As I’m writing this at the beginning of February, I’m using Flawless Finish to flush the marijuana plants I started from seed in October, and I’ll be harvesting all my strains within 10 days.
A majority of cannabis growers in my network use the cooler months, from October to March, as their primary or only growing season. Meanwhile, I tend to only grow from October through February, just time enough to bring in one massive harvest from several different strains.
I’d love to grow year-round, but the warmer months stress my growing systems and cost way too much in overheads. The extra strain of electricity and air-conditioning equipment for running my 4,000-plus watts of grow lights during the warmest months of the year would be a financial burden.
When it’s hot and humid outdoors, my attic heats up and stays well over 115°F, even at night and even though I have top-rank insulation, an attic fan, and roof ridge vents.
The extreme outdoor heat means that my three-ton air-conditioning unit has to run all the time to keep my grow-room temperature in target range. Sometimes I even have to bring in a Quest dehumidifier to remove humidity.
My electricity meter spins faster and faster, and each spin is more money flowing out of my bank account. Necessary use of climate control appliances when I grow in warm months adds as much as $135 to my electricity bill each month. It’s about half that when I run the same wattage grow op in the cool months.
Also, the outdoor component of my air-conditioning system is right next to my bedroom window, and its constant noise disturbs my sleep — yet another reason to not run my indoor marijuana grow op during warm months.
Many growers also avoid indoor growing in the hotter months so they can cut back on the number of grow lights they run, or because warm months are prime season for pests and diseases such as aphids, thrips, whiteflies, spider mites, broad mites, fungus gnats, gray mold and powdery mildew.
In cold months, these pests are somewhat suppressed or driven away, especially if temperatures drop to below freezing.
Retrospective Analysis Of Your Cannabis Growing Season
After I’m done harvesting, trimming, manicuring, drying and curing my buds, I have a yield-boosting method of analyzing my just-finished marijuana growing season, and for deactivating my grow room until my new season starts in the fall.
The analysis protocol starts with retrospective data gathering from the grow season just concluded. This task is made easier because I keep a detailed grow diary from before I start my grow season until I’ve weighed my dry buds.
The data gathering process involves answering the following questions:
- How many grams of dried, cured bud did I get per watt of grow light electricity use? What was the quality of the bud?
- What, if any, equipment failures, upgrades, additions, or other hydroponics grow-room gear adjustments did I deal with during the growing season, and why?
- What types and wattages of grow lights did I use and how did they perform? How far away were my grow lights from my plant canopy at various stages of growth?
- What kind of hydroponics or soil growing system and root-zone media did I use, and how did it perform?
- How much money did I spend in total on the grow-op seasonal operating costs from start to finish, and how much money is the harvest worth?
- What mistakes did I make during the growing season? What did I do right during the growing season?
- How many cannabis strains did I grow and what were they? Which strains were the most productive and easiest to grow, and which were the least productive and/or most difficult to grow?
- What hydroponics feed program did I use, and what parts per million and pH did I run week-specific as the season progressed?
- How much water did I provide each plant at the time of each watering, and as a weekly total?
- How long did bloom phase take for each strain?
- What were daily grow-room temperatures and humidity?
- What, if any, pests or diseases invaded my grow room, and how did I handle the attack? What could I have done to block the attackers and discover and/or eradicate them earlier? What if any preventive or remedial anti-pest and anti-disease tactics did I use during the marijuana growing season?
- Did my marijuana plants hit any growth plateaus or other barriers in which their growth and health were endangered in an unusual way?
- When in the grow season did I top, trim, low stress train, or otherwise alter my marijuana plants’ natural growing profile, and how did that work change my plants’ profiles? Did I have to provide plant supports, and if so, why and when?
- How many labor hours per day, week and month did I put in, related to my grow op? How much labor value does my work equal in dollars?
- Did I have security breaches or raid scares, and if so, how did they originate and how can I avoid them in my next grow-op season?
- What should I do before my next cannabis growing season starts to create better outcomes, avoid problems, make growing easier? What could I have done in planning and executing my just-ended grow season to improve outcomes?
Create A Plan For Improving Your Next Grow Op
This kind of grow-op data gathering and analysis gives you an extremely useful and necessary road map for improving your cannabis cultivation.
For example, in the marijuana growing season I’m just ending, I ran 4,000 watts of grow lights mixing metal halide, high pressure sodium, and LED grow lights in varying ratios based on my plants’ stage of growth and height.
I grew three different marijuana strains in individual pots, using soilless mix and hand-watering. I increased pot size three times to accommodate increase in root mass, from starter pucks to one-gallon to three-gallon to 10-gallon pots.
A week before entering bloom phase, I topped several plants, but not all of them. The topping was done to channel normal plant stretch that happens at the start of bloom phase into a more productive, stockier plant profile. It worked. I had an even canopy, fewer plants but way more colas per plant.
It takes time and work to do grow-op data gathering and analysis, so what’s the payoff?
Retrospective analysis helps you detect trends and acute incidents that may have been obscured in the daily workload of taking care of living plants that have developmental timelines and that have to be dealt immediately.
Most of us who run serious marijuana growing operations recognize that sometimes it’s all you can do to just keep up with the daily duties you owe your plants and your grow op.
Sometimes the constant onslaught of events can make time fly, especially when you run several different strains in the same room. Later on, after the season is over, you take a beat, take a breath, go back and look at your data, and you see where things went right, and where they went wrong.
Benefits Of Cannabis Growing Analysis
My grow-op analysis protocol is a systematic approach to deciphering what procedures, strains, gear, grow-room infrastructure, and cultivation protocols need replacing, tweaking, upgrading, or require a different approach altogether. This gives you a detailed heads-up so you can best prepare for your next grow season — and enjoy a more bountiful grow op.
In my most recent season, I committed to paying closer attention to the distance between my grow lights and my plant canopy. Why? Because my earlier grow-room analyses indicated my light distance wasn’t what it should be, and this has a big impact on plant yield, bud size and bud potency.
When grow lights are too close, they burn your plants, discourage resinous bud growth, and create plant stress. Conversely, if grow lights are too far away from the plant canopy, your plants are deprived of adequate photosynthetically active radiation. This makes your plants stretch, grow slowly if at all, and causes your yields to be much lower.
As I measured my canopy-to-grow-lights distance day by day, and kept a close eye on my plants’ leaves and growth patterns to measure the effects of my lighting, I adjusted the lamps frequently, sometimes every day.
This proved noticeably beneficial in bloom phase, when I hovered a high-ultraviolet, professionally made LED grow light 12.5 inches from my plant canopy after conducting many experiments with the spacing. I micromanaged the light-to-canopy distance, raising the LED grow light as the plants stretched in bloom phase. It was a painstaking balancing act between too close and not close enough.
When I found the 12.5-inch sweet spot, I saw the plants eating up the UV and infrared radiation coming from the LEDs. Their leaves turned upward to the light, and maybe it was the sativa I was inhaling, but I think I saw them smiling. The LED light spectrum was totally bizarre to my naked eye, but to the plants, it was photosynthetic heaven.
My lighting hack rewarded me with increased cannabinoid and terpenoid production. My plants blasted out huge clouds of terpenoid volatile aromatics at different times during lights-on cycle. Delicious!
Closing Up Your Grow Room For The Off Season
Along with data gathering and analysis, I recommend doing a protective, preventive, performance-enhancing cleaning and retrofitting of your grow op.
This process involves:
- Temporarily retiring the grow room to do a thorough postseason deep clean.
- Change all filters including reverse osmosis.
- Have your climate control equipment serviced if needed.
- Replace defective equipment, such as worn-out grow bulbs.
- Upgrade gear for better grow equipment.
- Implement any other material upgrades, such as changing the reflective wall covering, or replacing anything that’s broken.
This is also a good time to place pumps, lights, filtration equipment and any other gear into conditions that protect them from degradation during their time off. Remember, some hydroponics grow gear may wear out from non-use and be defective when you need to use it again six months later. I’ve had it happen with pumps and irrigation tubing. Be prepared for some items to need replacing, no matter how well you store them.
For those of us nearing the end of an indoor marijuana growing season who won’t be restarting a new season for several months, these tactics should give you peace of mind, wisdom, and better outcomes the next time you grow the sacred plant.