Cannabis production is an ancient practice that has advanced considerably over the years for its medicinal, recreational, and industrial benefits. Today, it is legal for medical and recreational use in many areas of the world, leading to an increase in the number of individuals interested in cultivating their own. This article will give an introduction to cannabis production, including the basics of growing, selecting the right strain, and tips for effective cultivation.
Cannabis is considered a dioecious plant, meaning it has both male and female plants. Male plants are taller and thinner, with flower-like pods that hold the pollen-producing, fertilizing anthers.
Conversely, female plants are darker and shorter, with small hairs projecting from the bracteole pods. There are three common types of cannabis strains, including:
Cannabis Sativa is native to equatorial nations such as Thailand and Indonesia, where the day varies very little throughout the year. Sativa has evolved to grow tall, explaining its enormous height, growing up to 5 meters tall under perfect conditions. It also grows huge yet airy-looking buds. The massive plant also generates abundant harvests; however, it does need a longer flowering time (lasting up to 16 weeks), depending on the weed strain. The leaves of Sativa are significantly thinner than the other species, and they generate delicate-looking fingers.
Cannabis Indica is a type that is believed to have developed in the world’s dry climates, such as Lebanon, Afghanistan, and India. This type of cannabis grows short and compact, reaching 1.2-1.5 meters. This makes Indica strains perfect for people with limited space or who want a cannabis plant that does not draw a lot of attention or dominate a garden. Pure Indica strain seeds produce a stocky, Christmas tree-like appearance and blossom in 6-8 weeks, making them popular with farmers seeking high yields. This is because once an Indica has reached its ideal height, it will not grow much taller and will devote all of its energy to producing dense, scented buds.
Cannabis Ruderalis is a comparatively new addition to cannabis cultivation and breeding, although it has been there for a long time. Ruderalis is little and fragile; therefore, there is little to harvest. However, it does have several extremely valuable characteristics, particularly resilience and a light-independent blooming cycle. Ruderalis is native to northern areas, including Russia, China, and Poland. In addition, Ruderalis has developed into a highly powerful plant due to the lack of light and cold weather, and its flowering cycle is regulated by age rather than light variations.
The appropriate cannabis strain might differ between a great harvest and a disappointing crop. Each strain has its own unique set of traits, growth patterns, and effects. Consider the following factors while selecting a strain: growing difficulties, blooming time, yield potential, and insect resistance. Here are two main cannabis seeds that are available:
Feminized cannabis seeds represent a significant improvement in breeding technique. Unlike ordinary seeds, which produce a mix of male and female plants, feminized seeds are genetically designed to generate 99.9% female seedlings. Why is this so important? This is because female cannabis plants are the sought-after queens of resin production, bearing strong, cannabinoid-rich buds. So, how do breeders produce such high-quality seeds? The solution lies in the process of feminization. Breeders induce pollen production in a properly selected female plant, which is then utilized to pollinate another female. The result? Seeds that are almost certain to grow into female plants, avoiding the need to identify and remove males during growing.
Autoflower seeds, unlike photoperiod counterparts, instantly migrate from the vegetative to blooming stages. Auto seeds are unconcerned with the hours of light and darkness. This shortens the cultivation cycle, allowing top-quality buds to be harvested as little as 8 to 10 weeks after germination. Novice gardeners love the forgiving character of auto-growing seeds and the reduced complexity of light management. Autoflowering weed seeds grow in a wide range of conditions. Autoflower seeds respond easily to the regulated circumstances of an indoor grow room or the natural cycles of outdoor growing. Their adaptability extends to varied light cycles, allowing growers to harvest independently of geographical location or seasonal fluctuations.
Novice growers are usually confused when selecting autoflowering vs photoperiod seeds. Feminized seeds always yield female plants, so that’s one less question to be concerned about. Autoflowering strains are derived from a Ruderalis plant, which blooms automatically after maturing and often matures considerably before normal cannabis kinds. It’s likewise a tough, long-lasting plant but with substantially lower yields. When picking which strain to cultivate, consider your goals and experience, and then find a trustworthy online seed bank and analyze its finest options. There are many myths surrounding autoflower yields so it is best to do some research on the topic.
The cannabis plant’s development cycle can range anywhere from 10 to 26 weeks (seed to harvest). The three major phases include germination, vegetation, and blooming. Cannabis, like most plants, requires light, oxygen, nutrients, and a growing medium to house its roots. Furthermore, the amount and duration of light determines the plant’s development stage it receives.
Some tools are particular and necessary for a cannabis grower, while others are simply good to have around. A toolbox prepares you for whatever problems your plant throws your way and offers you something to improvise with on your first effort at a growing operation. Here are the essential tools you require to become a cannabis producer:
A 12-hour light and 12-hour darkness schedule is ideal when your cannabis plants start to blossom. The darkness of the night creates a natural clock for cannabis.
This is why indoor gardeners must make a concerted effort to create long, bright days and simulate dark cycles for cannabis to develop huge, full buds.
Water is essential to all living things, including cannabis plants. When you begin growing weed, you may believe watering plants will be the easiest duty. Watering cannabis properly is equally important as fertilizers, lighting, and environmental management. Why? Not only are cannabis plants composed of 80% water, but water also serves as a channel for absorbing important nutrients. So, determining how frequently to water your plants will be critical.
Cannabis has varying watering requirements at different stages. You can make various adjustments based on your circumstances. If you press a finger into your soil and it feels like it is drying up to the first knuckle (approximately 1 inch deep) or the pot is light, you can water.
During this stage, the objective isn’t so much “watering” as it keeps the environment wet enough to encourage germination. As a rule of thumb, if you wish to germinate your cannabis seedlings directly in the soil, ensure the soil is wet, and you may need to “add” water every 4-7 days.
During this stage, cannabis does not require much water. Since seedlings are sensitive, it may be tempting to overwater them, but please resist. Insert your finger into the soil to see if it has dried or is soggy. If growing in a pot, you’ll need to water every 3-7 days. The size of the container also determines this.
Cannabis requires more water during this stage than during the seedling stage since it begins to produce leaves and branches. As usual, poke your finger approximately 1 inch into the soil to test whether it is moist. If so, do not water. If it’s dry, add some water. When your plant is in its permanent home (a huge pot), you should water it every 2-4 days.
Watering at the flowering phase can be difficult for producers since cannabis is mature and has varied nutrient requirements. This phase also absorbs water faster because it has flowers to generate. Experts recommend watering every 2-3 days, but as always, test your soil to determine whether your plant even needs water.
It is important to maintain the ideal temperature range for optimal cannabis development. Aim for temperatures ranging from 21-29 degrees Celsius during the vegetative stage and 18- 27 degrees Celsius during the blooming phase. You can also invest in temperature control equipment such as air conditioners and thermostats to adjust the temperature efficiently. These tools will aid in the prevention of temperature variations, which can stress your cannabis plants and impair their development.
Maintaining proper humidity levels is critical for avoiding mold and mildew formation and ensuring appropriate transpiration and nutrient absorption. Aim for a 40-70% humidity level during the vegetative period and reduce to roughly 40-50% as you reach the flowering stage. You are recommended to use hygrometers to monitor and control humidity levels. In addition, efficient ventilation and air circulation systems will aid in maintaining enough airflow and preventing stagnant air pockets.
Cannabis, like other plants, necessitates nutrients and water to flourish. Finding the appropriate balance is essential for healthy development and abundant harvests. Organic nutrients from natural sources can improve soil health and taste characteristics. While chemical fertilizers are helpful, they can cause soil buildup and must be managed carefully.
Three nutrients are needed in significant amounts by cannabis plants. These three macronutrients—potassium (K), phosphorus (P), and nitrogen (N)—are essential to the health of cannabis plants. Because of this, the NPK ratio—which represents these three nutrients—usually takes center stage on fertilizer packages. The concentration of that specific nutrient is higher for each value with a higher number. But for cannabis to grow and live, it needs more than simply these three nutrients. Secondary nutrients essential to plant development include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Aside from this, plants need a variety of additional nutrients in small quantities (micronutrients) that are incredibly vital, including boron, chlorine, copper, iron, zinc, molybdenum, and manganese. While they aren’t the main elements that cannabis plants utilize for nutrition, they play vital roles in their health.
The vegetative phase is when the plant develops its roots, stalks, and huge fan leaves to form its structure. Fan leaves will eventually convert sunlight into the sugars the plant requires to develop flowers or seeds. The light cycle is often shortened to 18 hours of light since the plant requires a minimum of 16 hours of light to survive.
Cultivators can train or control their plants’ development patterns during cannabis growing for a variety of purposes. Indoor gardeners may wish to encourage their plants to grow horizontally to keep them short, but indoor and outdoor growers may want to push their plants to create many flower development sites at the same level.
The female plant develops trichome-covered colas during flowering, and the male plant produces and discharges pollen. Cannabis plants naturally blossom during the 12/12 photoperiod, which occurs when the weed plant obtains 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
In the Northern Hemisphere, daylight hours are best for weed plants flowering from July to November. The sun is in the sky for 12 hours on the fall equinox in September, with daylight hours gradually decreasing until and during the winter. In the Southern Hemisphere, the reverse is true. An artificial 12/12 light cycle introduced inside or in a light-controlled greenhouse will force a cannabis plant to blossom.
Male and female weed plants have the same root, stem, and leaf architecture. Trichomes, the glandular substances on the flower’s surface of the flower that create and store cannabinoids and terpenes, are produced by both plant sexes; however, the female plant generates significantly more trichomes than the male plant. It is vital to remember that proper determination necessitates careful examination and patience.
Advanced growers may use sexing strategies like:
A hermaphrodite is a type of monecious plant with male and female sex organs. The name monecious is derived from the root “mono,” which means one. While a plant can display both symptoms for various reasons, hermaphrodites are most commonly created when a female plant is subjected to severe circumstances during important periods of growth, such as inadequate light or adverse environmental conditions. Hermaphrodite signs also usually appear late in the blooming cycle.
A sinsemilla plant occasionally generates a few hermaphrodites to maintain its seed line. While hermaphrodite pollen is typically unviable, cannabis producers should remove hermaphrodites when they appear to eliminate the chance of pollination. Hermaphrodites will also decrease total flower output since the plant is compelled to transfer energy away from the creation of trichome-rich blossoms and onto the generation of seeds.
Cannabis plants are subject to pests and illnesses, much like any other crop. Early intervention and proactive management can preserve a crop from extinction.
Here are some key mistakes cannabis growers can avoid when producing cannabis:
It is critical to create an ideal atmosphere for cannabis production. The appropriate circumstances may greatly influence your plants’ health and productivity, whether you’re growing inside or outdoors. Indoor cultivation offers complete control over the environment. Indoor growers may adjust everything from light cycles to temperature and humidity. However, outdoor growth is dependent on the weather. While it can provide higher yields, it is also vulnerable to nature’s unpredictability.
Indoor cannabis cultivation often takes place in a grow room or environment, requiring artificial lighting, air conditioning, and dehumidification equipment. An indoor arrangement aims to replicate the outside factors that support plant development while retaining complete control over all environmental parameters. The main drawback of growing cannabis indoors for novices is the high upfront costs, which include building structure, equipment, electricity, water, and other utilities.
Here are some tips for indoor cannabis production:
Growing cannabis outdoors exposes a crop to the elements, providing natural light and greatly lowering producer expenditures. Electricity may only be required for watering if no artificial lights or fans are required. Outdoor cannabis production depends on the available sunshine as the seasons change, exposing the plant to the entire spectrum of light accessible in nature at that time of year. Outdoor cultivators have a longer growing cycle and often harvest once a year. While exposure to a natural environment is typically beneficial to plants, extreme environmental circumstances can harm an outdoor crop. Crop killers include rain, insects, invasive species like thistle, animals, and harsh weather conditions.
Pruning cannabis plants is a training technique to increase yield and control the shape of the plant. Some common pruning methods are:
A female plant is ready to harvest when the glands on the capillary stalked trichomes transform from clear to milky white. Some growers can even schedule their harvest based on the color of the stigmas.
Stigmas typically transition from white to orange or red to brown. Growers should also be aware of the strains’ normal blooming seasons.
After harvesting cannabis plants, proper drying and curing are critical for buds. These methods assist in maintaining and enhancing tastes by keeping terpenes and cannabinoids while decreasing chlorophyll and eliminating the plant’s vegetal taste. The drying process is often done in the open air — freshly harvested weed plants may lose their weight (up to 75%) due to loss of moisture and clipped branches, stems, and leaves.
After drying, the cannabis is nearly ready for consumption. Now comes the difficult part of cultivating cannabis curing to produce a superior product. This procedure is comparable to that of aging good wine. Curing should be done in glass jars and stored in the dark for 2 to 4 months. As the chlorophyll begins to degrade, the color of the bloom will alter somewhat. Due to the metabolizing process, the flavor and scent become more distinct.
Cannabis cultivation can have several environmental impacts:
Technologies like precision irrigation may reduce water use, and tools such as life cycle analysis would advance understanding of cannabis cultivation’s environmental impacts. It’s important to note that these impacts can vary based on the cultivation methods (indoor vs outdoor) and the scale of the operation.
Sustainability should be a guiding element in the growth and development of the cannabis industry. The industry may lower its environmental imprint, preserve resources, and contribute to a more sustainable future by implementing environmentally friendly agricultural techniques. Continued research, innovation, and collaboration among producers, researchers, policymakers, and consumers will be critical in promoting cannabis cultivation sustainability.
Moreover, by using environmentally friendly methods, cannabis farming may be converted into a sustainable and ecologically responsible practice. The cannabis sector may provide an example of sustainable agriculture by prioritizing environmental preservation, carbon footprint reduction, water conservation, waste management, and community participation.
Whether a cannabis plant is developed from a clone or a seed, it needs a medium to provide a foundation for a healthy existence. A growing medium is the substance that plants are planted in throughout the growth cycle. Whether you utilize hydroponics, aeroponics, or regular soil gardening, your chosen growth medium must give air, water, and nutrients to the plant’s roots.
The most popular medium for cultivating cannabis is soil. Healthy soil is an unusually stable growth medium, retaining enough moisture to provide the planter adequate time between watering sessions. Soil is widely available and very simple to deal with, making it a useful growth medium for a wide range of gardeners, from novices to seasoned pros. Soil may be grown both indoors and outdoors.
Indoor farmers prefer hydroponic culture, which feeds plants with a nutrient-rich liquid. Perlite, coco coir, vermiculite, and hydroton balls are all typical hydroponic mediums, allowing efficient nutrient absorption while using less water than soil. Hydroponic techniques are also routinely employed in greenhouses but are rarely utilized for outdoor cultivation.
Here are key practices to follow to ensure maximum production:
Here are some common cannabis growing problems and how to fix them:
Most nations and local jurisdictions where cannabis is legal — whether medically or recreationally — allow some kind of home cultivation, although growing restrictions vary greatly from country to country and even city to city. You should know your local rules and regulations if you are a potential or present home grower.
Here are some interesting trivia and statistics about cannabis cultivation:
If you are growing cannabis legally, you must follow all relevant provincial, territorial, and municipal laws, including local bylaws, regarding zoning, fire safety, electrical safety, inspection requirements, and remediation requirements.
To start cultivating cannabis, you will need to follow some basic steps. First, you must choose a suitable location for growing your weed plants. This could be an indoor or outdoor space, depending on your preference and the climate in your area. Next, you will need to select the right type of soil and nutrients for your plants. Once you have your soil and nutrients, you must germinate your seeds. As your plants grow, you will need to monitor their progress and provide them with the right amount of light, water, and nutrients.
For those new to cannabis cultivation, some strains stand out for their resilience and ease of development. For instance, Blue Dream is known for its robust growth and high yields. Another strain ideal for novices is Northern Lights, prized for its resistance to diseases and pests.
The ideal soil for growing cannabis is dark, loamy soil with a slightly loose texture, plenty of nutrients, and feels spongy when wet. It’s also crucial that your soil always has a pH between 6.3 and 6.8 for optimal nutrient absorption.
The best lighting for indoor cannabis cultivation is LED grow lights. They are energy-efficient, generate less heat, and have a longer lifespan than other grow lights.
To grow cannabis indoors, it is important to maintain the right temperature and humidity levels. You can use air conditioners, evaporative coolers, or space heaters to maintain the ideal temperature range. Conversely, you can use humidifiers or dehumidifiers to maintain optimal humidity range.
Ed Rushford’s impact on cannabis growing is undeniable. Though he tends to focus primarily on 2 areas, plant training techniques and dealing with disease, pests, and other problems, he has offered many insights into how cannabis plants live and grow. That’s not to say that Ed is unfamiliar with the complete life cycle of cannabis, from seed to harvest, but he uses his widespread knowledge to hone in on the minutia and niche areas of growing cannabis. Ed’s goal is to spread knowledge and allow for everyone to become better growers. About this Author