What’s the Best Time to Start an Outdoor Cannabis Grow?
Saturday July 4, 2020
I t’s amazing how quickly the world can change, isn’t it? In the past 25 years, cannabis has moved from an illicit substance relegated to the shadowy corners of the black market to an “essential” industry because of COVID-19. In many states, local cannabis laws allow you to grow your own, and why not? When you grow your own, you can do your own quality control, know the purity of your product, and manage your own supply. Luckily, no matter where you live in the country, you can start your own grow in a container as small as a flower pot. However, cannabis is a picky plant and will need at least four-to-six hours of light each day and a few months to produce its desired cannabinoid goodness, so there is some variability in the growing season depending on where you live.
B efore we move on, here are some date ranges to help guide your growing plans. When Spring Equinox comes around, start germinating your seeds. Make sure those plants get outside by Summer Solstice in June, and harvested around Fall Equinox. For more specifics, you’ll need a fortune teller. Better yet, look into a book by celebrated cannabis growers like Ed Rosenthal’s Marijuana Grower’s Handbook, and of course, every green thumb’s favorite, The Farmer’s Almanac.
For a (shallow-ish) deeper dive into what to expect for your outdoor cannabis grows, here’s a look at optimal grow times for regions across the U.S.
Northwest (Northern CA, OR, WA)
When you plant cannabis in this loamy region you’ll never have to worry about rain. However, mold development and lack of sunshine can make growing outdoors a more difficult proposition.
Hybrids that flower earlier are suggested as the most successful grows, especially in Washington and Oregon. California plants can be put in the ground earlier due to the region’s warmer weather. Your best clue indicating when it’s time to get your plants outdoors is when daylight hours increase and the temperature starts to warm.
Southwest (Southern CA, NV, AZ, NM, CO)
If you choose to grow your plants outside in this scorching climate, be prepared to pay attention to the temperature, where highs that regularly exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit will slow your plant’s growth. Sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids do well in this environment because of their lineage tracing back to the equator, where the weather is uniformly hot. Before moving your plants outdoors, make sure the last frost has passed
Midwest (IL, MI, Eastern CO)
This region is tricky because the weather is highly variable; rainy and muggy, and/or hot and dry. Winter may come early to this region, so choosing an indica-dominant hybrid strain might be your best bet for growing outdoors since its flowering time is shorter. Try to shoot for germination after the final frost of spring has passed in these regions.
Northeast (NY, MA, PA, NJ, ME, VT)
With its rich soils and abundance of water, the northeast region can be a great place to cultivate cannabis outdoors, especially if you choose an early harvest strain that can finish up before fall kicks in. Best time to move your plants outdoors in this region is the middle of April, when days are longer.
The temperatures in Florida might be good for cannabis growing, but the humidity definitely is not.
In fact, because of all that moisture in the air, it’s best to avoid indica strains and grow sativas instead to avoid the mold that inevitably comes along with humidity. In this region, you could start the germination process as early as February. Just make sure that the last frost has passed before moving your plants outside.
Of course, there are many different factors that go into the timing of an outdoor grow. Use these estimates as rough guidelines and adjust as needed. Happy growing!
Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work – which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor – covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.
With the summer growing season in full swing, many of you have reached out asking what's the optimal time to start an outdoor cannabis grow. Check out some recommendations based on different regions where marijuana cultivation is popular.
Cannabis Growing Guide
If you are just beginning to grow your own plants, it is important to remember these key steps:
- Have a Medical Marijuana Recommendation. This is vital to any type of growing and you will not be able to legally grow marijuana unless you have been recommended it by a licensed physician.
- Acquire the correct seeds for your condition; Sativa strains are taken for their stimulant properties, while Indica strains are taken for pain and restoration of mobility.
- Incubate the seeds in warm water or a warm, damp paper towel in total darkness until a white root grows from the seed. This is an indication that the seed is prepared for soil planting.
- Select a growing area with an abundance of light. You will need at least six hours of sunlight if you are growing in an outdoor area or greenhouse environment. If growing indoors, a high-pressure sodium bulb is a must for the early stages of the growth period, especially if you plan to continue keeping them inside.
- Ensure the temperature in the space averages between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- With the roots facing down, place the seeds in unfertilized soil in a small pot or bucket. For this stage of growth the plant will provide itself with nutrients; it will only require water and light.
- After several weeks, place the plant in a larger pot and mix organic fertilizer into the soil to ensure the plant receives maximum nutrition. Be sure to water the plant whenever it becomes dry to the touch.
- Dispose of plants that do not produce a bud: these are male plants and not of any use to the end process.
- Look carefully at the trichomes of the plant with a magnifying glass: if they are amber and milky, the plant is ready to be harvested. This most commonly occurs after 8 to 16 weeks from initial planting.
- Remove the mature plants at the center stem at the soil line. Remove all leaves that have not flowered and hang the plant upside down for about one week.
- After the stem has dried completely, all you need to do is trim the buds to process and enjoy your freshly grown cannabis!
Another option for medical marijuana growers is to use clones. This method utilizes cuttings of another plant and removes the wait time for seed germination and guarantees a female-only crop. This process is also usually cheaper than buying seeds and can produce a much higher quality and more accurate bud because the genetic makeup is identical to the parent plant.
If you are just beginning to grow your own plants, it is important to remember these key steps: Have a Medical Marijuana Recommendation. This is vital to any ty