From soil's whispered secrets to the flowering crescendo, join us in unraveling the poetic dance of this versatile and sustainable cultivation endeavor.
Outdoor cultivation is the most natural way of growing hemp. It does not require the use of artificial lights, airflow systems, or light-blocking systems. Instead, all that is required is land, sun, and water. While this may seem like a simple and straightforward process, outdoor cultivation does come with some inherent challenges.
One significant disadvantage of outdoor cultivation is exposure to all of nature’s elements, including temperature fluctuations, extreme weather events, and parasites, all of which can have an impact on the plants quality. However, there are also several advantages to outdoor cultivation that cannot be replicated by indoor or greenhouse methods.
For example, outdoor-grown hemp is exposed to a wider, more intensive spectrum of light that penetrates deeper into the plant. This advantage allows the plant to express its genetic potential on the highest possible level, resulting in high-quality hemp. Additionally, outdoor cultivation is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than indoor or greenhouse methods, as it does not require as much energy consumption or specialized equipment.
While outdoor cultivation may have some drawbacks, it remains a popular option among growers who value natural, high-quality cannabis. By carefully selecting the right location and taking measures to protect the plants from environmental factors, outdoor growers can produce exceptional product that meets the needs of consumers and the demands of the market.
Growing hemp in a greenhouse comes with both advantages and disadvantages. One significant drawback is the limited supply of sunlight that the plants receive. To compensate, growers may block the sun at certain points to “trick” the plant into blooming earlier than it normally would. However, growing under natural sunlight allows hemp to generate natural and full spectrum terpenes, which may result in higher quality product. Despite efforts to mimic natural sunlight with artificial lighting, the quality of greenhouse-grown hemp cannot be compared to that grown outdoors under the sun.
On the other hand, greenhouse cultivation has several benefits, including lower energy costs compared to indoor growing, as it does not require as much energy-hungry artificial lighting and airflow systems. Greenhouse and outdoor cultivation also have a lower negative impact on the environment, making them more sustainable options.
Despite these advantages, there are also some disadvantages to greenhouse cultivation. Growers need to take into account their geographic location, local weather patterns, and different seasons throughout the year. Unlike indoor cultivators who can grow hemp year-round and harvest multiple times a year, greenhouse growers may face limitations due to changes in sunlight availability and temperature fluctuations.
Indoor cultivation provides growers with complete control over the cultivation process, including room temperature, air flow, and light manipulation. This level of control allows growers to create a sterile artificial environment, which is ideal for growing high-quality plant. However, this advantage can also be a disadvantage. If toxins are produced indoors, it can be challenging to eliminate them. Moreover, if the behavior of the plant and the CO2 content in the air are not closely monitored, the plants can emit toxins that can lead to CO2 poisoning.
Some modern genetics have already been adapted to indoor growth and perform better in this environment. In fact, there are many hybrid strains of cannabis on the market that are specifically designed for indoor cultivation. Therefore, some growers prefer indoor cultivation to ensure optimal growth conditions and maximize their yield.
Indoor cultivation also provides additional benefits, such as year-round cultivation, increased control over pest infestations, and increased privacy. However, the high cost of electricity and equipment needed for indoor cultivation can be a significant drawback.
Hemp Growth Phases
Hemp is a plant that grows quickly, and understanding its growth process is crucial for healthy growth and reaction to various events during the six phases of its natural growth process.
The first stage is seed planting. For hemp to grow into a healthy plant, it is essential that the seed is healthy and undamaged. Furthermore, the soil must be correctly prepared and contain all the required nutrients. The most suitable soil should have a neutral pH level between 6 and 7.5, and if grown outdoors, it is recommended to test a soil sample for better results. The soil must also be moist, but not soaked. For optimal growth, the soil temperature must be at least 10 degrees Celsius and exposed to at least eight hours of direct sunlight.
After a few days, the seed starts to germinate, depending on sun and temperature conditions. In this stage, the seed starts to develop its route to be. In good conditions, it can take from 5 to 10 days to emerge. When it can be seen on the surface, it already created a small route and on top, two small leaves appear, from which the plant starts to draw sunlight. The seed sprout continues to the seedling stage.
The seedling stage lasts from 2 to 3 weeks. Larger leaves start to grow with each set of nodes. It is defined as a seedling until it produces 5 to 7 arms on each leaf. In this phase, the plant is still very sensitive to change, such as unsuitable irrigation, strong UV light, and extreme weather conditions. Therefore, some growers tend to grow the plants in a safer environment first, such as a greenhouse, and move them outdoors at a later stage.
In the vegetative growth phase, the plant gains most of its mass. It rapidly grows vertically and horizontally as it prepares for the flowering stage. Some growers cure the plant at this stage. With curing the leaves at the bottom, hemp can allocate more energy for flower growth, and more nutrients are allocated to the top part of the plant. However, incorrect curing can cause more damage than good, such as making the plant more susceptible to disease or causing a shock.
Vegetative growth can last from 3 to 16 weeks. For growers who want to preserve the plant’s genetics, they can cut the leaves and use them as clones. However, leaves used as clones are not suitable to cut off if the plant is already in the flowering stage, as it cannot go back to vegetative growth.
In the flowering stage, flowers on the plant are produced. Flowering starts when the daylight cycle changes from 16+ hours of daylight to 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. This usually happens naturally between the months of September and October, at the season change. At that time, the Earth moves away from the Sun, and the light spectrum changes from cold blue to warm yellow. In the beginning of this phase, the gender of each plant can also be clearly seen. Male plants reveal their gender prior to female plants and have a typical pollen bag on them. If male plants are not removed from the plantation, they can pollinate female plants. Pollinated female plants use a lot of energy to produce new seeds for the next generation of hemp. Consequently, flowers with lower values of CBD and THC are produced, and it lowers the grower’s yield with processing hemp to the final product.
Hemp harvest is one of the most complicated parts in the entire process. Firstly, we have to mention that harvests differ a lot depending on what the final product is. For example, to harvest hemp for CBD is different than to harvest it for fiber. While you can harvest the plant for fiber with specialized machines and equipment, harvesting it for flowers (CBD) is done by hand, to maintain high level of quality. In this way, we protect the valuable flower and prevent contamination. Flowers also have to be correctly dried (naturally or in a drying machine), and cured to achieve maximum quality for consumption.
The timing of the harvest is also important. The ideal time to harvest hemp is when the trichomes (the small, crystal-like structures on the plant) start to turn a milky-white color. At this point, the plant has reached its highest level of cannabinoid content, which contributes to the potency and quality of the final product. However, harvesting too early or too late can result in a lower-quality product.
Once harvested, it can be processed in various ways depending on the desired end product. For example, it can be used for smoking, vaporizing, edibles, or tinctures. The processing method can also affect the potency and quality of the final product, so it is important to carefully consider the intended use and processing method.