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What are the most important factors in the care and maintenance of your outdoor crop? They include the need to effectively stake, prune, provide preventative pest control and protection from the elements.
Because outdoor cannabis gardens produce much larger plants, effectively staking them is essential to their health. Stakes and wires will not only help the stalks support the weight of the upper branches, but they also serve to protect the plant from strong winds.
While the marijuana plant is still relatively small, it is a good idea to prune the lower branches as they do not contribute much when it comes time to flower. Pruning will allow the plant to focus on the higher and more productive branches. This will increase the growth, and therefore, the yield towards the end of the plantâ€™s life cycle.
As the marijuana plant ages, the upper leaves fill out and form a canopy above the lower parts of the plant. Unfortunately, those lower leaves will likely all die as a result of not getting enough light. â€˜Gutting the plant outâ€™ is a phrase often used by cannabis growers who snip off the lower leaves even before they start to turn yellow, thus benefitting the upper leaves. Also keep in mind, these larger outdoor plants require much more water than indoor ones, and this is a key difference between growing indoors vs. outdoors.
When it comes to outdoor marijuana grows, the biggest concerning pests are spider mites, slugs, snails, rodents, deer, and elk. Now Mother Nature does a fairly good job of providing the natural controls for some of these pests such as ladybugs for spider mites and mice, squirrels, and toads for slugs and snails, but other pests such as small rodents, deer, and elk will require more active controls like vibrating devices.
Another factor that needs to be considered is the exposure to the elements. Mother Nature will not always be kind, and it is a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected. You know the old Murphyâ€™s Law, â€œwhatever can go wrong, will go wrong,â€ so you might as well be ready.
Letâ€™s take heavy rains for example. Here are some concerns and remedies most growers have regarding heavy rains:
Many strains are mold-resistant, but quite a few are susceptible to mold. Do some homework and learn about the strain you choose.
Gray mold is the biggest problem, but for the spores to take hold, there must be a few days of rain in conjunction with a humid atmosphere. If there is a heavy downpour followed by bright skies and the plants dry out, then there is little chance of this happening.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast in the last 2-3 weeks of flowering, especially if there is cola formation and the buds are tight. If heavy rain is in the forecast, then find some large see-thru plastic sacks to cover them. Even if they don't protect the plants at least the main colas will stay relatively dry. DO NOT cover wet plants! As soon as the rain passes, put a high priority on removing the sacks.
Trichomes washing off? This is not necessarily a problem. There would have to be a week of heavy rain as well as other problems with your plants. Yes, rain will dislodge some trichomes but not enough to be alarming.
All the above is under the assumption that you are growing outside in soil. If the plants are in pots or bags and can be moved to a protected area in case of storms, then get it done!
Finally, if the weather turns bad near harvest time watch the plants carefully. Most of the time mold can be seen when it begins to grow, however, sometimes it starts inside of the bud. Once you have detected mold, grab a cutting device and go to work on the infected bud to eliminate it. Start by trimming away the mold with a plastic bag surrounding the cola/branch so that additional spores are not introduced into the air, and on to other unaffected growth.
Stay tuned for more cannabis growing techniques!