First of all, not all strains can produce hard, dense buds and give you big and heavy yields. Genetics play a huge part but some manipulation and techniques can be used to increase overall yield, both from more bud sites and from more heavier buds.
To have the optimal yield and harvest, plants need to be grown in optimal conditions. To some that may be in a warm climate outdoors directly in soil and to some it might be indoors under a specific set of lights and other environmental factors. Finding a “sweet spot” might require some observation and you might not get it perfect in the first run.
With more and more countries legalizing cannabis, regulations are written, in most cases, so that they limit the number of plants people can have, either by person or household, so increasing the yield and maximizing the production is key. The same methods and techniques can also be applied to hemp plants, that are usually grown for CBD and other non-THC cannabinoids and compounds.
Optimizing grow room conditions
Optimal grow room temperature should be between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius in vegetation and between 17 and 27 degrees Celsius in flowering. Sativa (dominant) strains usually like and can handle warmer temperatures while Indica (dominant) strains like cooler temperature more. Having optimal temperatures assures that you have tight and small internodes with compact, more dense buds. Too hot and to some extent too cold temperatures will produce either small buds or fluffy,airy and extended ones.
Humidity should be between 70 and 80 percent during the seedling or clone stage, between 40 and 60 percent during vegetation and between 40 to 50 percent during flowering. Sativa (dominant) plants like a more humid environment than Indica (dominant) plants. Optimal humidity and temperatures will make sure your plants produce high quality potent buds loaded with terpenes.
Good airflow is crucial for healthy and big cannabis plants for a number of reasons. Good outtake takes care of the hot, stale air that the lights produce keeping the temperatures lower while intake provides fresh air and air exchange which makes it harder for any pests, fungus or bacteria to attack your plants.
Having a few vents or fans gently blowing on your canopy is also a good idea. Not only will it strengthen the plant and make for more sturdy branches and stalks but it will make your plants grow faster. You don’t want them blowing too hard but having the tops of your plants slowly moving would be ideal. By blowing between the canopy, vents remove excess humidity that comes from transpiration which in return make the plant absorb extra water and nutrients from the roots. Also, by removing the stale, warm and humid air, it greatly decreases the chances of mold or mildew appearing and gnats or spider mites attacking the plant,
The size of the container defines the size of the root system and big roots will give you big, strong plants. Choosing the proper sized container is very important because it will have crucial influence in your plant development and eventually harvest results. Depending on the size of the container you might want to leave you plants in vegetation for an extra week or two for them to reach their full potential.
Beside the size, the type of container can make a big difference too. Some materials will warm up faster and more when exposed to grow lights, some will absorb oxygen differently and some will help form your root ball better.
If you use regular potting containers you can drill a few holes on the sides to allow for better air circulations and air pruning. And if there aren’t already there, drill a few holes on the bottom to allow the extra water to drain.
Increasing light intensity
Stronger and better light will also give you that extra and is the factor that usually brings most benefits. There are different lights you can use for your cannabis grow and all have their pros and cons. Choosing the right spectrum of light for every phase of plant development will greatly increase your plant growth and bud production. Putting stronger lights with more wattage or more lights and adding other light spectrums such as UV will give you more output. Different light spectrums give you different cannabinoid and terpene production causing higher potency or better quality buds.
When it comes to lights PAR is the measurement you need to look at. 600-900 PAR will be good enough for flowering. Going over 1000 PAR would require CO2 to be introduced so that the plants could use that extra light. Replacing your CFL or MH/HPS with HID or LED lights will give you lower temperatures, allowing you to lower the lights and enabling the plants to use more of the light energy while keeping the electricity bill lower too.
Another method some growers use to increase the yield is to put additional lights below the main canopy or on the sides, exposing the lower buds that would usually get much less light and making them bigger and denser. If not used already, reflective materials like mylar, poly film, foylon, microfiber or just a coat of clean white paint will increase the reflection of the lights and give out better light penetration and coverage.
There are several ways growers train plants to get bigger yields but not all strains respond to it the same way and not all are suitable for every kind of training. Basically, what you want to accomplish is more bud sites with bigger, denser buds.
To get more bud sites, you want to expose all the growth sites and tops to the light and to accomplish that, growers often use:
LST or low stress training, which is done by tying the plants tops down and making it grow more horizontally with each branch becoming a top and growing vertically. Mainlining is a form or LST in which you cut off all other tops and branches except the certain number you training your plant for which in return makes for that number of bigger and denser buds.
Topping or Fimming which is very similar one to another. Topping is done by cutting the top of the plant and on the place where you cut the top, two new tops will appear. Fimming is done by cutting the ⅔ of the top, including top and joining leaves part, which in return gives you 3-4 new tops.
Supercropping, which is bending or twisting and breaking your stalk or branch, allowing other growth or tops to catch up. The trick is not to break off the stalk but to damage the tissue enough. Usually the branch or top that you’ve supercropped will come up in a few hours, although you can force more damage and just have the branch or top grow bent, forcing all the internodes to form new tops. After your plant recovers, a knuckle will form on the place where you broke the stalk which will allow for more energy to travel through that part because of the bigger surface and will also make it stronger.
SCROG or Screen of green method, which is basically just LST but with a net or a screen used to train our plants canopy. Materials used should be from natural and soft not to damage the plant tissue, with a grid of rectangles a couple of centimeters wide and long. You place the screen or a net over your plants and as the grow, you just tuck the tops below the net, making the plants grow horizontally and getting a new top on every new internode that will continue to grow upwards.
Lollipopping is often used by growers in order to get bigger and denser buds. Basically it’s just removing the bottom third of your plants. Those parts of the plant would receive very little light and those are called popcorn buds, usually not worth the trim. By removing all those smaller buds, the plant concentrates its energy towards the growth that’s left, making the buds bigger and denser.
General pruning, removing the big fan leaves that block the light and removing the underdeveloped growth will also increase the light energy your buds are getting and using too.
Water and nutrients
Over watering is the main mistake new growers make. Allowing your plant roots to intake fresh oxygen is as important as giving them plenty of water. Watering more often but with less water gives you more optimal grow conditions. Forcing the roots to seek the water while keeping the humidity at more stabilized levels gives you a bigger and healthier root mass.
Nutrients play a key role in the final yield too. Using too much and expecting the plant to give you a better yield just because you pumped it full of nutrients is one of the most common mistakes new growers make. There is a limit of nutrients that your plant can use and it can vary significantly from strain to strain, even from phenotype to phenotype. The best way to find the sweet spot for your plants is to start from a lower dose recommended and build up to full dose or more. Measure the PPM going in and out and figure out how much can your plant use and always, look at your plants and how they react to anything. Often, less is more but by providing your plants with all the nutrients and elements that it needs you you can get a considerable increase on your yield.
It’s always best to measure things and we measure the amounts of nutrients in PPM.
Most strains will feel most comfortable with the feeding in between 700 and 1000 PPM in the first and 1000-1600 PPM in the second part of flowering, followed by a flush.
Wrong PH levels may cause your plants to have slower growth or even be toxic to them. Too low PH levels, both in the growing medium and in the water or nutrients can be toxic to the plants, while too high PH levels will cause your plants to exhibit slowed or stunted growth. Optimal soil or medium PH should be 5.5-6.5 while optimal water or nutrient PH should be 5-6.5 depending on your medium and strain preference.
Some growers like to introduce CO2 to the growing environment to increase the yields too. Although CO2 alone won’t increase your yield, it allows you to lower your lights, as your plants can then take higher temperatures, and it allows your plants to use the nutrients more faster and efficiently. Adding CO2 makes your plant perform photosynthesis more efficiently, producing better, faster and stronger plant growth.
Of course, all the training, nutrients and environmental parameters can’t change what’s in the genes. Selecting the strain that’s most suitable for the training and growing method is crucial. Generally, Sativa (hybrid) plants are taller with bigger internodes, usually yielding less, with buds that are not as hard and dense as the ones produced by Indica (hybrids). Looking for traits like good branching, big solid buds and fast growth will assure you get the biggest and best yield and quality.
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