Table of Contents:
- How to Grow Cannabis 101: An Introduction to Cultivation
- Cannabis Greenhouse vs. Indoor Grow
- Minimizing Indoor Grow Costs
- How to Maximize Cannabis Yields
- Cannabis Greenhouse Construction Process
- Cannabis Cultivation Equipment
- Planning a Cannabis Cultivation Facility
- The Unique Challenges of Cannabis Cultivation
- VPD Dehumidification & Cannabis Cultivation
- Light and PAR
- Cannabis Irrigation
- Top 20 Cannabis Growing Questions – FAQ
- Glossary of Terms: Cannabis and Hemp Extraction
- Industry Resources
How to Maximize Cannabis Yields
8 Ways to Increase the Yield of Greenhouse or Indoor Grows
Maximizing your cannabis yield is not just about the quantity of cannabis harvested, it’s also about various stages of plant growth will haveits quality to ensure a valuable product. In most cases, the value will equal potency which includes the amount of active cannabis compounds such as terpenes and cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, and CBG.
To maximize cannabis greenhouse yield you need to evaluate and optimize the basic foundations of cannabis cultivation.. Once you have these covered, you are better prepared to address any problems that may occur during the entire growth period.
In this article, you’ll learn about some of the best ways to maximize the yields of your cannabis greenhouse or indoor cannabis grow facility.
Table of Contents:
1. Start with High Quality Seeds
Starting with high quality seeds should be a no-brainer but this factor is often overlooked. The market is flooded with various genetic strains so you may want to do some test grow runs in your grow space on various seeds before committing to purchasing a large amount and going into production. This reduces business risk and ensures that you find the right strain for you.
It’s also important to remember that not all strains produce equal amounts of yield. The genetic makeup of the strain grown also has a large role to play in the equation. Genetics will determine what the final product will be used for and ultimately its value on the open market.
2. Manipulate Plant Growth Direction
There are several ways to manipulate growth, one of the most well-known being the Low Stress Training (LST) technique which forces cannabis plants to grow wider by bending them. Thin and tall plants have low yields but wide and flat plants allow more light to reach more leaves. The more light is available to the leaves, the more energy the plant is likely to gain for general growth. But this technique needs great care and needs to be started when the plant is young and pliable; if you do it too late in the growth cycle the plant may break.
Another popular method to train your plants to grow flat is Screen Of Green (scrOG) which involves putting net or screen over your plants to prevent them from growing any taller and encourage them to grow wider.
Lastly, there is the supercropping method which involves bending the plants until there is a ‘snap’ sound but without breaking the skin of the plant, and then taping the break. This technique takes great skill and needs to be executed with precision. Supercropping encourages the formation of new growths at the near-break points without cutting off and losing any existing growth.
3. Increase Light Intensity
As you may already know, light – or the lack thereof – is a critical tool to maximize your cannabis and hemp yields. Put simply, correct light exposure during the various stages of plant growth in greenhouse will have a huge impact on your yield quality and quantity.
After planting clones or seed germination, it’s important to start controlling light intensity. At the vegetative stage plants will grow upwards quickly and if young plants overstretch, their stems may become weak which makes them lose balance and start to lean over. You want to avoid this at all costs because your plants will be weak from the beginning which will create challenges later on.
At the vegetative stage, you want to avoid your plants getting too tall because it will be even more difficult to regulate light at the flowering stage. Shorter and wider plants are easier to expose to light.
Your plants will need light to be increased over time as they are moving forward in vegetative growth stages (propagation, then grow out, before flowering) – these are known as “long” days. However, to promote flowering, plants have to be switched to “short” days, which are comprised of less light exposure.
However, it’s worth mentioning here that how you actually achieve light intensity (electricity vs. natural sunlight) will have a direct effect on your power bills and therefore the profitability of your business. This is why even though fully enclosed indoor grows are popular, your city or county may increase the cost of power at any time so a hybrid indoor grow/greenhouse may actually increase your margins and contribute to a more successful business.
4. Automated Control of the Growing Environment
Depending on your chosen strain, you may want to grow cannabis outdoors or in a hybrid greenhouse. While outdoor sun-grown cannabis is appealing to some consumers as a more ‘natural’ choice, growing cannabis outdoors introduces many uncontrollable risk factors and often does not result in maximum yields.
To reduce risk factors even further and increase your chances of success, the most critical piece of equipment you will need to maximize yield in your indoor grow or greenhouse facility is environmental-controlled automation equipment.
When you automate your growing processes you’ll save time and money, and reduce the risk of human error and natural events such as sudden temperature changes. Computerized automation ties all the various systems (irrigation, cooling, heating, ventilation, etc.) together to ensure they all run smoothly and with the least amount of manual labor.
For example, when you automate temperature and humidity, you optimize your plant growth to the highest degree and reduce the risk of mold breakouts and produce healthy fat buds.
You will also avoid the risk of burning away delicate terpenes and cannabinoids if the temperature is too high at the flowering stage. Ensuring that your humidity and temperature are controlled will increase the potency as well as the effect and flavor profile of your plants.
5. Automated Nutrient Supply
Another way to maximize yield via automation is to automate nutrient delivery to your plants. When you supply the right nutrients at the right time of plant development, you’ll ensure that your plants will thrive. Taking the risk to deliver nutrients without careful monitoring is likely to destroy your entire crop.
Initial signs that you’re delivering too many nutrients include visible signs like leaf burn. Too little nutrients and you’ll slow growth. When you automate this process you can focus on supplying just the right amount of nutrients to ensure more yield. If the leaves on your plant are clear of any spotting, bronzing, or yellow burn marks, then nutrient delivery is at an optimum.
6. Pruning your Plants
Pruning your plants works to maximize yield by cutting parts of your plant that are hindering growth. For example, large canopy leaves will block light from reaching the rest of the plant underneath. Trim your cannabis or hemp plants so the canopy is even and no part of it is being shaded.
You can also enhance your plant’s well-being by cutting off any yellowing or dead leaves, as these will drain your plant’s energy unnecessarily. Your plant still sends nutrients to dead or dying leaves and cutting them off will stop this process, and allow the plant to focus more energy on other areas.
By pruning your plants you’ll encourage them to grow wider and as mentioned earlier, wider plants mean more potential places for buds to grow because the entire plant is more evenly exposed to light. By keeping your plants short and wide, they produce more and larger buds because they’re not using their nutrients to grow tall.
Pruning also reduces the risk of mold because it encourages better airflow around the entire plant.
- Are any bud sites not getting enough light? Prune the leaves above.
- Is the plant getting too tall or bushy? Start pruning.
- Cut away any yellowing or obviously dead leaves.
- When your plant starts flowering stop pruning but tuck leaves instead because these leaves will provide energy for the flowering phase.
If you follow these tips above, you will be maximizing your flowering/budding phase to deliver healthy, terpene- and cannabinoid-rich buds.
7. Understanding the relationship between VPD (Vapor Pressure Deficit) and RH (relative humidity)
Most growers would traditionally use RH to measure greenhouse or indoor humidity but in recent years, VPD is becoming more popular because it’s a more accurate form of measurement and produces better crops.
VPD is more focused on the overall health of your plants and allows you to better optimize the correct bandwidth of humidity for cannabis plants. This results in larger yields, improved quality, and optimum plant growth.
RH only measures how saturated the air is with moisture, however, vapor pressure deficit measures the difference between moisture saturation and the existing amount of moisture in the air, in terms of pressure.
8. Proper Harvesting at the Right Time
Harvesting your plants at the correct stage of growth will ensure that you maximize your yield. In fact, there’s a very slim window when the timing is absolutely optimum for harvesting, ideally, this is when the buds/flowers are fully developed and ‘ripe’.
For most strains, the flowers or buds ripen fully over a window period of 2-3 weeks. This time is your sweet spot and your plants will need daily, if not hourly inspection, to ensure you harvest at the correct time.
Harvesting too early before the time window period elapses leads to low yields and low potency because the buds have not yet had time to mature and reach peak potency. Harvest too late and the buds will start losing potency, terpenes (effects, flavor), and highly desired cannabinoid concentrations like THC and CBD.
How do you know when it’s the right time to harvest? There are two ways most growers figure out the right time to harvest:
- Flower Pistils: When pistils, or hairs on the flower, are white and noticeable, it’s too early to harvest, wait for the white pistils to turn a dark amber color.
- Trichomes: You’ll need a magnifier to take a closer look at the stalk of glandular trichomes (resin glands) on flower buds. When they begin turning milky and appear cloudy, you are coming into the sweet spot of harvest time.