Young cannabis plants need optimal conditions to grow. Let us help you with your first crop of legal marijuana for optimal yield. Learn best techniques and preparation required for cloning marijuana, plus tips to ensure optimum root development following clipping from the mother plant. As both drug cannabis and hemp cultivation proliferate, agronomic challenges lurk on the horizon. But there are solutions.
How To Grow Weed At Home : Easy 10-Step Guide For You
As soon as the pandemic hit, everyone was stuck at home. Everyone was looking for things other than working from home and waiting for home deliveries. It was a dream for everyone for a long time until the novelty of the idea wore off, and everyone wanted to look for new hobbies. We started looking for new things to keep us engaged and indulged.
Maybe you were also one of those people who picked up a pen or brush and started discovering your talents. Others figured that they got a green thumb and started growing plants. But, surely no one ever thought of growing weed? Is growing your own marijuana worth it? Yes, it is, especially if you indulge in smoking it. You can find stores to buy weed online legally but with growing your own weed, you will be able to learn many additional skills in gardening and farming during this process.
If you are making up your mind about how to grow weed at home, there are a lot of factors to consider. The process is not as simple as sowing a seed and letting it take its time to grow and reproduce. Weed cultivation is a multi-billion dollar industry that is growing day by day.
However, commercial cannabis or sativa plants still have a long way to go. Growing cannabis is a very long and caretaking process. Let us help you understand the process and the important factors to growing good weed at home.
However, if you live in the US, you must be cautious. Growing cannabis plants still is not legal all across the US. You cannot grow weed plants at home in some states. When growing a cannabis plant, you must ensure your respective state allows you to grow weed at home. You can find how to pass a drug test for weed on the internet.
We will help you understand the factors and steps you must take for growing a cannabis plant. Here you will find ten distinct steps to help you grow weed effectively. Let us see how growing weed indoors is a new, fun hobby to adopt.
Step 1 – Deciding the Best Cannabis Seeds or Clones
The cannabis plant can be a male plant or a female plant. Like any other plant, you need to be specific about a cannabis plant. This decision is important to determine what you want from your cannabis plants and what are the best weed strains .
Look for Female Plants
Hence, if you buy cannabis seeds from your local seed bank, you should look for a label for “Feminized Seeds.” Males give you small flowers or “Buds.” The flowers obtained from them are usually discarded and are of no apparent use.
When you grow weed from female cannabis seeds, you will get plump pungent flowers that are the primary source of THC. Hence, if you want to grow weed indoors, you should choose female cannabis seeds for a good yield. However, if you are new to growing marijuana, you can also opt for clones.
Clones are a Better Growth Option
Clones are essentially cuttings from mother plants or female plants. You can obtain these cuttings at your local nurseries. Just as they are easier to obtain, they are much easier to plant, grow, and yield in less time. You only need to plant some cuttings in the soil, and you should get most of them to grow.
But you also need to plant each clone in a separate pot. Planting these clothes directly in your garden soil can make them run rampant like wild shrubs. You can plant them in a kitchen top tray and wait till a week before you take them out in the sun. The kitchen top trays will help you limit and monitor the plant’s growth.
Step 2 – Creating the Perfect Cannabis Grow Room
No matter how enthusiastic you are about growing marijuana, you do not need a massive grow space. If you are growing weed indoors, you can use small kitchen top trays for a handful of plants. You can also use empty cabinets, unused rooms, or an attic to grow cannabis.
Whatever you decide, you should ensure that your grow space has the best conditions for growing weed indoors. Here are some useful tips to help you choose the best grow space when growing weed indoors.
Start With a Small Pot and Work Your Way Up
You only need a few plants to start and gradually work your way up to dozens of marijuana plants. Growing marijuana indoors is a skillful process, and a mandatory learning curve is involved. Marijuana plants are very sensitive during germination.
However, once your marijuana plant is mature enough, it can grow on its own at a fast pace. Germinating seeds is never easy when you are new to cannabis growing. Once your marijuana seeds start germinating or clones start developing the root system, they will soon reach the flowering stage.
However, you will need to give them space to grow once they develop into healthy plants. Once the flowering stage starts, your harvest will exponentially increase every season with increased plant growth. You will start seeing flower clusters with your cannabis growing daily.
A Clean Grow Space is Mandatory
You must ensure that your grow space for growing weed is hygienic and free of any outside pollutants. If you grow weed indoors only, the dedicated grow room must have an air filtration system for fresh air. It is to ensure that there are no airborne contaminants or insects. Hence, you will be growing cannabis just as lab-grown cannabis.
You must also clean the space around your marijuana plants to avoid bacterial or fungal buildups. You should make a weekly schedule to clean the place thoroughly and monitor the plant leaves. Furthermore, you can also protect your weed plant by spraying them with any homemade organic insecticide. Only use organic pesticides or fertilizers since marijuana can absorb toxic metals. Moreover, never use chemical fertilizers or growers as weed plants accumulate these substances in their bodies. Hence, it would be best to test the soil and its pH levels before planting.
Create a Sunlight Schedule
Direct sunlight is the most important factor for a weed plant during the growing stage. Growing cannabis can be a nightmare if the lighting conditions are not properly regulated. You need to create a check and balance for how much light they experience and for how long.
If you grow weed indoors, they need 12 hours of uninterrupted sunlight. After that, the weed plants need to rest in complete darkness, where they produce flowers that transform into buds.
Like every other living thing, the marijuana plant needs to rest. If any ambient light is seeping in from anywhere, the flowers that develop are full of seeds. These flowers do not yield smokable buds; hence it is important to create a schedule.
Sativa plants are photoperiod plants that require a strict schedule for sunlight exposure. Thus, it would be best to create a light cycle during the seed germination and growing stage. They must face both extremes of the spectrum to produce optimal results during the vegetative stage.
Additional Measures to Grow Weed
To grow cannabis at home, you must ensure that the growing environment is free of pests. You also need to ensure that no airborne invaders are involved, like bacteria, fungus, or anything else.
Another important factor to monitor is the humidity and temperature of the grow tent. To grow cannabis optimally, you need to be very specific with the temperature and humidity settings.
You must ensure that you cultivate cannabis in trays or pots that are easily accessible and manageable at any time. You can convert them into your own cannabis garden with a little more care and effort.
Step 3 – Install Cannabis Grow Lights
The primary light source is the sun itself. But no one wants to have the extra responsibility of putting your plants in and out twice a day. It is when artificial grow lights come into play.
It would be best if you allowed a reasonable budget to decide on a good lighting setup. However, it would cost you some money at the start. But once the whole system starts working on its own, you will reap good fruits with your weed crop.
It is a long-term investment to ensure the best possible weed buds. Here are some of the best lighting options to choose from.
LED Grow Lights are Ideal for Growth
If you are an avid weed enthusiast, money might not be a concern for you. If you can, choose the best possible option on the market right now. Right now, LED lights are the most preferred option among weed growers.
Marijuana grows ideally in perfect lighting conditions that are optimized according to the growing stage of the plant. LED lamps can be the most effective and energy-efficient lighting solution for your indoor weed plants.
LED lamps produce a wide array of wavelengths across the light spectrum. They use very little energy and are practically cool lights. The only drawback is that they can cost you many times more than any other lighting system. However, they are a worth-it investment in the long run. Moreover, if you decide to go for one, you should not save money on subpar, low-quality LED lamps.
Install Induction Lamp Grow Lights
Induction lamps are another option for home growers. It is quite unconventional, but many companies are now adopting them for the commercial production of cannabis. They have proved to be very energy efficient and decently effective compared to more conventional grow lights.
These lamps produce high-intensity lights and can be compared to HID (high-intensity discharge) lamps but are way more energy efficient. Although they produce heat, you need to turn your ventilation on more often.
Install HID Grow Lights
Most people use high-intensity discharge lights that can effectively optimize indoor growth. These can give you rapid results and be the most value-for-money appliance to install. However, there are some drawbacks to using it.
The first one is that they need more components to run alongside them. Hence the total cost for a HID light package can be expensive. But if you are willing to spend some extra money, they can prove to be useful for growing weed at home.
You can choose between two types of HID bulbs. It depends on what growth stage your marijuana is in. You can choose between a metal halide (MH) bulb or you can get a high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulb. MH bulbs are mostly used during the growing stages. HPS bulbs are mostly used when plants are in the flowering stages and have developed the tap root. HPS bulbs can cost more, but you should be able to get better efficiency.
HID bulbs can produce a lot of heat, so they are not energy efficient in any way. Thus, it would be best if you also kept your circulation active most of the time when using HID lamps. But if you can spend extra money, you can use air conditioning in certain areas to alleviate heat rapidly.
Install Fluorescent Grow Lights
Fluorescent lights are available at any local electrical store. They are also easier to use than the other options discussed above. They are high propagating lights and can be ideal for young plants with less yield.
These lights are also low wattage, so they do not produce any heat. Further, they do not require a lot of power to run. They will not affect the internal temperature of your growing area while still doing the job.
They might not be too effective for bigger plants. However, for a home project, they should be more than sufficient. They are the most economical option for home growers.
Step 4 – Marijuana Grow Ideally in Fresh Air
When setting up a system to grow marijuana, you need to have a good ventilation system. It is to make sure that the airflow is consistent but also that it is not too windy. It is to ensure the flowers can pollinate easily without any outside help.
Create a Ventilation System
You can create a ventilation system yourself. Just make sure that you place the exhausts strategically. You do not need to place too many fans. Just enough to create a gentle airflow.
For this purpose, you can use box fans, bracket fans, wall-mounted oscillating fans, etc. Place them strategically so that they work effectively with each other. It is to ensure that the temperature does not rise due to CO2 buildup.
We all know that warm air is lighter and rises. A good ventilation system helps by pushing out hot air and pumping in fresh cool air. You can achieve this by mounting your outtake exhaust a little higher. Your intake valve should be a couple of feet higher than the ground.
It will ensure that your indoor grow room has a fresh supply of CO2 and oxygen at all times. Further, this also regulates temperatures for your young plant growing indoors. Indoor growers need to maintain the optimal temperature range for their cannabis indoors during the vegetative stage.
Most cannabis varieties flourish in cool temperatures of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit when in sunlight. But most strains like indica grow best at night in temperatures around 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This optimal temperature happens when you switch off the lights and leave them to rest.
Step 5 – Create a Monitoring and Control System
The next step in how to grow weed is to create a closed monitoring system where you can control everything. The system needs to be automated if you cannot tend to your plants for a few days. The system also needs a backup power supply to keep the alarms and sensors running in case of power outages.
Install a Thermostat
You need to install five basic apparatus to keep your plants growing at the best temperature. You need a thermostat, outlet exhaust, inlet fan, light sensors, and LED grow lights. A thermostat is installed to monitor the temperature inside the grow room continuously. This thermostat is set to turn on the ventilation system to bring in the fresh cool air.
It helps you create a stable temperature zone inside your designated grow space. It also helps you control the humidity as well. Further, when you automate the ventilation system, you are essentially saving energy and reducing the cost of production.
Automate a Watering System
You also need to set timers for your watering systems, especially when the cannabis plants are in vegetative growth. The watering system needs to be optimized to water during optimal hours when the plants need it most. Over watering can cause the yellowing of dark green leaves.
Install Light Radars or Sensors
You cannot possibly be always there to put the plant in the dark and bring them out in the sun every day. For this, it would be best to install a self-sliding roof to let in sunlight when it’s time. You can automate the roof with a timer to automate and strictly monitor the sunlight exposure for the plants.
Usually, when you grow marijuana indoors, they need sunlight for at least 15 to 18 hours a day during the growing age. When they are mature enough and reach the flowering stage, they need 12 hours of darkness. Hence, it is important to regulate the sunlight exposure when growing cannabis indoors.
Monitor Soil pH
Cannabis plants are very pH sensitive and need constant pH control. For this, you need to ensure the quality of the water. If you are using ordinary soil, you should try to maintain the pH between 6 and 7.
If you use a pH meter, look for the sweet spots of 6.2 and 6.5. Further, if you use hydroponic systems, you should aim between 5.8 and 6. Hence, these pH ranges can guarantee optimal growth and yields. Still, you should install a pH monitor for ease.
Step 6 – Be Creative and Know How to Grow Weed
You can grow cannabis indoors as well as outdoors. If you grow indoors, you can use ordinary soil, or you can use a hydroponic system. It mostly depends on your personal preference and ease of maintenance.
However, in whatever way you decide, you should be confident and stick with your decision. Any process can be effective. But, if you want to save money and are just starting, it is better to use organic soil.
Hydroponic solutions can be very hard to manage and have more associated risks. So a newbie should start with soft peat as a growing medium.
Organic Soil vs. Hydroponic System
Soil is abundant and is always inexpensive. You can easily acquire good nutrient-rich soil from your nearest river bank or freshwater pond. But it would be best if you were vigilant about any inorganic industrial waste present at your soil’s source.
You can get better results with high-quality coco peat, which is airy and less dense than your traditional soil. It can offer more nutrients and help seeds germinate and grow much faster. However, it would be best to fertilize them more frequently than when you plant them in regular soil.
If you use animal manure for fertilizer, beware of the chances of adding unnecessary bacteria and harmful organisms. However, there is another more advanced growing system called a hydroponic setup. In it, you grow your plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution that ensures rapid growth with abundant yields.
Hydroponic solutions can give you a much more reliable delivery system for nutrients, but the chances of error in it are also very slim. You can get ideal growth and yield if everything is done according to the book. But there is no room for an error contrary to the soil.
Step 7 – Choose Appropriate Containers to Grow Marijuana Plants
Whenever you plan to grow your marijuana, you should be very cautious about the location and vessel of planting. Cannabis can be rampant if left to grow in the wild with unlimited land. It is why you must decide how many plants you want to grow. You can start with five plants since that would be enough for personal use.
Choose Containers Carefully
It would help if you also decided on how much you want your plants to grow. You can start with small cups and work up to half-foot pots. You also need to limit your plant growth every time they grow twice their size.
It would help if you used a wet paper towel for germinating your seeds. Afterward, you can put them in organic peat in a small pot. It would be best if you were very considerate of your final growing station.
You need one-gallon soil per foot length of your plant. However, make sure the soil has good water drainage. You can also opt for pre-filled soil kits that ensure increased airflow, better water drainage, and absorption.
Step 8 – Love Your Cannabis Plants by Giving Them Organic Nutrients
Every plant needs its fair share of proper nutrients to grow effectively. Weed needs some extra attention when it comes to nutrients. It is the most important growth factor for cannabis after good lighting conditions.
You can get premium-quality cannabis buds if you provide them with proper nutrients that help develop flowers. Although marijuana can grow in harsh conditions, it does not ensure the best yield. Hence, you need to use the best organic soil to get the best yield out of your harvest.
The most important macronutrients include nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, copper, and iron. You can get these nutrients pre-packaged. But you can also create organic home fertilizers to fulfill all these nutrients.
You can also buy a pre-packaged super soil mix fortified with all these nutrients. You can always replenish the soil afterward. However, it would help if you did your homework about the nutritional needs of your specific weed strain. You can always create your custom nutrient feed with measured quantities of the above nutrients.
Step 9 – Cannabis Plants Loves Water
Every amateur home botanist thinks that every plant needs a lot of water. But, in reality, plants do not consume water as humans do. Hence, you must be very vigilant when watering your plants. It would be best if you were extra careful when watering weed plants.
Although some plants can grow optimally in large water ponds like rice, cannabis does not need too much water. Cannabis plants love water and can store a lot in their body.
Avoid Watering Too Much
Cannabis is very sensitive to air circulation, and too much water can affect that circulation around the roots. They show stunted growth if they do not get enough air circulation or if the humidity is too much. It can also affect flower production.
You need to measure your plants’ water intake. It depends on several factors. For example, the size of your plant, the stage of growth, the rate of growth, and the season as well. If it is summer, they will require more water.
But you also need to ensure that the growing vessels have enough holes to allow extra water drainage. It prevents any pest or germ culture growths. You must also install RO (reverse osmosis) filters to distill your water and avoid excess chlorine or harmful inorganic chemicals.
It would be best to synchronize your watering cycle with the internal temperature and humidity meters. It will help you determine the speed at which the soil dries out. This way, you can save water and optimize your plant’s growth.
Step 10 – Take Care of Your Home-Grown Cannabis
No matter how much of an enthusiast you are, you cannot keep an eye on your weed plants every time. But there are many ways you can ensure you do every step of automation to keep the process in check. But how do you grow weed ideally in a home DIY situation?
Invest in Automated Monitoring Appliances
If you have spent a considerable budget on alarms, meters, and thermostats, you would only need to maintain them. You only need to re-calibrate or reconfigure your thermostats. Moreover, it would help if you ensured that the backup power supply is always available.
You can also automate the power supply and save money by installing several solar panels. These can save your power expense substantially. Likewise, you must ensure that the water reservoir has a fresh water supply and is purified.
Eliminate Male Plants
You also need to know what plant sex you are growing and what yield you expect. Let go of any males and grow more females to get premium buds. You must also learn to differentiate between the two and eliminate male growths.
You can use a pre-feminized seed for germination. But if you want to know the basic difference, males have banana cluster-like pollen sacs. The females have calyxes, which have a white hair-like structure.
Another thing to learn is when to transplant a seedling into a bigger pot. Additionally, you also need to learn the proper light cycles of every plant, especially around the flowering season.
Bonus Step – Avoid Stressing Your Cannabis Plants
Cannabis plants can get stressed easily, so you must acclimate them to different climate conditions, including rain and sunlight. Once your clones develop roots, you can take them for bright shade in the sun. Furthermore, it would help if you gradually put them out in the sun for a limited time before trying direct sunlight.
Ideal Sprouting Season
The ideal season for growing marijuana outdoors is from April to October. Hence, starting with seeds in the fall, you will not get enough flowers for a good yield. The flowering cycle would be short. You will get the same flowering phase if you plant cannabis seeds mid-season.
Thus, you can start by planting a healthy clone with multiple solid branches. It will induce flowering in the blooming season, and you will have enough buds to enjoy. However, you must be careful with how you plant them and what soil mix you use with each clone.
What Do We Think About Cannabis Growing?
Marijuana has been a part of many cultures throughout human history. Every culture has its own way of harvesting and using this wonder plant. But in the last century, doing and growing weed has been considered taboo. However, this needs to change.
Growing Cannabis Indoors Should Be Legalized
Growing weed has been illegalized and regulated so much that even amateur growers worry about getting caught. However, many states are legalizing its harvesting at small scales and domestic sales. But still, the superstitions about weed’s adverse or addictive properties should be crushed.
This plant has existed and survived among many civilizations. But no one ever thought of banning it, burning it, or confiscating it then. Also, if you live in specific states, you can get a small-scale license easily and start growing your own cannabis.
If you want to grow weed in the back of your garage, you will surely need to get a license. If you already grow weed as a hobby, you would most probably have some knowledge about this special plant. For all newbies, you must love the care and hard work that goes into harvesting and growing these plants. You have to be patient as indoor cannabis plants need lots of care and maintenance.
Enjoy the Whole Process
Growing cannabis or any plants at home is a very indulging experience. You always learn new things with every new harvest. You develop a certain affection and empathy for the farmers who grow weed on a large scale every day.
If you grow weed as a hobby, you learn a lot about botany in general. Also, you develop a relationship with these plants just like a pet. The more love and care you give these plants, the better yield you can get from cannabis grown indoors.
Surely the process of germination to harvesting is a long and tedious one. But believe me, it will be worth it once you go through the curing process. Once you create your first joint with these potent buds, it will all be worth it. But, above all, this is a fun hobby and should not be pushed too much. Growing great weed at home is a trial and error process. If you are not one of those professional growers, you only need a few plants to rely on.
Here Is Our Top Pick: Budpop’s Delta 8 Flower
Reputation of a brand The company in question is none other than BudPop. They had caught our notice due to their significant commercial success.
They specialize in creating high-quality Delta 8 and CBD products, which are currently, in our opinion, the most favored by cannabis consumers.
Continue reading this BudPop’s Delta 8 flower review to learn more about the products that this company sells.
Cloning Marijuana: How to Grow Cannabis Without Seeds
Cloning is a bit of a hot-button issue in the world these days. Only as far as cloning humans is concerned though. That’s fair enough considering all the moral, ethical, and spiritual considerations that come along with premise of replicating a human life. There’s no such questions to be debated in the botany world, and cloning plants has been done with much success for decades now. For example, cloning marijuana is an example of this approach to growing plants is a hit with home grow enthusiasts around the world.
You CAN grow a marijuana plant from a seed, but if want the same strain with exactly the same properties, and in some case the same unique characteristics, then you will need to clone it. If you ask an expert about how this process works, be prepared to absorb a LOT of information.
But ask them how to make clones from weed plants and you’ll find it’s quite straightforward. Not as easy as it is to buy marijuana clones, but those of you who like being hands-on with your home grow experiments will want to give cloning marijuana a try.
Cloning Marijuana Guarantees an Identical Plant
An overview of cloning marijuana will explain how it involves cutting of a small piece of an existing marijuana plant and then having that plants develop its own roots . The cut piece of plant will have the same gender and exact same genetic structure as its donor plant, meaning that the plant that eventually regrows itself from the cut piece will too .
Let’s say you have a particular marijuana plant that’s especially healthy and hardy and gives you a bountiful yield of exactly the type of bud you love . Would the sound of having a number of those EXACT same plants sound good to you? Darn right it would, and if you have that plant then achieving this is entirely possible.
Other advantages to cloning marijuana include:
- Expanding on your crop at no additional cost – asides from basic supplies, making clones is free
- The ‘head start’ that clones have in comparison to seedlings, meaning in the big picture that they’ll be at their flowering stage more quickly
- Better choice for those hoping to practice Sea of Green or 12/12 from seed techniques due to clones already being mature and able to be oriented to the flowering stage immediately
Cloning Marijuana: Guidelines
The first consideration you’ll need to have when cloning marijuana is that a ‘mother’ plant will be required to get the clones from. Obviously, choosing a female plant that displays signs of vigor and good health is best. If you have one of those you’ve likely at least mastered the basics of how to grow marijuana, but now you’re about to start down a whole new path.
Here’s a list of the primary supplies you’ll need:
Sharp scissors – You’ll need these to clip your clone pieces from the mother plant, as well as for future defoliation and trimming once your clones have grown into being their own plants
Starter cubes – these are also essential, as they’ll be the homes for your clones while they develop their own roots
Cloning Gel or Cloning Powder – These products are good because they provide a sealant around the cut plant tissue and then supply it with the hormones required for optimum root cell development
Proper lighting – This will be very well understood if you already know how to grow cannabis, but we’ll go over it again briefly in case it’s not. Natural sunlight is best of course, but that’s not possible for many growers much of the time. If that’s your situation, T5 grow lights are the best for clones and seedlings, and especially when suspended 8 or 9” above your clones.
Depending on your situation you may need more supplies, but everyone who’s going to try cloning marijuana will need these four.
Taking Your Clones
Alright, we’re now going to assume that you’ve got your healthy mother plant and all the supplies you need to start. The first thing you’ll do is determine the readiness of your mother plant. There is one basic criteria for this; if the leaf shoots or nodes of the plant are alternating (which means not connecting at the same point on the stem) it is mature and ready for cloning.
Next, soak the starter cubes in water for just a few minutes. No longer. This is important – soak them too long and you’ll reduce the effectiveness with which they’ll promote the clones developing a good root.
Now let’s get down to the hands-on part of how to make clones from weed plants. You want to clip new growth tips on the plants, where there is a new branching and a new top. It is also better to take your clippings from the lower half of your plant, as these leaf shoots have more rooting hormones than those higher up. They will grow roots more quickly because of these hormones.
These growths should be easy to identify being right on the top and often a much lighter green in colour.
Now, with scissors in hand, prepare to make your cut:
- Use your thumb and index finger to grab the shoot an inch or so below the new growth tip
- Eyeball your new cuttings so that they will be between 5 to 8” long, so you will be cutting 5-8” below the growth tip
- Hold it steady as you take the scissors and proceed to cut the branch away at a 45-degree angle
- After making the cut, use the sharp inside edge of one of your scissor blades to ‘scuff’ up the area just above your cut. This will expose more of the stocks ‘raw’ genetic material inside it and aid in the cloning process
Immediately after this you should place the cutting into a glass of water, and do the same for all cuttings you take. After a short period of time you can remove them and trim off huge lower leaves or clip top fan leaves. Return to the water right after doing so.
Once removed, if you’re going to use cloning gel or cloning powder now is the time. If not, proceed to place your new clones into moistened starter cubes. Press around the bottom of them to ensure they’re well sealed.
The last tip here is to keep your resettled clones out of grow lighting for the first couple of days to give them a chance to settle. No longer than 2 days though. And once you do start to give them lighting, don’t give them 24 hours of it. 16-18 hours a day is better.
Just like that you’ve got no need to buy marijuana clones, you’re now sufficiently in the know to create your own using nothing more than your existing crop and a few supplies.
The Challenges of Seeded vs. Seedless Cannabis
As both drug cannabis and hemp cultivation proliferate, agronomic challenges lurk on the horizon. But there are solutions.
Temperate regions of Australia produce low-THC cannabis crops grown for their edible seeds and seed oil. Hemp seed crops release clouds of male pollen grains, each with the potential to fertilize a female flower and form a seed. The male pollen plants then wither and die.
Today, a multitude of cannabis seed companies are producing more seeds than ever, and now that laws are changing, more and more cannabis crops are being grown outdoors from seed.
Broadacre (farms that produce crops on a large scale) CBD producers are leading the return to growing crops from seed. Auto-flowering THC and CBD varieties are gaining popularity (especially in regions exceeding 40° latitude north or south) where summer days are too long to induce flowering in most cultivars.
But the growing of seed crops can cause problems. Put simply, the airborne pollen from seed crops poses a serious threat to the much more lucrative business of growing seedless drug cannabis flowers.
Morocco: En Route to All-Female (Seedless) Crop Production
Morocco, where crops destined for hashish production are seeded, is on a steady path toward all-female seedless crop production. The popularity of feminized seeds, which produce only female plants, has grown exponentially, yet nearly all modern Moroccan drug crops still do not start from these because many growers continue to sow seeds that they harvest (rather than purchasing new seeds), and crops grown from these seeds are half male and half female. Pollen fills the air in mid-summer, and by autumn every female plant is full of seeds. (When females are pollinated, their flower growth is reduced, and the seeds produced are undesirable for end consumers.) Morocco’s future of not harvesting seeds is clearly on the horizon as awareness amongst farmers and widespread availability of less expensive female seed are slowly becoming reality.
Left: Modern-day seedless drug cannabis crops are grown from genetically identical female cuttings so that no pollen and no seeds are produced (photo by Mel Frank). Right: East Asian farmers harvest their highest-quality hemp fiber crops before they flower, so no pollen or seeds are produced.
Biology Meets Agronomics
Most plants produce flowers bearing both male and female sexual organs, and the majority of these are pollinated by various animals ranging from insects to bats. In natural settings, Cannabis plants present an exception to the norm, with millions of pollen grains borne on male plants that release their genetic potential into the breezes. Those pollen grains that complete their reproductive journey land on the receptive ovule-containing flowers borne on female plants and fertilize them, the seeds maturing a few weeks later. Individual male plants die within a few weeks, leaving the remaining pollinated female plants to mature their precious seeds (the next generation) without competition for water, nutrients and sunlight.
In another exception to the norm, separation of the sexes is the key to horticultural cannabis flower production. Both THC and CBD drug cannabis crops are grown without seeds. The sinsemilla (seedless) method is commonly used to enhance the production of secondary metabolite target compounds such as THC, CBD and aromatic terpenes. When seedless Cannabis is grown for drug production, any seeds are undesirable and drastically lower the value of the dried flowers. Early sinsemilla growers realized that they could simply remove all male plants so no seeds formed, and their precious females would develop much larger and more potent flowers. Female plants with desirable traits were vegetatively reproduced to multiply the clones in common production today, and there are no longer troublesome male plants in most modern drug crops.
We believe seeds producing all-female crops will be widely used for broadacre THC and CBD production in the near future. Why grow any males when you can grow only females, and why keep mothers and make cuttings when you can more easily, efficiently and cheaply sow seeds that are essentially a female cutting in seed form?
This sounds like a perfect scenario. What could possibly go wrong?
What Is Industrial Hemp?
Today’s common concept of “industrial hemp” crosses regulatory boundaries between traditional hemp (grown for its fiber and/or seeds) and drug cannabis. According to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly referred to as the U.S. Farm Bill), any Cannabis plant (or cannabis product) containing less than 0.3 percent THC (with no limits on CBD content) is legally classified as “industrial hemp” no matter whether its end use is for fiber, seed and/or drugs. A more accurate term for high-CBD cannabis is “medicinal hemp” as it reflects both its end use and its low THC content.
Significant CBD levels (commonly 2 percent to 5 percent dry weight) are extracted from the flowers of hemp fiber and seed cultivars grown in many regions of Europe and China. Much of this CBD yield comes from multi-product hemp crops also yielding fiber and seed commodities. Across North America, CBD is largely extracted from modern, high-CBD drug cultivars that are much more closely related genetically to modern sinsemilla hybrid drug varieties than they are to hemp fiber and seed cultivars.
Enter Traditional ‘Industrial’ Hemp
In Europe and North America, hemp fiber crops have traditionally been harvested upon reaching technical maturity when the male plants begin to shed pollen. In eastern Asia, hemp fiber crops destined for fine textile production are harvested before they flower, and therefore no pollen or seed is produced. No flowers, no pollen and no problems. The timing of a fiber crop harvest—either before or after it releases pollen—determines whether it poses a threat to neighboring sinsemilla cannabis growers. Depending on cropping techniques, fiber hemp production can be compatible anywhere. The real issue is not about fiber hemp production, but seedless drug cultivation. However, the situation differs with hemp seed crops.
Hemp-seed crops are grown specifically for seeds sold primarily to the food and body-care industries. Hemp seed and seed oil are more in demand than at any other time in recent history, and the profitable growing of hemp seed is increasing at suitable temperate latitudes worldwide. Based on their common environmental needs, seedless drug cannabis thrives in the same agricultural niches as hemp seed crops, and this can lead to competition between these agronomically incompatible crops.
Long-distance Cannabis pollen transport is well-documented. A single male Cannabis plant can produce millions of pollen grains that are easily carried on the wind. Each summer, allergenic pollen traps installed along the Mediterranean coast of southern Spain collect Cannabis pollen that drifts across 100 miles of open sea from hashish fields in the Rif Mountains of Morocco.
Field-grown hemp seed crops are agronomically and economically incompatible with drug cannabis crops, and growing them within the range of pollen travel will likely result in conflicts. Even cannabis plants grown in greenhouses and grow rooms can become fertilized by pollen that enters through the ventilation system. It is of note that during the early days of industrial hemp cultivation in the Netherlands several indoor and glasshouse sinsemilla growers reported finding seeds in their normally seedless crops. (Tip: High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters effectively remove pollen from air intakes in sealed grow rooms.)
In the sinsemilla setting of zero tolerance for seeds, long-range pollen drift, especially outdoors, sounds frightening. Reactionary voices within the cannabis community have raised the alarm, but is there a real threat? How are the cropping strategies of growing seeded hemp cultivars for their CBD content versus growing seedless drug varieties for THC and/or CBD content playing out across North America and worldwide?
HempFlax BV farmers in Romania harvest hemp fiber, hemp seed and CBD from the same standing crop. Multi-cropping strategies are the most economically viable for broadacre cannabis commodity farming.
International Precedents and Lessons
In response to increased market demand for both hemp seeds and CBD, traditional hemp cultivars’ flowers are now commonly grown to produce both CBD and seed. Hemp stalks are harvested for their economically valuable fiber from both the male and female plants, while female flowers produce economically valuable compounds such as CBD, THC and aromatic terpenes as well as seed. Broken flowers remain after threshing hemp seeds. Until recently, this CBD-rich waste was burned in the fields. Now, CBD is extracted from the flower biomass. Several hemp cultivars contain sufficient amounts of CBD to make extraction profitable.
We perceive the most lucrative agronomic model to be triple cropping an existing approved (low THC) industrial hemp cultivar for fiber, seed and CBD. HempFlax BV, a hemp cultivation and processing company with cultivation sites in the Netherlands, Germany and Romania, harvests all three products from the same standing crop. This lucrative cropping strategy allows a farmer to make agronomic decisions based on three commodity markets—fiber, food and drug—and we predict will prevail in the near future among progressive farmers worldwide.
China and Romania are traditional hemp farming regions without commercial seedless drug cannabis production. Manitoba farmers have dominated North American hemp grain seed production for 20 years and have established Manitoba as a hemp seed producing region. Few outdoor sinsemilla growers would attempt to establish production there. Rather, drug cannabis is more often grown indoors in urban areas, and in glasshouses and outdoors in regions without hemp seed crops. To that end, conflicts are rare, but could still arise.
In most drug cannabis producing regions (e.g., Colombia and Mexico, as well as the Caribbean, Africa and Southeast Asia) crops are grown seedless to increase the flowers’ potency. It would be unwise to attempt growing seeded crops in these regions. In all these examples a pairing of local traditions with economic factors determines whether Cannabis crops are grown with or without seeds.
Several of the aforementioned agricultural business models could prove economically viable in any given region, but many are not mutually compatible. The agricultural differences among broadacre, greenhouse and indoor production create an economically segregated terrain where few conflicts have yet to arise. However, conflicts will undoubtedly arise unless specific cannabis growing regions become set aside for female-only growing of seedless drug crops.
North American Constraints
In the face of steadily expanding seedless drug crop acreage bolstered by supportive legislation across America, will there remain anywhere for hemp grain seed crops to make their long-awaited comeback? Will the U.S. always rely on Canada and China for healthy hemp seed products?
The expanding range of Farm Bill hemp (high-CBD seedless flower) production in 2018 reached 23 states. Colorado and Montana, leaders in U.S. hemp production, each grew more than 20,000 acres, followed by Kentucky and Oregon with around 7,000 acres each, and Tennessee, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York, Nevada, Wisconsin and Vermont had from 1,000 to more than 3,000 acres under licensed cultivation. More than 78,000 acres of Farm Bill “hemp” were grown in 2018 nearly, tripling the less than 26,000 acres grown in 2017.
Now, private citizens as well as agricultural entities across North America are increasingly allowed to grow both industrial hemp (including hemp grain seed crops) as well as seedless drug cannabis for medical and adult use. In some areas this situation sets the stage for potential conflicts until industry self-regulation and enlightened agricultural policies take effect. In the meantime, most regions appear to offer opportunities for everyone.
However, the situation is becoming increasingly convoluted. The U.S. landscape is a complex puzzle of differing jurisdictions, each with its own evolving cannabis scenarios and range of regulatory solutions. Until the advent of the CBD industry, industrial hemp cultivation held little attraction in most regions of the U.S., and largely due to prohibition, most seedless drug cannabis was grown either in remote rural or insular urban settings isolated from any hemp pollen. Many newly cannabis-tolerant jurisdictions may allow Cannabis plants to be grown for whatever end use someone might choose—be it fiber, seed and/or drug.
In many regions across North America, sinsemilla growers arrived decades earlier than the recently arrived “hemp” growers. North American sinsemilla growers pioneered drug cannabis cultivation and established their turfs long ago, largely in agriculturally marginal rural areas not well-suited to broadacre hemp fiber and seed production. California presents several cases in point.
Sparsely populated rural regions of Northern California have been the primary producers of sinsemilla since the 1960s, and since the 1980s indoor, artificial-light growing has become increasingly popular in more urban regions with access to the electrical grid. The established agricultural precedent in both scenarios is drug cannabis production. So far, industrial hemp and hemp seed crops have had little, if any, effect. It is really up to the growers of seedless high-THC and high-CBD drug crops to defend their turf (especially outdoor cultivation, which is common in California and expanding elsewhere) from the potential pollen threat of seeded crops.
Seeds or Seedless: What’s the (End) Use?
Seed-grown cultivars will always remain popular for broadacre farming of hemp seed and fiber crops as well as cannabinoid and terpenoid crops. We predict that consistently improving newly developed clones will feed the connoisseur cannabis (drug) dry flower market, while broadacre cultivation from seed will supply the majority of future market demand for extract-based products worldwide.
On the West Coast, state cannabis grower associations are striving to establish sinsemilla production regions based on climate and terroir similar to the appellation system used in wine branding. These groups have grown organically from illicit rural grower communities and provide good examples of self-regulation of our industry from within by a group of peers. Appellation membership will likely require qualified farmers to grow only female plants from cuttings, and the sowing of seeds (a possible source of male plants and contaminating pollen) will be strictly controlled.
Both industrial and medical hemp crops are most profitably produced under broadacre agriculture, while sinsemilla flower crops are most profitably produced under glass. California’s Sacramento, San Joaquin, Imperial and Salinas valleys present examples of regions where potentially conflicting business models may clash. Many growers in these traditionally broadacre farm and orchard regions have switched to glasshouse production of vegetables, bedding and house plants, and cut flowers. Sinsemilla flower growers will move into regions where glasshouses are readily available, and local regulations usually stipulate that existing glasshouse infrastructure must be utilized. This places seedless growers near neighboring broadacre farms where it is also economically feasible to grow fiber and seed hemp.
Southern California provides an even more dynamic terrain. As urban areas grow, cultivators occupy former farmlands that still border active agricultural zones. And, traditional broadacre farming regions that previously grew few if any sinsemilla or hemp crops are now open to the growing of either one or both.
These scenarios exemplify the need for agricultural authorities to take responsibility for local regulation of their cannabis industries before conflicts between growers arise. There are few established historical and agricultural precedents for either sinsemilla or hemp growing in prime agricultural regions. These areas produce many crops profitably, and as with other crops, are where the future of commercial cannabis production for many different products will be focused.
Given that sinsemilla (seedless) growers have zero tolerance for seeds in their flowers, buffer zones around pollen-producing crops should start with at least a 10-mile radius. Safe distances should be increased to up to 30 miles or more if the pollen source is a broadacre grain seed field or if seedless crops are established down wind of seeded crops. Agriculture officials can make “pollen risk” assessments and generate pollen maps for mixed cropping regions where both seedless and seeded crops may be grown. Local cannabis appellations can enforce their own in-house rules to ensure that members remain compliant by growing only female cuttings.
In addition to industry self-regulation, agricultural policies concerning cannabis cultivation will become agriculture department initiatives, influencing state and eventually federal legislation to delineate which regions are reserved for broadacre hemp seed, hemp fiber and/or drug production from seeded plants. We expect that farming regions where broadacre agriculture is already the norm and where fewer sinsemilla growers operate than many other regions will be where hemp seed and fiber crops will be grown. Sinsemilla growers simply won’t settle in these regions, and the few who live there already will likely move.
Regulatory allowances must also be made for certain branches of our industry. Drug cannabis breeders rely on sowing seeds in their search for novel traits, and cannabis seed companies rely on carefully controlled pollinations to produce consistent offspring. The threat of stray pollen is minimal, and seed companies should be allowed to responsibly produce small amounts of pollen for research purposes.
Many suffered and lives were lost in disputes between frontier cattle and sheep grazers over the best use of Midwestern grazing pastures. Let’s hope our cannabis community will have the foresight to avoid predictable calamities. There are many economic factors in the mix, and guidelines for establishing enlightened agricultural policies in each region should be established soon before push comes to shove. In the end, it is really about growers gaining deeper awareness of their local situation and doing their best to be good neighbors.
How will various jurisdictions with differing constituencies and priorities create equitable policies for the control of stray cannabis pollen in sinsemilla-only areas?
People are quirky, and there will always be a few individuals who will grow fiber or seed hemp in regions where drug crops are commonly grown, and there will be others who try to grow seedless cannabis flowers where seed hemp is well established, but these will be exceptions to the local norms. Across North America, effective and fair regulation of our burgeoning cannabis industry will largely rely on understanding which branch of our industry was established in each region first, and whether a precedent exists for its continuation; ultimately, policy decisions will be based on which end use offers the most income (including compliance costs, local trade, employment and taxes) to local and state jurisdictions.
Local, state and federal agriculture organizations should ultimately control cannabis licensing and permitting, first in local jurisdictions and eventually nationwide. Agricultural officials must take stock of regional conditions and become sensitive to the unfolding cannabis industry and determine the traditional basis for cannabis economics in their region. If sinsemilla growers have contributed to the economic viability of their local economy, albeit illegally, then they should be invited to have a strong voice in determining future cannabis policies and regulations.
Mojave Richmond is the developer of many award-winning varieties such as S.A.G.E., which served as a springboard for creating many notable cultivars. Richmond is a founding member of the international consulting company BioAgronomics Group. [email protected]
Robert C. Clarke is a freelance writer, photographer, ethnobotanist, plant breeder, textile collector and co-founder of BioAgronomics Group Consultants, specializing in smoothing the transition to a wholly legal and normalized cannabis market. [email protected]