indoor farms which can, at times, contain up to and even beyond 1,000 lights in a single chamber. Three a Light’s approach, conversely, virtually eliminates cross-contamination, a silent killer in the industry.

Three a Light’s Aurora GM Sean McMechen checks on some cannabis clones. (Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

Three a Light runs on a perpetual harvest, meaning it produces a ready-to-consume crop every nine days. The facilities are designed specifically to transition plants through each phase of the cultivation process. Because of this design model, these facilities are massively scalable. In fact, Haupt and his team have recently secured a 300,000 square foot facility in Las Vegas with plans to expand to the Battle Born State in the near future.


Stages of the marijuana plant growth cycle

Growth is eminent for Josh Haupt and Three a Light. In March of this year, Pono Publications and Success Nutrients were acquired by Medicine Man Technologies, one of the largest and most successful cannabis companies in the state of Colorado. This is sure to seal the deal for the success of Haupt, who now sits as the Chief Cultivation Officer for MMT. With a book, team, and facility to be reckoned with, the story of Three a Light will surely go down as a resounding success for years to come.

Three pounds per light. My goodness, the hype is real.


Photos courtesy of Patrick Bennett for Leafly.

Patrick Bennett's Bio Image

Patrick Bennett

Patrick lives with his wife and daughter in Denver, where he spends his time writing, photographing, and creating content for the cannabis community.

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  • FlunkedAgain

    A Recreational grower might pick up a few tips that they can adapt to their circumstances.

    BUT when you are limited to six plants; “produces a ready-to-consume crop every nine days.” is probably immaterial, and 3 pounds per light is a pipe dream. Recreational growers aren’t going to get the same Return on Investment, especially when there is no Economy of Scale.

    The 6 plant limit is a problem since there is no comparison between 6 8 foot plants, and 8 6 inch plants.
    It’s absurd that 6 8 Foot Plants is legal, while 8 6 inch plants will get you arrested.

    • dcard88

      A year ago I had a sheriff at my front door that ‘warned me’ that the county of Riverside limits me to 12 babies, after I told him I had 16.
      I felt so bad for lying to him as I actually had 30 adults.
      Good thing it wasn’t General Beauregard, but then he is a foot shorter than me, so I would not have been worried about him either.

      Been doing this for more than 6 years and have yet to get 1.5 pounds per kW

      • FlunkedAgain

        Since they want $500 for their book, and I’m a hobbyist, I’ll pass up the opportunity to get 3 pounds per light. I bought “How to Grow Marijuana indoors under lights” by Murphy Stevens over 40 years ago, and It didn’t cost much. I don’t think that I still have the book.

        Now I use:

        They have some tips and tricks that I’ve found useful. Some of the pruning methods appear to be pertinent to the pictures in the article.

        I don’t need to grow a lot. In the past, a 2 foot 2 bulb florescent set up provided me with all I needed, but I had more than 6 plants. A cop saw it and laughed. Buds are nice but not necessary, leaves will get you high, and Males will also get you stoned.

        As a hobbyist, I want the ability to cross breed more than 6 plants. Yeah, I get them nasty seeds.

  • cactusjim420

    I grow my own and prefer the single light concept, the sun. Nothing grows cannabis as well as the sun, that and good, living soil. Three from the sun is easy, six is possible, just need, to start them early, grow em out, June 14 put em out to grow with the shortening season, harvest in fall, man I love farming!

    • FlunkedAgain

      Aeroponics and hydroponics produce better results than good living soil. That good living soil contains pests. Deer like to munch on Cannabis, even though it hasn’t been decarboxylated. An enclosed environment can also use the sun thanks to the recently discovered window. How many crops do you get in a year?

      You’re right, the sun is a superior light source. You can grow taller plants since the light delivered to the bottom leaves is the same as the light hitting the top leaves.

      • cactusjim420

        A healthy soil has more good organisms than bad. Deer are no problem, I have an enclosed yard. Re:the discovery of windows, what I have is the newest technology its what’s called a greenhouse, imagine that! Not really green, not truly a house, great for gardening in though. I get either 2 or 3, some supplemental lighting in deep winter. Of course what I call my summer grow is ALWAYS way bigger, thicker, sticker, better tasting and smelling. I prefer keif, just sifted and ironed to decarboxilize. The best example this year is some blue dream I have been growing, hands down o.s over i.s for smell and taste.

  • Geezer Lifeson

    I do not see how this is sustainable. Are they using renewable energy to power the lights? Those added nutrients at a minimum require petroleum to ship, if not to produce as well. Agreeing with cactusjim420.

    • FlunkedAgain

      When time travel is available, you can go back to the nirvana of your dreams, which doesn’t exist. The nutrients YOU consume require fossil fuel to get them to market. How do you post on the Internet without electricity? How far would you have to walk to get your Cannabis seeds? Horse exhaust contains the pollutant, methane.

      • Geezer Lifeson

        Thanks for the reductio ad absurdum. Maybe the article could have also pointed out what they are doing to be good stewards and I would not have been so annoyed. From reading the article, I do know I do not want their cannabis, I prefer organic compost as the nutrient source instead of added nutrients.

        • FlunkedAgain

          The choice is to use commercial fertilizer, or starve to death. Where are you going to get enough compost to replace modern fertilizers? An Engineered fertilizer should have less waste than compost. They also have to adjust the Ph of the water. What you or I prefer is immaterial. The consumer will decide, and they’ll make their decision based on price.

          I’d prefer Craft Growers with a limited scale of operations, but that’s not going to happen.

          • Geezer Lifeson

            You can still starve to death with commercial fertilizers, which reduce farmers to miners of soil. Once the soil is mined and destroyed by commercial fertilizers, it can be brought back using permaculture techniques, which would allow you to get a whole planet of compost. A farmer’s first priority should be building the soil, like Joel Salatin or Geoff Lawton.

  • Kevin Malloy

    The reason for shwazzing prune
    When you take the fan leafs off you take away nutrients and sugars that the plant would naturally take from those leaves
    Now doing this alone your plants have to turn to the roots to supply the loss of key nutes and sugars to make up for the stripping of leaves
    So now it’s vital to supply the exact amount and time frame of watering them with your nutrients which they will then depend on to make up for no fan leave reserves of its natural nutrients
    The cannabis plants can leaves nutrients is great for them but taking them away and supplying your own BETTER nutrients to feed them gives them even more than they can naturally supply themselves from there leaves
    It’s like going to space
    Your air supply is now cut off because you have taken away oxygen to breath and live
    But instead of dying we supply astronauts oxygen with higher co2 levels and higher oxygen levels so they can breath and preform better than natural oxygen from earth by supplying there blood with more oxygen and co2 which results in the body having more energy and higher stamina and overall performance.
    Also the fan leaves gone will allow better air flow and light penetration.

    This is just an idea I blossomed from using common sense to understand why this method is successful
    Grow for the gold baby🤙