sea of green

Swimming In The Sea Of Green: High-Density Marijuana Growing

Many cannabis growers believe the screen of green (SCROG) and sea of green (SOG) marijuana growing techniques are pretty much the same thing.

We’ve given you the most complete series explaining every facet of SCROG marijuana growing, including:

Now, it’d be rude not to show the same courtesy to the sea of green cannabis growing method.

It’s easy to see why growers might confuse SCROG and SOG. Both methods are utilized when growers have limited vertical space; you often find these two grow styles practiced in grow chambers, closets and grow tents. A significant percentage of SCROG and SOG growers cultivate autoflowering marijuana strains rather than full-size photoperiod strains (although I’ll explain later why this isn’t such a good strategy).

SOG and SCROG growing relies on dense, horizontally oriented gardens of plants shorter in height than regular marijuana grow ops with photoperiod marijuana strains grown full-size.

SCROG growing relies on a screen or multiple screens placed above marijuana plants so branches grow into and through the screens while being supported by the awnings. A screen is also used in some SOG grow ops. With both techniques you see unusually crowded canopy density and narrow spacing.

Sea Of Green Isn’t Screen Of Green

Despite the similarities, sea of green really is different from screen of green marijuana growing.

One big difference is that with SCROG you use female clones or seed-grown feminized photoperiod marijuana plants, but with SOG you only use female clones or feminized autoflowering seedlings.

Why is that?

The foundational sea of green technique calls for large numbers of sufficiently rooted clones or autoflowering seedlings placed in your grow op, giving them barely enough time to get fully established, and then flipping them into flowering.

This is a big contrast with SCROG growing, in which growers use low stress training, or LST, to train a small number of plants so that they spread out horizontally with unnatural branching. The scrogging process almost always slows down plant growth and extends total crop time. That’s the opposite of SOG, where growers push their plants to root, the plants establish themselves, flower, and finish as soon as possible.

I’m not a big fan of using autoflowering cannabis in SOG gardens. It’s true that autoflowering cannabis plants start blooming automatically 2–3 weeks after germination and this benefits SOG growers, but there are problems.

For one thing, autoflowering plants develop a wider branching profile than you want in a SOG garden. Also, autoflowering marijuana has ruderalis-influenced genetics that don’t give you buds as big or as potent as you get from photoperiod cannabis.

My recommendation for the most favorable payoff from a SOG garden is to use rooted clones taken from healthy, high-yielding photoperiod mother plants.

In Sea Of Green It’s Genetic Consistency That Matters Most

Licensed commercial SOG growers and experienced Master Growers give their rooted clones 4–16 days in grow phase before they switch to bloom-phase lighting. Their goal is to grow a densely packed army of small, single-cola cannabis plants that are almost all bud from the ground up.

It’s recommended to take all your SOG clones from one mother plant. This promotes maximum consistency in growth characteristics, height, maturation and bloom-phase duration.

If you can’t clip enough cuttings from one mother plant and have to use ancillary mothers, do your best to make sure all are genetically very similar. Again, this is instrumental in giving you uniform canopy height, plant profile development, and bloom-phase timing.

Be warned: If you use mother plants with significantly different genetics, some clones will grow taller and faster than others, leading to an uneven canopy that impedes equivalent delivery of light energy to all clones, with some further from grow lights than others.

Another problem with clones cut from mothers with incompatible genetics is that some will mature earlier than others. This is especially problematic in SOG gardening because unlike in a photoperiod marijuana garden, it can be difficult to selectively harvest individual plants.

Here’s a cool rule of thumb for SOG: Make sure all your clones are the same genetics, grow to the same height, and are ready for flushing and harvesting at the same time.

sea of green

Sea of Green gives you high-density, high-yield, fast-finishing cannabis gardening. Image courtesy of Alchemy.

Screen? Maybe. LST? No Way.

In most SOG gardens, plants rarely grow taller than 36 inches, and average about 22–30 inches in height. SOG growers sometimes use a solo screen for plant support, but they rarely if ever use multiple stacked and spaced screens like SCROG growers would.

Another crucial difference between the two methods is that SOG growers don’t perform low stress training to spread their plants’ branches horizontally like SCROG growers do. That’s the opposite of their goal — rather, SOG growers want short, vertical bud spears. They want negligibly branched clone plants, and that’s why they don’t practice LST.

SCROG cannabis takes longer than normal grow ops to finish because LST and its required trimming tactics create hormonal and growth-rate changes that slow plants. LST also creates extra work for the grower.

But SOG clones finish faster than they normally would because the grower cuts the normal grow phase in half to quickly initiates bloom phase.

Now, let’s take a look at the differences between SOG and SCROG in a practical sense:

In a SOG garden using photoperiod clones that are described by the strain’s breeder as having a 56-day bloom phase, a SOG season goes from start to finish in 10 weeks.

In a regular marijuana garden using those same clones and allowing them to spend a month in grow phase before initiating bloom phase, the crop finishes in 12–13 weeks.

SOG’s faster turnaround time is one reason growers who favor this technique often run what’s known as perpetual gardens, i.e., a grow op in which new clones are taken and rooted so they’re ready for transplanting into grow phase as soon as the previous bloom phase crop is harvested.

Perpetual gardens maximize grow-room infrastructure and space more efficiently than regular grow-op scheduling patterns in which there’s a break in growing after each crop is harvested. SOG growers can often squeeze in extra crop cycles per year compared to growers who use regular grow-phase duration and have periods of time when their grow room isn’t hosting plants.

In our continuing series examining the SOG garden, we’ll explain how to prep, plant, space, trim, feed, light and harvest these grow ops, so stay tuned to BigBudsMag.com for the best cannabis-growing information. And check out this video showing a sea of green grow op, courtesy of FarmerJoeParker:

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