How Much Weed Can You Really Produce Per Plant?
Wondering how much weed you can produce per cannabis plant? Here’s everything you need to know about the variables affecting your yield.
Cannabis growers love to boast about huge harvests, but just how much weed can inexperienced growers expect to harvest from a single plant? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at cannabis yield and what influences it, and much more.
- 1. Light and nutrients
- 2. Genetics
- 3. Medium
- 4. Indoor VS outdoor
- 5. Skill
- 6. How to estimate yield
- 7. How to improve your cannabis yield: quick tips
- 1. Light and nutrients
- 2. Genetics
- 3. Medium
- 4. Indoor VS outdoor
- 5. Skill
- 6. How to estimate yield
- 7. How to improve your cannabis yield: quick tips
YIELDS VARY… A LOT
If there’s one thing that’s certain about growing cannabis, it’s this: results vary. A lot. There are many different variables that affect your plants, their health, growth, and the amount of flower they produce. And frankly, trying to guess the size of your yield before harvest is really difficult.
Most rookie growers estimate their yield based on the height of their plants. And that makes sense—at least in theory. Unfortunately, plant size isn’t a very accurate indicator of final yield. In fact, it’s really hard to estimate the size of your yield just by looking at a single aspect of your plant (like height, for example).
Cannabis buds develop on what growers refer to as “bud sites”. These are the spots on branches where pre-flower structures form roughly 4–6 weeks into a plant’s life cycle. Once a plant enters its flowering phase, it stops dedicating its energy to developing foliage, instead focusing on producing healthy buds on these sites. How big and dense these buds become depends on a lot of different variables, including light, nutrients, genetics, substrate, and more. The size of a plant, on the other hand, says little about how many bud sites it will develop, or how big/dense its buds will be come harvest.
LIGHT AND NUTRIENTS
Light is arguably one of the most important factors affecting your yield. To maximise output, you should maximise light exposure to your plant early on by using training techniques to manipulate growth. One popular training technique is low stress training (LST), which involves bending and tying down branches to optimise light exposure and encourage a more horizontal structure. The screen of green (ScrOG) method takes this further, situating a mesh screen over plants, upon which new growth is woven in an effort to boost final yield. There are many more techniques where these came from, including high-stress tek like topping (in which the main growing tip is cut off) and defoliation, to name just a couple.
Nutrients are also really important, and you’ll want to make sure your plants always have access to the macronutrients and micronutrients they need at each stage of growth. When it comes to nutes, your plants require different ratios depending on their phase. During veg, plants require higher levels of nitrogen, whereas flowering plants require more potassium, phosphorus, and micronutrients like calcium and magnesium. In addition to the nutrients themselves, plants need to be able to uptake these nutrients to develop huge hauls of big buds. In order to do so, the pH level has to be dialled in for the type of grow you’re conducting.
Arguably the most crucial factor that determines final yield are genetics. And just like there are some strains that taste better than others, there are also those that produce better harvests than others.
Remember that cannabis strains have been bred to meet the demands of growers and consumers. And with yield being so important, there are countless strains out there that have been purposefully bred to produce numerous bud sites and develop bigger, heavier flowers. Make sure to check out some of our XL strains if you’re looking to really rake in the buds.
There are many different grow media out there, and they all have different effects on the overall yield of your plants.
While soil is easily the most common medium used to grow cannabis, hydroponic media like perlite or coco coir give growers a lot more control over the nutrient intake of their plants. And while that kind of control may be overwhelming for rookie growers, experienced growers can use it to really push their plants to the next level and produce massive yields.
INDOOR VS OUTDOOR
Whether you grow indoors or outdoors will have a big impact on your plants.
Indoor growers generally have less space to work with, which means they’ll usually grow fewer, smaller plants than someone growing outdoors. However, indoor growers also have much more control over their plants’ environment. Hence, they can play around with things like lighting, temperature, and humidity to fine-tune their growing conditions and optimise yield.
Outdoor growers, on the other hand, usually have much more space to work with than indoor growers, meaning they’ll be able to grow more plants in a single season than indoor growers. Plus, outdoor growers also have the benefit of growing under the best possible light source in the world—the sun. However, outdoor growers don’t have the same level of control over their environment, meaning their yield is subject to the season, which, depending on where you live, may be unpredictable.
This is another important factor that affects your overall yield. The more fine-tuned your skills, the more control you have over your plants. And the more control you have over your plants, the better your yield.
HOW TO ESTIMATE YIELD
While yields vary a lot, there are some ways you can get at least a rough estimate of how much weed you’ll produce.
ESTIMATING YIELD BASED ON POT SIZE
Remember that cannabis plants will only grow as large as their pots allow them to. And while size is, as we saw earlier, far from the perfect indicator of how much you’ll harvest, it can help you get a ballpark estimate of what your harvests will look like.
Ideally, you’ll want to grow in at least 18-litre pots. With this amount of soil, some decent nutrients, and some light pruning/training, you should be able to grow large, healthy plants that reach at least 90cm in height. Given they get a full 4–5 weeks of vegetative growth and solid lighting that penetrates right through to the lowest bud sites, plants of this size should be able to produce at least 100g of dry bud per plant.
ESTIMATING YIELD BASED ON LIGHTING
Some growers choose to estimate their yield based on the strength of their lamps. And while this is far from an exact science, it can be a bit more accurate than calculating your yield per plant, especially if you choose to grow multiple smaller plants, rather than just a few larger ones.
If you’re growing indoors and have at least a few harvests under your belt, you can expect to harvest roughly one gram for every watt of light. If you’re a newbie grower with little-to-no experience, expect yields of around 0.5g per watt.
GO HYDRO FOR BIGGER YIELDS
Growing hydroponically gives you a lot more control over how your plants feed. With the right equipment and experience, this can greatly improve the size and quality of your yield. Experienced hydro growers, for example, can encourage yields of up to 1.2g per watt of lighting. By this logic—and using a 600W lamp—a good hydro grower can harvest over 700 grams of bud (genetics depending)!
A NOTE ON DRY VS WET YIELD
Remember, the weight of your buds will drop dramatically after drying and curing. So don’t get too excited when you weigh your buds right after trimming. Instead, multiply your wet yield by 0.25 to get a rough estimate of how much dry bud you’ll end up with.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR CANNABIS YIELD: QUICK TIPS FOR GROWERS
Growing cannabis can be challenging, but there are plenty of things you can do to improve your yield as a novice grower. These include:
• Start with the right genetics. Professionally bred strains will always produce better yields than bagseed.
• Read up on training techniques. Training your plants to grow a certain way maximises their exposure to light, which will ultimately improve your yield.
• Know your nutrients. Use the info on our blog to learn more about how to use nutrients to really maximise your plants’ potential.
• Experiment. Don’t be scared to try new grow techniques and push yourself as a grower.
• Go hydro! Once you’ve got a few harvests under your belt, consider immersing yourself in the world of hydroponics, where you’ll have even more control over your plants and their growth.
• Keep growing! The more experience you have, the better you’ll get. Hence, make sure you grow consistently to hone your skills and become evermore in tune with cannabis.
Cannabis yields vary. A lot. Click here to learn more about the factors affecting your yield, and some simple tips for heavier harvests.
Why Buy at the Dispensary When You Can Grow Cannabis at Home for Cheaper?
With the legal cannabis market, consumers can buy an array of products without considering cultivation, much like buying produce at a grocery store. Grocery stores are supplied by farms that take care of the cultivation and grow a product at a reasonable price.
For the most part, this is also true of cannabis, but let’s take a look at the numbers and see how growing your own stash and buying from a dispensary or adult use store compare.
How Much Does Cannabis Cost at a Store or Dispensary?
The ability to walk into a store and purchase cannabis products is a luxury that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Products like flower, concentrates, edibles, and more range in potency, flavor, and effect, and require expensive machinery and a high level of skill to produce. The diversity of flower and quality genetics is something most consumers couldn’t dream of 20 years ago.
But these products are subject to high taxes and regulations that make packaging and distribution expensive.
Costs Estimates of Store-Bought Cannabis (click to enlarge)
How Much Does It Cost to Grow Your Own Cannabis?
Growing your own cannabis has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Taking cultivation into your own hands gives you complete control of what goes into your cannabis, and it also gives you full knowledge of the growing process and a better understanding and appreciation of the plant.
It also allows you to explore growing techniques, genetics, harvest times, and curing strategies. This all requires time and effort, but it’s satisfying in the long run.
But growing your own cannabis does present some difficulties. Pests, mold, and other diseases can rapidly sabotage a grow and leave you with a bad crop. If you’re completely new to growing, trial and error could lead to some costly mistakes as you learn how to properly raise healthy crops with strong yields.
If you’re curious about the approximate costs of growing your own cannabis, keep in mind that pricing varies between growing indoors and outdoors, as well as the size of your grow.
Growing Cannabis Indoors
For our indoor cannabis grow cost estimates, we estimated costs for a 6′ x 6′ grow space, using soil as the growing medium, and only one room for both vegetative growing and flowering. Also, let’s assume we’re in a temperate climate where the use of A/C won’t be necessary, which will save some energy costs.
Not included in the price estimates is the cannabis plants themselves. For this exercise, we’ll use six clones to save space and reduce our vegetative growth time. A single clone can cost between $10-$30, but higher-quality clones can be more expensive. Our plants will spend around a month in vegetative growth and around 8-10 weeks flowering.
Cost Estimates of Growing Cannabis Indoors
|Built grow space (6′ x 6′)||$250|
|1000-watt light setup (ballast, HPS bulb, hood)||$200-$600|
|Metal halide bulb||$30-$100|
|6″ inline fan||$80-$200|
|Six 10-gallon pots||$20-$40|
|Two 30-gallon water tanks||$50-$100|
|60 gallons of soil||$60|
|Nutrient starter kit||$50-$100|
|Hardware (trellising, zip ties, stakes)||$50|
|3.5 months of electricity to power equipment||$700|
|TOTAL COST RANGE:||$1,575 to $2,320|
With a 1000-watt bulb, ideally, you will produce up to a gram of flower per watt. Realistically, when starting out, you might get anywhere between half a gram and a gram per watt. This assumes you avoid pests and disease, and you feed your plants nutrients to keep them healthy. You should set aside an hour or more every couple days to observe your plants and work in the garden to keep your plants happy.
Small Closet Grow
If a 6′ x 6′ ft space is unrealistic, consider growing in a much smaller space using a grow tent. Grow tent dimensions start at 2′ x 2′ x 5′ for under $1,000, which includes everything you’ll need to grow cannabis except for soil and the plants. You can usually grow two to four plants in 1- to 3-gallon pots, and you’ll most likely use a 400-600 watt light.
Cost Estimates of a Small Closet Cannabis Grow
|2′ x 2′ x 5′ grow kit||$900|
|Four 3-gallon pots||$20|
|20 gallons of soil||$20|
Growing Cannabis Outdoors
Growing cannabis outdoors can be a very simple startup process. The biggest factor to take into account is the climate where you live. It needs to be sunny and dry enough to promote growth and prevent rot, and it needs to stay sunny and warm long enough into the fall to allow the plants to finish flowering. Growing in a greenhouse can help regulate temperature and moisture-related issues.
For this estimate, we are growing in a climate where plants can be outside from the start of the season (July) to the end of the season (October). Again, we assume using clones to start, which aren’t included in our cost estimates.
Cost Estimates of Growing Cannabis Outdoors
|45 gallon smart pots (5 count)||$80-$140|
|Soil (20 gallons, 12 count)||$300-$500|
|Watering tank (250 gallons)||$500|
|Mixing tank (50 gallons)||$100|
|Hardware (trellising, zip ties, stakes hoses, valves)||$400|
|TOTAL COST RANGE:||$1,830-$2,940|
You can get high yields of quality product growing outdoors. A plant grown in a 10-gallon pot should net you between 1-2 lbs of flower. You’ll need to consider the amount of time you will put into your garden—a couple of hours every couple of days on average should be enough to take care of your plants. Some days won’t require any work while others will require a bit.
Other expenses that may have an impact on your grow are equipment having to do with security or controlling odor.
If you already own equipment from growing other types of plants, you can certainly reuse many of these startup materials for growing cannabis. Growing just a plant or two in your yard will cost even less than the prices listed in these table.
Estimated Price Per Gram of Indoor and Outdoor Cannabis Grows
|Yield||Cost||Price Per Gram|
|Indoor 6’x6′ – 500 grams||$1,948||$3.90|
|Indoor 6’x6′ – 1,000 grams||$1,948||$1.95|
|Indoor 2’x2′ – 200 grams||$940||$4.70|
|Indoor 2’x2′ – 400 grams||$940||$2.35|
|Outdoor – 2,000 grams||$2,385||$1.19|
|Outdoor – 4,000 grams||$2,385||$0.60|
Looking at these totals, you’ll find that growing can be done for a much lower price than purchasing your product at the store. However, labor and property aren’t included in these costs. Someone will have to check in on the garden daily and spend time pruning, trimming, feeding, watering, and monitoring the plants for signs of disease, rot, or mold. Growing cannabis is labor-intensive and can be difficult, but if you’re looking for a new hobby and have the time to dedicate to it, you will save money and enjoy yourself.
Labor Costs and Their Impact on Price Per Gram
When including estimated labor costs of $20 per day for the growing period, the prices change significantly. (We adjusted the labor time needed for the 2′ x 2′ space at $10 per day because the size of the space is much more manageable.)
- Indoor 6′ x 6′ space: $140 per week x 14 weeks = $1,960
- Indoor 2′ x 2′ space: $70 per week x 14 weeks = $980
- Outdoor space: $140 per week x 20 weeks = $2,800
Estimated Price Per Gram of Home Grows Including Labor
|Yield||Cost (Including Labor)||Price Per Gram|
|Indoor – 500 grams||$3,908||$7.82|
|Indoor – 1,000 grams||$3,908||$3.91|
|Indoor 2’x2′ – 200 grams||$1,920||$9.60|
|Outdoor – 2,000 grams||$5,185||$2.59|
|Outdoor – 4,000 grams||$5,185||$1.30|
Reflecting on the costs between purchasing cannabis and growing your own in addition to the benefits that each method has to offer might have you clearly leaning to one side or stuck in a stalemate. Cannabis is not cheap or easy to grow, and chances are you will get higher quality, more diverse products at the local shop.
However, if you want to explore producing your own crop and if it feels less like labor and more like a hobby, then perhaps a personal garden is the way to go.
Cannabis legalization allows consumers to buy various products at dispensaries without having to cultivate plants, but does it cost less to grow your own?