Indoor growing has changed the face of marijuana cultivation. It is now possible to grow weed at any time of the year in an indoor setup because you can use lights to mimic the effect of the sun and provide ample nutrients to help your crop grow. Thanks to auto flowering strains, you can even enjoy the fruits of several bountiful harvests each year.
However, cannabis has been grown naturally outdoors for thousands of years. Although outdoor grown weed isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as its indoor counterpart, and you can only grow it once a year, it is a less expensive method (if you have land), and your plants benefit from the full spectrum of the sun’s light; a form of light that is tough to replicate with a typical indoor lighting setup.
Outdoor marijuana has an annual growth cycle. Your plants should begin flowering in late summer and be ready for harvest in the fall, usually between late September and late October depending on the strain. As it happens, marijuana cultivation is a four-season endeavor. You germinate the seeds and plant seedlings in spring, watch as your plants flourish in the summer, harvest in the fall, and trim, cure, and dry the buds in winter.
In locations where outdoor growing is prevalent, there is normally a surplus of fresh flowers in the weeks after an annual harvest. This is typically the best time to purchase weed, because supply outstrips demand. Eventually, sales slow down, but by the end of winter and in early spring, consumers want more marijuana, and demand exceeds supply by the middle of the year. Obviously, prices rise to reflect the relative scarcity of cannabis.
In this article, we’re going to look at the cannabis growing season, whether different strains have different seasons, common cultivation techniques, the changing availability of weed, and we conclude by providing tips on when to find the best cannabis during a given season.
Cannabis’ Growing Season – It is Different Around the World
In the introduction, we said that harvest time occurs in September or October. While that is the case in the Northern Hemisphere, it is important to remember that the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere. Therefore, while American growers are planting seeds in March, Australian cultivators are getting ready to harvest at the same time. If you happen to live near the equator, you could benefit from a year-round cannabis harvest.
As you know, you can force your plants into the flowering stage by exposing them to 12 hours of continuous darkness per day for a couple of weeks indoors. Outdoor growers don’t have that luxury and rely on their area’s natural climate to help push their weed into flowering.
Once again, your location dictates when this happens. In Colorado, for example, a marijuana strain that enters the flowering stage at the beginning of July won’t flower for at least another month in Amsterdam. If you live in Hawaii, your strain could flower at any time.
The other thing about location is that different regions have different environmental conditions. Marijuana’s growth is influenced by factors such as rainfall, temperature, and altitude. If you live in an area with a mild climate, your plants will probably mature faster than if you live somewhere that is excessively hot or cold.
Not All Marijuana Strains Mature at the Same Time
If you plant 10 different marijuana strains at the same time and expect them to flower and be ready for harvest together, you’re going to be disappointed. The genetics of the strain you choose play a major role in when they ripen, because each strain has adapted to its natural habitat over hundreds, or even thousands, of years.
Strains with predominantly indica genetics will flower faster and grow shorter than sativas. Overall, sativas from regions near the equator have the longest flowering time of all. In fact, if you try to grow one of these strains too far north or south, they will die long before harvest time. Meanwhile, if you take a strain out of its natural coastal region and grow it in a warmer midlands area, it will probably flower faster.
In the modern era, breeders have found various means of growing weed faster than ever before. Even so, first-time growers should be aware of strains such as Colombian Gold, Dr. Grinspoon, San Francisco Valley OG, and Chocolate Thai, which are notoriously difficult to grow. Chocolate Thai, for example, is a southeast Asian landrace strain which takes up to 14 weeks to flower!
The difference between indica and sativa harvest times is illustrated by DJ Short, the man responsible for creating the famous indica strain, Blueberry. He harvests his famous strain in October but says he waits for another month or two to harvest specific sativa strains.
How Much of an Impact Do Cultivation Techniques Have on the Growth of Marijuana?
The art of marijuana cultivation has evolved quickly in the last few years. Just 25 years ago, there wasn’t a single U.S. state that had legalized medical marijuana. Fast forward to today, and there are 33 states (plus D.C.) that have legalized the herb for medical use. The growing acceptance (and legality) of weed means the industry has grown rapidly. With greater demand came a need to improve cultivation techniques.
These techniques impact the timing of the marijuana growing season. Those who still grow cannabis illegally grow their crop as late as possible in the knowledge that they will end up with smaller plants that are easier to hide.
Then there is the small matter of state-by-state legislation. In California, for example, you are allowed to grow a maximum of six plants, unless you have a commercial license. As a result, residential growers in the Golden State need to find ways to boost the yield of individual plants. Growing weed early in the season allows for additional growth, fatter buds, and more end product.
One of the hardest parts of growing marijuana for newbies is ascertaining the right moment to harvest. If you harvest early, the bud should provide a lighter head high, but the weed will be less potent, and the yield will be smaller. If you harvest too late, some of the plant’s THC may have degraded into CBN. As a consequence, you receive a heavier body high, and some users report feeling nauseous. Obviously, the longer you wait, the more likely it is that pests and disease will afflict your crop.
There are two methods of determining when to harvest your marijuana. The trichome method involves using a magnifying glass to see if the trichomes on the plants have turned a milky white color. With the pistil method, you are checking to see the percentage of plant hairs that have transformed from white to a reddish-brown color. For most growers, 70-80% is the ‘ideal’ percentage.
The notion of ‘ripeness’ also seems to vary around the world. If you have ever used weed in Amsterdam, you’ll probably have experienced an unusual high. This is because Dutch growers harvest their marijuana earlier than their North American counterparts.
The larger your cannabis garden, the earlier you need to harvest. If you are growing one strain, all of the plants will become mature at approximately the same time. In extremely large gardens, it could take up to a week to harvest every plant. If you harvest ‘on time,’ the final plants you collect could already be too ripe.
How Harvesting, Drying and Curing Dictates Availability
Even when you have harvested your crop, there is still a lot of work to do. Some growers like to trim the leaves from the plants while they are still wet. Others like to wait until the plants are dry before getting rid of leaves. You can dry your weed by hanging it upside down in a climate-controlled room. If you dry the flowers too quickly, the result is a bitter flavor. If you dry too slowly, you risk mold growth, and the bud won’t burn properly.
Did you know that the entire harvesting, trimming, drying, and curing process should take at least six weeks? This is what happens when a seller is providing consumers with premium-grade marijuana. Alas, too many commercial and residential growers are impatient and try to consume or sell the product within 10 days of harvest.
The drying and curing process plays a vital role in the aroma, taste, and potency of weed. Keeping a bud’s terpene and cannabinoid content high is a tricky business. You’ll know that you have purchased high-quality bud if it provides a smooth smoke, and a satisfying high. Therefore, if your locality’s harvest season is mid-October, you should wait for marijuana that becomes available for sale in December and January.
As a Consumer, Should I Care About Cannabis’ Seasons?
Yes and no. It really depends on whether you are consuming weed that has been grown outdoors or indoors. If it is the former, then yes, you should absolutely care about the seasons when you purchase marijuana. As the best bud takes time to dry and cure, it isn’t always a good idea to buy weed directly after harvest.
However, commercial growers that operate on a smaller scale could spend months trimming their weed. It is also a fact that marijuana remains fresh for up to 12 months when stored in black UV glass jars in a cool and dry space. As a result, you could be smoking weed that was stored for eight months and not even know it.
The prohibition of marijuana caused growers to become more innovative. It was prohibition that helped growers create methods of cultivating weed indoors. Today, indoor growing techniques are incredibly sophisticated. Not only is it possible to grow potent cannabis in a basic grow room, but you can also grow several batches per year. And those who use greenhouses benefit from the power of the sun while protecting their plants from cold and wet weather.
If you have a large enough indoor area, you can stagger growth using a hydroponic system and provide a fresh harvest every few weeks! As you can guess, it allows commercial growers to sell fresh Mary Jane virtually every day of the year! Assuming you live in a state where weed is legal, your dispensary should never run out.
There was once a time when the best cannabis was only available a few weeks after harvest when it had been meticulously dried and cured. Today, innovations such as hydroponics allow growers to develop potent and gorgeous weed 12 months of the year. Even so, marijuana connoisseurs will tell you that nothing beats the cannabis that is grown outdoors in the summer and harvested in fall, dried and cured over an eight week period.