For all you aspiring cannabis gardeners, our 10 master grower tips for better yields can help you optimize your garden for bigger and more flavorful yields. Master growers in the industry have spent decades perfecting the art of caring for cannabis plants from seed to harvest. Whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, these expert recommendations can help improve and polish your methods.
1. It’s in the Genes
The first of 10 master grower tips is starting off with the right genes. As with any gardening project, what you reap depends on what you sow. Starting off with high-quality cannabis genetics in the form of cannabis seeds or clones is the best way to ensure you get high-quality flower buds. Researching for reputable seed banks that deliver to your area shouldn’t be overlooked.
Even with the highest-quality genetics, things can still go wrong. Each cannabis strain has unique nutrients, lighting, soil, and watering needs. It’s not enough to buy the best. You have to consider your genetics unique growing characteristics. Do they grow fast and tall? Do they require extra pruning? Are they prone to light stress, pests, or diseases?
2. Get Your Hands Dirty
Cannabis plants can be grown indoors and outdoors in a range of growing mediums from soil-based to soilless hydroponic systems. For simplicity’s sake, let’s focus on soil-based growing, which can be done indoors and outdoors. Now, you can’t use just any old dirt to contain your plant’s roots. Here are some of the characteristics you should look for in your soil.
- Texture: Cannabis plants thrive in loam soils, which are a mix of sand, clay, and silt. Loam has a light and airy texture allowing the root system to grow and absorb oxygen.
- Drainage: Your soil should also provide excellent drainage without staying too moist, which can cause root rot.
- Retention: While your soil should drain water quickly, it shouldn’t be too quickly. Your soil should be able to hold the water to give the root’s enough time to absorb the water and nutrients.
- PH: PH refers to the level of acidity or alkalinity of a material. PH is measured on a scale of 1 to 14. Ideally, you want your soil’s pH level to be around 6 or so. Invest in a digital pH meter to ensure your soil is not the cause of future issues.
For newbies, your best bet is to stick with a pre-made potting soil, preferably organic, to get you started. Pre-made soils are ready to use out of the bag, no pH analysis needed. Plus, many contain the key nutrients your plant needs during its formative stages.
3. Feed ‘Em Right
Just like you and me, cannabis plants need the right range of macro and micronutrients to remain healthy. However, you must ensure that you’re feeding your plants the right type of nutrients at the right time. Going overboard with the feeding can result in stunted growth. In fact, when your plants are just sprouting, they won’t need as many nutrients.
Pre-formulated nutrient solutions for cannabis contain the plant’s 3 critical macro-nutrients: Nitrogen (n), Phosphorus (p), and Potassium (K). NPK ratios, as they’re clearly listed on the label of the nutrient packaging, change depending on the stage of growth your plant is in. For instance, vegetative plants require higher nitrogen levels, while flowering plants require higher phosphorus and potassium levels.
In addition, you’re likely to want to start with a lower-than-recommended dose of nutrients for your plants to avoid a nutrient overload. Starting with one half or even one third of the recommended amount can help you gauge how your plant reacts to ever-increasing doses.
4. Let There Be Light
Cannabis lighting options range based on your garden size and budget. Here are the few of the most common lighting options available for cannabis gardens.
- Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs): CFLs are the cheapest option for growers on a budget. While they offer a lower intensity light than more advanced setups, they are an excellent choice for young or vegetative plants that don’t need high-powered lighting. Plus, they’re pretty easy on energy use.
- Light-emitting diode (LED): LEDs can be pricey but the initial investments can pay off with the energy savings you’ll get. LEDs can feature a full spectrum of light capable of providing the right type of light for each stage of growth.
- High-intensity discharge (HID): HID lights are the preferred lighting systems for master growers since they can provide a high power lighting for the large commercial grows. Keep in mind, these systems use a lot of energy and produce a lot of heat, which you may need to account for with temperature control.
5. Keep Your Cool
Ventilation and air flow is a critical component of your cannabis garden. Still and humid air can make your plants more vulnerable to mold and disease. Ideally, you want at least a fan to circulate the air and provide your plants with some light stress to increase their hardiness.
Installing an exhaust system can ensure that the old stale air is filtered outside of your grow tent and fresh cool air is brought in from the bottom of your tent into your plant canopy. For most small gardens, however, a small fan is all you need.
6. Come Rain or Shine
Outdoor growers can rely on their natural environment for light, soil, and water (at times). Indoor growers must carefully create an optimal and artificial environment. This requires you to carefully regulate your garden’s temperature and humidity. Keep in mind, the right temperature and humidity levels change throughout the plant’s growing process and whether the lights are on or off.
7. Quench Their Thirst
Step 7 of 10 master grower tips deals with water. Apart from the right amount of nutrients, your cannabis plants need the right amount of water. Overwatering and underwatering can lead to many growing issues. For instance, overwatering can create the perfect environment for mold and fungus to grow. Underwatering can dry out your plants leading to stunted growth.
If needed, give your plants less water than you think and allow them to dry out. How do you know when it is the right time to water your plants? If the top 3 to 4 cm of your soil feel dry to the touch, it’s time to water. It’s safer to slightly underwater your plants and then you can give them the extra water if needed and they’ll recover if they start to look wilted.
8. Practice Makes Perfect
Low-stress training techniques can yield bigger and better results if done properly. Cannabis training techniques such as pruning, topping, and other methods can ensure that your bud sites are completely exposed to the light. A plant with too much foliage can block lights to lower bud sites and restrict air flow within the canopy.
9. Timing Is Everything
If you’ve done everything right throughout the vegetative and flowering stages, you can end up with a plentiful harvest. However, timing when you harvest your plant is just as important. Harvest too early and you’ll lose out on your bud’s reaching their full potential. When you harvest too late, they may lose potency, flavor, in aroma.
So, how do you know when it’s the right time to harvest? For the most reliable way to time your harvest, look at the tiny resinous glands, known as trichomes, growing on your buds. These microscopic glands start off clear, turn milky white, and become golden yellow when they’re ready for harvest. When some of your trichomes have reached this peak ripe stage, it’s time to harvest.
10. The Final Stretch
After harvest, the work is not over yet. The drying and curing process allows you to remove the excess moisture from your buds and refine their flavor and aroma, respectively.
When drying your plants, cut individual branches and hang them from a hanger in a dark, cool, dry room. Drying can take anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. You’ll know they’re done drying when your branches produce a snapping sound when bent.
Curing your cannabis is the final portion where they’re placed in airtight and UV-protected jars to age and refine. Check on your buds everyday and open the jar in a process known as burping or breathing for 10 to 30 minutes. Leaving the jar open can introduce fresh air. Curing can take anywhere from a month to several months depending on your preference.
Conclusion on Master Grower Tips
As you can see, growing cannabis is as easy or complex as you want. While doing the bare minimum can produce decent yields, continually perfecting your cultivation practices can increase the quality of your flower. If you’re interested in growing like the pros do, enroll in Cannabis Training University’s cannabis certification program.
CTU’s online learning platform makes it easy to go from complete beginner and be on your way to a master grower. Our affordable training program gives you access to course content for 12 months so you can learn at your own pace. it’s never been easier to become a growing master!