Proper cannabis cultivation is about more than simply planting seeds and adhering to a strict procedure; superior cannabis growth takes a great deal of time, dedication, and expertise in the craft. However, this doesn’t mean that the uninitiated cannot learn the basics of cannabis cultivation and develop a thriving business in the process.
While expertise in cultivation practice is something that can only be acquired with time, there are certain principles and best practices that every grower should be aware of. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the do’s and don’ts of quality cannabis cultivation. But first, let’s breakdown what “cannabis cultivation” means and how the term is applied legally.
What is Cannabis Cultivation?
In short, cannabis cultivation encompasses the procedure and techniques used for growing cannabis plants. However, techniques can differ, even among the experts, so it is difficult to pin down one tried and true method. Additionally, different strains of cannabis sometimes require varied approaches.
Whether someone is setting up a commercial enterprise or simply wants to develop a home grow station, there are two basic methods for growing the cannabis plant: outdoors and indoors (with or without soil). First, let’s take a look at the outdoor method.
Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation
There are several different factors you will need to consider when dealing with cannabis growth out in the elements. First and foremost, you will need to consider the climate in your region. Thankfully, compared to many plants, cannabis is fairly resistant to changes in weather, however it is not without limitations.
In general, temperatures should not regularly exceed 30°C or fall below 13°C for cannabis plants to grow. Extreme weather conditions like rain, wind, or hail can also cause damage to the plants, and excessive rain can even cause mildew. Needless to say, it will also be vital that your plants receive sunlight throughout the day.
Once you have taken weather conditions into consideration, you will need to consider the kind of soil to use. Whether you plan to grow your cannabis in the ground or in containers, you will want to make sure that the soil conditions are optimal. You might be lucky enough to have fertile land at your disposal (with soil pH levels between 6.0-7.0), but if not, you might need to create your own soil recipe.
Choosing the right kind of soil will also depend on the specific strain that you use. Photoperiod cannabis generally needs soil that has been developed over several seasons by using the cuttings from an individual strain. Autoflowering cannabis, on the other hand, does not require nearly as many nutrients, and is therefore best grown in a light or unfertilized soil. In either case, you don’t necessarily need to develop your own soil recipe to produce top-quality cannabis. Store-bought soil generally has the right amount of nutrients for your plants, and you can always make adjustments as needed.
If you’re planting your cannabis in the ground, you will also have to decide whether or not to till the soil. Generally, when soil is left undisturbed between seasons, it helps preserve beneficial microbes and allows water to easily infiltrate the soil. So, if you’re concerned about your plants getting enough water and nutrients, this might be the best method for your cannabis cultivation.
Finally, you will need to protect your cannabis plants from destructive pests like slugs, caterpillars, and grasshoppers, just to name a few. Pesticides are a common option, though many growers opt for more natural repellants. If you do choose to use pesticides, it is important to select one from the PMRA approved list. In any case, you will need to ensure that your crops are protected, as insects, pests, and even some animals can wreak havoc on outdoor crops.
Obviously, there are a lot of things to consider when cultivating cannabis outdoors. While indoor cultivation avoids some of the pitfalls (weather, pests, etc.) of growing cannabis outdoors, there are also specific requirements that growers will need to consider. Let’s take a look at indoor cannabis cultivation to see how the two methods differ.
Indoor Cannabis Cultivation
Many growers prefer to cultivate their cannabis plants indoors because it gives them complete control over lighting, temperature, and humidity. It also makes it much harder for pests to cause any damage, and (thanks to 24 hour lighting) helps plants grow at a much faster rate. However, developing an indoor grow house is significantly more expensive than growing cannabis outdoors. Though costs are much higher, they will vary depending on whether you choose to plant in soil or grow your cannabis using hydroponics or aeroponics.
Cultivating Indoors with Soil
Growing cannabis indoors with soil requires much the same care and attention as growing outdoors. You will need to use fertilizer with the proper mix of nutrients for the specific strain you intend to grow. Additionally, you will need to make sure that the plants have ample artificial light (with a timer for photoperiod cannabis), adequate levels of CO2, proper ventilation and air circulation, and comfortable temperatures (between 20-25°C).
Hydroponics is a method of plant growth that does not require soil, instead using nutrient solutions in a water solvent. There are various techniques for setting up a hydroponics grow house. In some cases, the plants are put in static containers along with the nutrient solution; in others, a continuous flow of nutrients passes through the roots. Either way, this method generally leads to higher productivity, as the plants have constant access to the nutrients they require.
Similar to hydroponics, aeroponics involves supplying plants with a consistent supply of nutrients without the need for soil. However, aeroponic cultivation requires the plants to be suspended, with their roots hanging downward. Then, their roots are supplied with nutrients via mist or aerosol. The primary advantage of aeroponics is superior aeration for the plants.
The Legal Requirements
A basic understanding of cannabis cultivation also requires an understanding of the legal requirements. In Canada, those who wish to cultivate cannabis will need to obtain one of three cultivation licenses: the Standard Cultivation License, the Micro-Cultivation License, or the Nursery License.
These licenses differ in important ways, and you will need to evaluate the size and scope of your business to know which one is right for you. Generally, the Micro-Cultivation License allows individuals and businesses to grow cannabis through various means and settings, as long as the size of the canopy is less than 200 square meters. If your canopy exceeds 200 square meters, you will need to obtain the Standard Cultivation License. The Standard License is a great fit for many businesses, as it allows for your operation to grow without the need to acquire a different license.
Finally, the Nursery License is best for businesses that wish to supply or sell cannabis starting materials like seeds and clones. Therefore, any individual or business that wishes to develop, sell, or supply seeds, seedlings, or clones will want to obtain a Nursery License in Canada.
Tips from the Experts
Krisztian Panczel, Greendorphin
Your choice of cultivar (also referred to as strain) is crucial to your growing success. Regardless if you grow indoor or outdoor, you have to give thorough consideration to the cultivars you are growing. Some strains are more suitable for outdoor cultivation as they are taller, take longer to flower and so on. On the other hand, some strains are perfect for indoor growing, shorter in size and have genetically adapted to indoor growing conditions.
When sourcing seeds or clones, always inquire if your seeds or cuttings are best for indoor or outdoor growing and choose accordingly.
Obtaining a Cultivation License
Thanks to the new legislation, it is now possible to cultivate cannabis in Canada. However, many are still not familiar with the specifics of the law, and will need assistance navigating the regulations. If you plan to cultivate cannabis in the future, you will want to be prepared for the legal process. For more information on obtaining a cannabis cultivation license in Canada, consult the Cannabis License Experts today!