We get to take a final look at our tent before we have finished this cycle, and begin anew. Our plants are nearing the end of their flowering cycle and we want to prepare them for harvest with our last weeks utilizing a flush. We will then hit the plants with 48 hours of darkness before we harvest and the reasons why have been studied. Our next germination cycle has been a success as well. I will be moving the grow outdoors for a full 12 plant flowering cycle for our next endeavor. We will cover the challenges of the environment like the Arizona desert and its unique climate as well as weather like habboobs or monsoons. The other challenge will be the sun itself which still has its dangers even if it’s not hot, all light does. Finally we will talk to our growmie, True to the Movement, about his preparation for growing outdoor cannabis!
My old friend once was reading an article from High Times aloud to us that spoke about a 48 hour dark phase before harvest to increase trichomes and overall THC content. At the time of print, it was more hearsay and anecdotal from growers at the time. I didn;t know enough but I remember that story staying with me until much later in my life. As legalization happens across the country and restrictions are lifted, the ability to research has confirmed these early ‘myths’ to be true. It was observed in several studies (or an easily accessed video on youtube from user, Lost Leaf) that showed an average increase of 1% occured in overall THC, THC-a, and terpene content of cannabis given a 48 hour dark period before harvest. The reaction to the darkness is a stress response from the plant to prepare for the worst. Trichomes are produced to protect the plant from UV damage, humidity, pests, and other environmental factors. The sudden absence of light shocks the plant into producing more trichomes to prepare for what is anticipated as a sudden change in the environment’s conditions.
A supplement that adds silica is encouraged towards the end of your growth and during this 48 hours of darkness, the primary element used to produce trichomes is silica. Having it in your medium and readily available for your plants will make a difference. I’ve been using Fasiliatator from Aptus because it has a high amount of bioavailable silica, with a rapid amount of uptake..The result from a dark period and the addition of silica creates the potential for a more potent end product. The added trichomes which contain the THC, cannabinols, and terpenes we value. The results of your finished buds will depend on how comfortable you are implementing these techniques. Be sure to research and discuss with others who might have experience. You can do this on the Cannabis Cactus App on our open forum. We will explore these techniques with our tent before harvest, as well as trying to harvest in dark conditions in the morning time as recommended. We will be watching our humidity and temperatures as we go into drying and curing this run. The inside conditions should be watched carefully when outside conditions are in flux; 2021 had one of the heaviest monsoon seasons in Arizona history.
Hot and Humid
The end of summer has brought many to prepare for the Fall season, but this past summer had something unique. An abundance of rainfall that was not anticipated, and threw plenty of grows, both indoor and out, off kilter. The addition of a dehumidifier might have been needed for many indoor tents but for many outdoor grows, what could be done? Controlling the humidity indoors is crucial to prevent mold or rot in your plants. Ideal conditions are about 70% for veg phases with early flowers seeing a decrease to around 65% then down to 40% by harvest. The conditions indoors which can be easily changed with the addition of a humidifier or dehumidifier and some fans, cannot however, be easily replicated for outdoors. We are in a climate with an average humidity of less than 10%, and the desert has challenges like monsoons that can suddenly drive humidity above 90%. The question is what can you do to prepare for these challenges in the future.
There are many opinions on how to best prepare for rain, but the most consistent I’ve heard might be to utilize a raised garden bed made of fabric, like what SmartPot offers. This will control the drainage and aeration of your root zones which might be flooded in heavy rains. It can also aid in bringing oxygen to the root zones that are choking in 90% or higher humidity from the moisture in the soil left from rainfall being converted to vapor as the soil dries. The beds also have an advantage when it comes to controlling the temperatures reached in the soil, as well as helping to provide ambient humidity in an otherwise dry climate. If one would like to plant in the ground, then preparing the soil will be crucial as well as upkeep. Techniques that top dress plants with fresh medium like soil or mulch helps with the overall lack of humidity.
Preparing the grow site is always recommended, and can include the use of soil amendment techniques like adding micro-nutrient pellets, teas, or beneficial kelp. I would nominate Agromar Seaweed Solutions NPKelp and KelpRoot for this job. I observed the difference between untreated and treated soil in the harshest desert conditions to improve moisture retention. The treatment of soil with the NPKelp and KelpRoot helps to improve the overall uptake of water, nutrients, and light at the root zone for the plants. Those who use silica supplements can also strengthen their plants and increase their tolerance against environmental challenges. The challenges of outdoor cultivation can be managed, and thinking about how the outdoor conditions can also affect the growth of indoor plants, like after a storm when the humidity in your tent might spike! The precautions you take might have huge implications, and preparing for the humidity made me think about the sun.
In The Light
The use of grow lights is an attempt to bring the power of the sun indoors. That power outside is often warned about protecting yourself from UV or infrared radiation. The same light spectrum that we use to measure the sun is often the basis for the design of many lights, and utilize the red or blue light spectrums. Without understanding the UV or infrared spectrum, it’s easy to not protect yourself when in reality, it’s critical. Starting with infrared(IR) light and how the infrared spectrum is utilized in our grow lights.
IR wavelengths range from 700 nanometers to 1 micrometer, with the longest wavelength producing the most heat. Infrared light is beneficial to plant stems, flowers and fruit but too much can cause excessive heat which can cause damage to your plants. People are susceptible to the dangers of IR light not being able to detect it, with prolonged exposure being harmful to the eyes or skin.
Infrared is comprised of three ranges:
Near – These wavelengths are and close to being visible and produce very little heat
Mid – The wavelengths are slightly warmer and can be seen with specialized equipment
Far – These wavelengths are most popular for indoor lights, but are considered long and produce high amounts of heat.
Let’s look at the three major types of UV radiation and how lights replicate those UV rays.
UVA – Wavelength range is 400nm-315nm – A scarce beneficial light to plants and humans. UVB stimulates cell growth in plants as well as the development of THC and CBD. In humans, it helps produce vitamin D but is dangerous to the eyes passing the corneas causing cataracts and macular degeneration. This wavelength does not harm DNA in plants or humans.
UVB – Wavelength range is 315nm-280nm – This light is the more abundant, as well as beneficial in plants while being dangerous to humans. In plants it aids in the development of oils, terpenes, and protection against biotic factors. UVB is dangerous to human DNA while also being dangerous to the eyes causing growths on the eye’s surface or inflammation of the corneas causing blindness.
UVC – Wavelength range is 280nm-100nm – This is the most abundant wavelength in natural light from the sun, but our atmosphere filters most UVC light. Exposure to this UV by plants or humans should be avoided at all costs as it is the most destructive to DNA. This wavelength is not beneficial to plant growth, and is not replicated in grow lights including HPS, MH, and LED.
The radiation from UV rays or the Infrared spectrum should be guarded against with simple precautions. Wear eye protection, and utilize clothing that covers your body. As you prepare your plants and work, indoors or outdoors, adequate protection against the sun or grow lights is advised! We will look into flowering using outdoor cultivation in our next cycle which we have 11 clones and our #aceofspades Mother plant ready for outdoor flowering. I will also go over my new round of germination which will be all organic with no salt based products being used.
True to the Movement
We take a moment to talk to another OG of the outdoor grow, an Arizona native, and friend, Jahquice AKA #TruetotheMovement. Can you tell us about yourself?
I am a 34 year old Arizona native. Born and raised in South Phoenix AZ. I am a surviving cancer patient and battle multiple medical issues which led to my journey with cannabis. My journey started a little over 13 years ago while on 7-day leave from USMC I tried cannabis for the first time. It was nice, however, I could not dive-in like I had wanted for a few years. Once I got out of the corps, I went full force. PTSD, and other wounds unfortunately led to a battle with alcoholism, so when that got bad I needed something to help me cope so my therapist suggested cannabis. From that day on, I’ve been a heavy everyday user. Which led to my curiosity with cultivation. I just so happened to live on a nice plot of land with a wall barrier about 6.5 feet tall. I decided I’d take some bag seed and toss’ em in the yard to see what would happen. Well, Magic happened!
True to the Movement, can you give our readers who might be interested in starting outdoor cultivation your best advice on how to prepare?
Start with conditioning the earth and preparing it for the seeds. The journey, and learning continues to this day. I have grown and harvested my first indoor grow and am now on a perpetual cycle (meaning, I always have plants in every stage of life.)
The best tips I can give for outdoor growing are:
Learn organic gardening, it is important to know what you are feeding your plants.
Learn your pests, and predator bugs. (Integrated pest management is important)
Be patient with yourself, no one becomes great overnight.
Do not overthink the process, sometimes doing less is a lot better than doing too much and ruining your crop.
Study, study, study. You can never know too much, there is always something new or important to learn.
No grower has all the tips and tricks to a perfect harvest. We all grow in ways that work best for us. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. Always remember, love your plants and they will love you back. Good vibes go a very long way in the garden.
You can keep up with his amazing garden, and talk more with Jahquice by giving him a follow @truetothemovement on IG. You can access the entire Class 207 series at cannabiscactus.com or download the app, where you can also join the cultivation forum, enter giveaways, and get access to other great content!
See the whole cultivation series to keep reading and learning.
Adrian Ryan was born in New Mexico and attended school since elementary in Arizona, his time growing up split between the two states. He hopes to work towards recreational cannabis, enjoys reading, writing, film, music, and also writing music.