Monday, May 29, 2017

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How to Grow Autoflower Marijuana Plants

There are many types of seed used to grow cannabis. Some create male plants, some female, some hermaphrodite, and each has its role in the breeding process.

And then there are autoflowering marijuana plants. But what are they, how are they grown, and what exactly is the point?

Autoflowering strains are designed to grow indoors during seasons when a normal outdoor garden can’t produce a quality harvest. When marijuana is cultivated outdoors, its growth depends on the quality and quantity of daylight. Plants do better in the tropics because sunlight there is intense and consistent year-round.

Autoflower cannabis

In cooler zones, outdoor farmers are constrained to summer; by autumn there is no longer enough light in the day. This is what makes indoor autoflower grows so popular in the United States and other northern climes.

Instead of blooming mid-summer, when outdoor sunlight is ideal, autoflowering plants bloom automatically, usually two to four weeks after sprouting. This allows greater control over the cultivation process and makes it possible to grow more weed.

But how to grow autoflowering seeds? Here’s a brief explainer.

First, here’s what you’ll need: “feminized” autoflowering seeds; a germinating kit; a bucket or pail that holds 5-15 gallons (with holes in the bottom); enough cannabis-friendly soil to fill your bucket to 3/4; and lights adequate for a standard indoor grow.

How to grow autoflower marijuana plants

Once you have your supplies, follow these steps to cultivate your seeds:

1. Germinate your autoflowering seeds using a germination kit. This is an easy process that requires only a cheap plastic kit and rockwool cubes. Germinate until a sprout starts to grow.

2. Put soil in the bucket until it’s 75 percent full. Even more soil is better, up to about 95 percent full. Of course, your choice of bucket will determine how much pot you’ll be able to grow.

3. “Flush” the soil by pouring a large amount of water onto it. This ensures the soil is damp throughout. Dry spots could block the growth of healthy roots.

4. Dig a shallow hole in the middle of the bucket, deep enough to cover the seed and its sprout, and then carefully place the seed in the hole and cover it with soil. Make sure the head of the sprout pokes up from under the dirt.

5. Next, set up your lights. Place them above the plants, leaving 6 to 10 inches between the hot bulbs and the plant tops. Raise the lights as the cannabis plant grows taller.

6. Follow a set lighting schedule during your autoflower grow. This is usually 18 straight hours of light each day and six hours of darkness, or 12 hours of each.

7. Follow recommended steps for a standard marijuana grow. Water the soil as needed (check every day and add water if the soil feels dry). Keep the light consistent throughout the entire cultivation period.

8. The final step in producing an autoflowering strain is to harvest the resulting bud after flowering is complete. Once bud start to blossom, you’ll have another 10 to 14 weeks before it’s ready to pick and process. You’ll know the time has come when you see a fine layer of white crystals on the bud.

And that’s how you grow an autoflowering marijuana plant. It’s no harder than growing any other type of cannabis seed, and it could leave you with an even better supply of dope. Give it a try!

Let us know: Have you ever grown a pot plant? What about an autoflowering plant? How did it go? Leave a comment.

October is peak season for marijuana growers’ expos, and there’s a big one coming to Colorado at the end of the month.

CannaGrow ExpoThe CannaGrow Expo, hosted in Denver from Oct. 29-30, is a gathering for cannabis cultivators who want to learn about the “art and science of growing,” organizers say. The two-day educational event will provide professional insight into the growing business and the agricultural techniques behind it.

The Expo is open to all adults 18 and older, but it’s targeted toward cultivators, grow managers, pot shop owners, and cannabis enthusiasts who want to learn how to grow and harvest the plant. Topics include cultivation technology, tools, and techniques, organizers say on their website.

CannaGrow Expo 2015
Images from the CannaGrow Expo 2015

The event will feature 25 classes focused on cultivation, each taught by “world-class growers.” Networking and an open expo hall with vendor displays will also be included.

Educational sessions will include a lecture on “Cultivation 101,” a beginner’s class offered once each day of the expo. The 85 vendors sponsoring the event include major cannabis-themed companies such as Leafly, as well as dozens of cultivation companies, pot shops, marijuana processors, and laboratories.

“If you care about cultivating world-class cannabis, you need to be at the CannaGrow Expo,” the website says.

Sadly, however, no toking will be allowed at the CannaGrow Expo. Marijuana is legal in Denver, as it is in the rest of Colorado, but the expo is not licensed for pot consumption, and the venue also wouldn’t allow it.

CannaGrow Expo 2015
Photos from the 2015 event

But that means adults between the ages of 18 and 21 are welcome to attend, with or without a medical marijuana card. The event is open to the public, but organizers stress that it’s a professional gathering designed to spread information about effective grow methods.

Organizers have reserved a block of rooms for visitors at the Crowne Plaza Denver Airport Hotel & Convention Center, at a discounted rate of $129 per night. The hotel is also the site of the expo and is located 10 minutes from Denver International Airport. It’s 20 minutes from downtown Denver.

Costs for attending the CannaGrow Expo itself vary. A full two-day pass runs $499 per person, while a single-day pass (either Saturday, Oct. 29 or Sunday, Oct. 30) costs $229 per adult. Interested growers may also purchase the full set of slides and other educational materials presented at the expo for $1,195. That cost does not cover attendance at the event itself.

Cannabis Cultuvation Expo
If you live in Colorado, head down to the CannaGrow Expo 2015 to learn about all the latest tips and techniques in the world of cannabis cutivation.

Check-in starts 9 a.m. Saturday in the lobby of the hotel. Two 50-minute lectures are scheduled between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., with three choices offered during each session. Lunch runs from noon to 1 p.m., followed by three classes at 1 p.m., two classes at 2 p.m., and an ice cream break at 3 p.m. Saturday’s events will finish with a networking round table and a cocktail hour starting at 5 p.m.

Sunday’s events starts at 9 a.m. with registration and coffee. Classes begin at 10 a.m., following the same schedule as Saturday until 3 p.m., followed by a tea hour and two final panel discussions. The expo closes at 5 p.m.

Leave a comment: Have you ever attended a marijuana cultivation convention? Did it help you grow pot?

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Anyone who has tried to grow pot plants at home is familiar with the many problems that can arise between seed and harvest. But one of the most important is stress, especially for cultivation using high-powered indoor grow lights.

These stresses can wilt leaves, limit potency, and stunt plant growth. The end product simply isn’t as good when a plant is stressed throughout the grow cycle.

There are multiple methods of reducing stress in a marijuana plant, but so-called “Low Stress Training” (LST) is one of the most effective. Used properly, low stress training can boost yields and improve the health of any garden.

LST works by creating an ideal lighting setup above each cannabis plant. Unhealthy stress most often results from improper lighting, which can expose plants to too much or too little heat than they need to produce good weed.

Optimizing your setup for light exposure

A traditional marijuana grow site would use an intense light source suspended above the plants. This is usually done with High Pressure Sodium (HSP) bulbs or LED cultivation lights. Light is centered directly above the center of the plant, meaning the top branches get the most light while the bottom branches get the least.

This can be a problem, since an ideal grow will encourage bud development on all parts of a plant. With too little light, the bottom can’t grow well, and with too much, the top is likely to wilt or even burn.

Low Stress Training

LST, by contrast, works by pulling the stalk of the plant down toward the ground. This puts most of the plant in a lateral position, parallel to the ground, so that the lowest branches are exposed to ample light. At the same time, the more evenly distributed light decreases stress throughout the plant and improves yields at harvest time.

Optional: Top the plant first

Here are the basics. First, top the plant; this is optional with LST, but if done should be done first. Topping involves trimming the apex nodes at the top of the stalk, a process that allows the plant to grow more nodes, which in turn produces more bud.

Low Stress Training

Topping should take place about a month after the start of the vegetative phase and should be repeated as needed until flowering. But caution is advised: Excessive topping can itself cause stress. It’s rarely a good idea to top more than three times.

Tie the stalks downwards

After topping, pull the plant downward and tie it down. Use string, wires, retractable lanyards, pipe cleaners, or any other items that effectively keep the stalk level with the ground or floor. First pull the branches back, then down, and lastly pull them outward so the lowest branches receive direct light.

LST should never be rushed. Plants should be bent and manipulated gently and tied down loosely. This can be done with two strings, each wrapped in padding and tied to one end of a cut rubber band. Attach the other end of the rubber band to the ground and hook the string around the stalk to pull it down. Increase tension as the plant grows. Do this at several points along the stalk.

The idea behind LST is to get as much light as possible to each part of the plant so it can produce more healthy marijuana flower. It also encourages the growth of new branches, which get more light and in turn generate more bud.

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Have you considered implementing a hydroponics system for growing marijuana? Such systems can be very effective for growing high-quality plants and ensuring bountiful harvests. Even if you have always achieved spectacular results by growing your marijuana plants in soil, there are many reasons why it might be in your best interests to adopt a hydroponics system.

hydroponics systemsHydroponics essentially involves growing plants without soil. The system typically involves the use of interconnected pipes or tubing, in which the plants are placed, with the roots of the plants immersed in a flowing solution in which the require nutrients are passed through. These systems are especially useful in cold climates, where growing plants in soil is impractical and/or impossible.

Among the benefits of hydroponics systems are:

  • Better control over the nutrients
  • Freedom from climate and location-based restrictions
  • More effective pest control
  • Lower cost due to a self-sustaining system
  • Higher yields
  • Better overall quality of your plants

Because your plants are placed in a carefully monitored system, you have much more control over nutrient intake. With soil-based systems, there is always a risk of under-nourishing or over-nourishing your plants, both of which can be detrimental to the yield and quality of your harvest. With hydroponics systems, you will be better able to identify nutrient deficiencies or over-nourishment, and therefore make the appropriate changes as necessary.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to opt for a hydroponics system is to be able to cultivate plants whenever and wherever you wish. Hydroponics systems can be installed indoors in a temperature-controlled environment, which means that you can grow marijuana all year ’round.

More effective pest control

Hydroponics systems give you much more control over pests. Because such systems are typically installed indoors, you automatically avoid the majority of pests that typically plague soil-based systems. Any instances of pest infestations are also more easily detected, allowing you to take action quickly before too much damage can be done to your plants.

Lower cost due to a self-sustaining system

Hydroponics systems can be set up to be entirely self-sustaining, which will go a long way in reducing your operational costs. Some growers have even set up their system with fish tanks that produce the necessary nutrients for the plants, with the discarded plant material then being brewed into a ‘tea’ that serves as fish food. With such a system, you can reduce operational costs considerably.

Higher yields

Better control over the nutrients and environmental factors help ensure higher overall yields. When you add to that the possibility of growing plants all year ’round, you can realize much higher yields in general. Lower incidences of pest infestations will also help you get more product per harvest.

Better overall quality of your plants

Finally, hydroponics systems help ensure the much higher quality of your product. Because you can more closely monitor the nutrition and growing environment, you can grow plants that are hardier, and much more potent and more flavorful than that which you could get from a soil-based system.

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Growing weed is as much an art as it is a science, and no method better typifies this concept than hydroponics. Although there is something to be said about growing marijuana in soil and outdoors – a method that has undoubtedly resulted in some prime bud – growing via a hydroponic system has a number of notable advantages of its own.

hydroponic marijuana grow

The Basic Concept of Hydroponics

One of the most notable characteristics of hydroponic cultivation is the use of an inert medium instead of soil. The system also relies on the introduction of nutrients that help encourage growth and increase yield, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. In many systems, nutrients such as calcium, chlorine, copper, manganese, zinc, boron, and iron are also introduced into the mix.

Necessary Materials and Procedure

In terms of materials and methods, hydroponic systems vary considerably depending on the goals of the grower and the space available. PVC pipes are commonly used to transport fluids and nutrients to the roots of the plants, which are usually suspended through holes in the pipes.

Lighting Systems

Most hydroponic systems also utilize artificial lighting for better control and more consistent illumination. This is especially useful during the vegetative stage of plant growth, when the goal is to increase foliage as much as possible. This will help increase yield when it comes time to harvest the plant, and will also ensure that the plant grows strong enough to support the heavy buds when the time comes to flower them.

In order to get the best results from the lighting system, it is important to ensure that no light enters the grow room from the outside. This isn’t as much of an issue during the vegetative phase of growth as it is during the flowering stage, when light leaks may confuse the plant. In extreme cases, light leaks may cause the plant to revert back into the vegetative stage when it should be flowering. It may also result in hermaphrodite plants that have much less potency and lower yields than female plants.

Hydroponics equipment and SuppliesVentilation Concerns

Ventilation is an important concern in any growing system, but it is especially crucial in a hydroponic system. For optimal growth and the health of your plants, you should make sure that carbon dioxide and humidity levels are kept at optimal levels at all times. You should also make every attempt to control heat by running a fan over your plants.

Cost of a Hydroponic System

One thing that you will realize is that growing via a hydroponic system will involve a higher initial startup cost compared to growing your plants in soil. You will also need considerably more knowledge to get your system up and running efficiently.

That being said, a hydroponic system will require much less space than a soil-based system. It is also a much more hygienic method of growing with no risk of pest infestation or root rot, which will result in healthier plants. More importantly, a hydroponic system will also get you a higher yield in much less time.

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Growing marijuana indoors might be a more favorable option if you don’t have space outdoors or if the climate is not suitable for outdoor growing. While many types of cannabis can be grown equally well indoors or outdoors, some strains are better suited to indoor growing.

Why would you want to grow weed indoors? For one thing, you will have a lot more control over the environment and growing factors than if you planted your seeds outdoors. It is also much easier to conceal your crop if secrecy and/or security is an issue.indoor grow marijuana plant

Below we present a selection of seeds that are ideally suited to indoor growing. Keep in mind that there are many more strains out there that will provide similarly satisfactory results, so ask your supplier for more suggestions.

One of the strains that you should try is Afghan. The result of the crossbreeding of different varieties of Kush, Afghan is almost entirely Indica. These plants are characterized by round leaves and big buds. Afghans don’t have as many crystals as other strains, but the smoke that it emits is very rich and smooth. It is also quite flavorful, with a potent fruity flavor. Afghans are high in cannibidiol content, which makes it one of the most suitable strains for pain-relief purposes.

Aurora Indica is another type of Indica that is ideally suited for indoor growing. It has actually the result of been around for many years and is derived from Northern Lights and Afghan strains. This lineage produces a strain of exceptionally high quality bud thanks to the individual qualities of Northern Light and Afghan, which are known for their high yield and robustness respectively.

The Aurora Indica strain is characterized by a heavy and stony high. The plant material itself is very dark – almost black, in fact – and the aroma is definitely on the pungent side. A very potent strain, Aurora Indica produces a very relaxing sensation that makes it ideally suited for those who are looking for a strain that can be used to provide a considerable degree of pain-relief. Because of its potency, Aurora Indica is best taken in small doses.

Haze is another great option for those looking for a strain to plant indoors. This particular variety of weed is derived from Jamaican sativa and Skunk. The resulting plant is characterized by long tall stems and golden-hued buds. The leaves are also noticeably narrow towards the end, and the buds themselves pack a very respectable 15% to 20% THC content despite their comparatively small size.

Haze plants can grow as high as 250 cm, and even taller plants are possible if they are given even more space. Because of its size, Haze is often the strain of choice for growers that are interested in maximum yield. That being said, Haze can be very challenging to grow, and is best suited to growers that have considerable experience with other strains. The high that users get from Haze is commonly described as strong and “uplifting”.

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