Although they might go about it in different ways, the majority of indoor cannabis growers all have the same goal: to harvest out-of-this-world, top-of-the-line bud. No grower is hoping for low-quality, weak bush weed or praying for small yields. For most of us, it’s all about the high-grade kush.
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Harvesting quality bud is a lot easier said than done, though. Even if you do whatever it takes to keep your plants happy — invest in the right lighting system, maintain the right temperature and deliver the right nutrients — things just don’t always go as planned in an indoor grow op.
First-time growers often learn this the hard way, but the good news is that growing is a learning experience, and the more you do it, the better you’ll get. To start your learning experience off right, follow this complete guide on how to get great bud when you grow cannabis indoors.
Start off with the right genetics
The very first mistake that can lead to not-so-great bud at the end of the grow op is to start off on the wrong foot. There’s absolutely no way you’re going to get top-shelf bud if you start with seeds or clones that have poor genetics.
In the past, it was the norm for growers to use whatever seeds they could get their hands on because they were much harder to access. Now, with online seed banks, it’s easy to buy from a reputable cannabis seed bank and choose the perfect strains. Even if you’re on an extreme budget, set some money aside for the right seeds/clones.
Give your plants the light they crave
Plants need light to perform photosynthesis, which is the process that allows them to convert light as well as chemical energy to glucose (AKA food). Without the right amount of light, there’s absolutely no way that your plants and the buds they produce will reach their full potential.
At the beginning and the early phases of development, plants need more daytime hours than dark, nighttime hours. Try to give them at least 18 hours of light in the seedling, cloning and veg stages. Once they’ve developed solid root systems and stem/branch structures, it’s time to switch over to flowering, which is 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
Although the light schedule is important for quality buds, it’s also important to think about the type of light you’re giving to the crop. There are several types of grow lights available to cannabis growers, and the one you choose depends on your specific crop and grow room needs.
High-intensity vs LED lights
The 3 most common types of lights are high-pressure sodium (HPS), ceramic metal halide (CMH) and light-emitting diode (LED). HPS and CMH bulbs fall under the category of high-intensity discharge (HID) lights because they emit a very intense, bright light.
There are pros and cons to choosing high-intensity lighting. The obvious pro is that the light emitted is powerful, which is great for promoting plant growth. But with power comes heat, and HID lights certainly do run hot. This can actually cause a lot of harm because HID lighting makes it difficult to maintain temperature, especially in small grow rooms.
LED lights have quickly become the most popular choice for growers, first because they’re the most efficient on energy, and second because of their low heat output. In all honesty, high-intensity lighting is more often used for higher bud density, potency and yields, but LEDs are an all-around good choice.
For great bud, you won’t want to use fluorescent lighting all the way through. However, fluorescents are a good choice early on, like in seedling, cloning and veg. They’re just not the ideal light type as plants get taller, stronger and crave more intensity.
Be smart with nutrient ratios
All growers know that the base nutrients for cannabis plants are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). These are called macronutrients since a crop needs them in the highest volume. Be sure to feed your crop with plenty of N, P and K, just don’t forget about supplemental nutrients like calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper.
If you choose a high-quality fertilizer, the mixture will contain everything your plants need. However, not all fertilizers are suited for every stage of the grow, mostly because the plants need different nutrient quantities with each phase.
For example, your plants require a higher ratio of nitrogen to carbon in the beginning than they do during the flowering stage. If you continue giving them high doses of nitrogen throughout, you’re basically setting yourself — and your buds — up for failure.
Remember, less is more
Plants can experience stunted growth and poor development from a lack of nutrients. But did you know that too many nutrients can be just as harmful? When you give the crop too many nutrients, the roots and soil become oversaturated with sodium, and this sodium build-up can cause a nutrient lockout.
Nutrient lockout basically means that all nutrients are locked out and can’t be absorbed. To avoid this, just try not to overdo it with the nutrients, and remember that less is more.
Always pay attention to temperature and humidity
A grow room climate that’s too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry is a sure-fire way to have unhappy plants, and therefore unhealthy buds. It’s really important that you maintain the proper temperature and humidity conditions throughout and realise that ‘proper’ means something different for every phase.
In the early days of the crop, plants like the room/tent to be a little warmer in the 70 to 85°F (20 to 30°C) range. As you move into flowering, bring the temp down to the 65 to 80°F (18 to 26°C) range. Optimal humidity levels for clones is high, around 70 percent. For veg, it’s anywhere between 40 to 60 percent, for flower it’s 40 to 50 percent, and, right before harvesting, it’s between 40 to 45 percent.
Keeping these tips in mind is the best way to end your grow op by harvesting fat, potent, dense buds that you’re proud of.