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Growing marijuana outdoors can be quite the risk, but it can also be quite the reward. We will be covering three major factors for outdoor growing: climate, sun, and planting; as well as the pros and cons of growing outdoor vs. indoor.
Climate is the first thing to consider and what environmental factors your crop might be subjected to while growing cannabis outdoors. Will the crop be exposed to occasional winds or downpours? Are the skies normally overcast or will you see plenty of sunlight? Are the temperatures consistent or will the crop see fluctuations? Such questions need to be addressed, because one bad environmental event could wipe out an entire crop and thousands of dollars would be lost.
Now let’s examine how temperature plays a role. Marijuana can grow in relatively cold temps, but not nearly as rapidly or as well as in ideal temperatures. Colder weather causes slower growth and freezing temps can shock or even kill the plants. Cooler temps also make the plants more susceptible to mold which in turn can ruin a crop. In addition, lower temps or large fluctuations can result in a reduction of photosynthesis and an over-purpling of leaves
Regarding heat, it won’t kill marijuana plants, but temperatures that are too high will cause the plants to grow slower. Temperatures over 80° in the flowering stage will not only slow down bud growth, but can also reduce the smell and potency of the buds. Moreover, heat can induce other plant problems such as spider mites, white powdery mildew, root rot, nutrient burn, increased stretching, and wilting.
Humidity is another factor of climate to scrutinize. Temperature and relative humidity (RH) are closely related to each other and each has an important effect on the other. Humidity measures how much water is currently “being held” in the air. Relative humidity compares that amount to the maximum amount of water that can be held at that temperature. Plants can thrive at different relative humidities depending on the temperature of the air. Once the air becomes too saturated with water, it will tend to form dew or films of water over leaves, which leads to mold.
When it comes to climate, here are two key elements to contemplate:
If the air is hot and dry, plants will tend to have a slower, stretched growth cycle and higher water consumption can be expected.
If the air is too cool and humid, plants will grow slowly and will be prone to problems such as those mentioned above.
The sun is the most important and consistent element in every garden. Before planting your seeds or clones, you need to monitor this fundamental tool for measuring energy intake and time. It is the most important and consistent element in any kind of gardening. It will be equally important at the end of your plants’ lives as it is in the beginning. Once Summer comes to a close, you should start to again keep track of the sun and the amount of light that it will provide your plants.
At the peak of Summer, plants will receive about 16 hours or more of sunlight. In the northern hemisphere, when August rolls into September the amount of sunlight decreases dramatically. For instance, within the month of September the loss of as much as 2 minutes of sunlight per day can be expected. This difference will trigger your marijuana plants to change their energy focus to flowering instead of vegetation.
Keep in mind, the process of sex selection involves manipulating amounts of light in order to trick mature cannabis plants to begin flowering. This strong reaction in the plants is not accidental, all plants have the strong ability to distinguish day from night. Thus, when summer turns to fall and daylight decreases, the flowering process starts within days. Because of this sensitivity, marijuana plants can be manipulated fairly easily to induce budding on a schedule. They also have the same reaction to artificial lights, because of the similarity to natural sunlight.
Furthermore, this sensitivity is the reason why you should never plant cannabis in a location where it is exposed to street lights or any other artificial lighting. It requires properly dark nights, just as they would experience in nature during the Fall. This is why growing marijuana is easier in a place that has four distinct seasons. Once you become a grower, you will understand why fall is the favorite time of year for gardening. Most growers like to finish by mid-October or sooner, because daylight hours shorten and cooler temperatures set in.
In some cases, skilled marijuana gardeners are able to produce a double yield during a single season. One method used to accomplish this is the auto-flowering of marijuana seeds, because it will only take 10 weeks for them to grow from seed to harvest. There are also other specific methods that can be utilized to get a second harvest. A successful second harvest depends not only on how well these techniques are executed, but also the location. For example, in a climate further north, plants are more at risk of exposure to an early frost or dramatic seasonal changes. It is much easier in a more temperate zone to harvest more than once in a growing season where early fall is fairly mild.
When it comes time to planting marijuana, the best time is early to late spring, depending on your location. During the Spring and the first half of Summer, the plants will grow tall. Once the summer solstice has passed, they will grow less and put more energy into flowering. Additionally, finding the right spot is important. As previously mentioned, it is a good idea to have your garden in a location where it will not be exposed to any sort of nighttime light. Marijuana plants also mix well with other leafy plants, a plus for keeping away unwanted eyes on the crop.
The plants will require at least 14-16 hours of daylight each day, and more light equals more buds. If you keep them in containers, it will help in the event that they need to be moved to maximize exposure to sunlight or removed from harsh elements. The drawback is that containers can restrict growth, while unrestricted growth yields larger plants. The general rule of thumb is the larger the root mass, the higher the yield.
Check back for more insights on outdoor growing to help maximize your crop!