Indoor vs outdoor commercial cannabis growing
When we start to look closely at the debate between outdoor commercial cannabis growing and indoor cultivation in Michigan, the limited number of strains that can be grown outdoors is one of the key problems. Most outdoor strains require long sunny days and relatively kind weather to produce the kind of quality products that consumers demand. This may be easier to find in California or the southern states than in rainy, snowy, and overcast Michigan.
Although a cross between indoor and outdoor cultivation is developing with greenhouses, it still appears that indoor cultivation has a lot of advantages aside from the climate control energy consumption. The following factors can be compared between the methods:
- Bud quality
- Energy costs
- Risks to crops
The History of Cannabis Cultivation
Cannabis has been cultivated in America since the days of our founding fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who were, likewise, known to grow hemp. Cannabis tends to devolve into hemp if left to reproduce on its own in the wild without human cultivation and selective breeding. Hemp contains less than .3 percent of THC by federal law definition and is otherwise low in THC production in the wild even if the exact number varies.
Aside from a couple of landrace strains that had particularly high potency when discovered, Afghani and Thai, most plants lack high THC content. The potency of marijuana has dramatically increased since indoor cultivation began due to prohibition. Working with smaller quantities and being able to cultivate prime specimens in highly controlled indoor environments has made the cannabis plant stronger than ever.
What Are the Advantages of Indoor Cultivation?
Many prefer the buds of plants produced indoors because they are pristine and can be grown using extra CO2 to maximize growth. Indoor grows also allow the grower to use perfect lighting cycles to produce plants on their time schedules. Being able to choose when a plant will start to flower, cloning, and using screen methods (SCROG) of growth that maximize the canopy of the cannabis, all lead to a higher quality of products and more control over the growth.
Indoor growing methods and the nutrients created for hydroponic grows have broken down cannabis cultivation into a science. The only disadvantage of indoor growth is that even full-spectrum grow lights fall short of producing the wavelengths of light that plants soak up in the outdoors.
A lot of the light that is used outdoors has a large green spectrum, however, that reflects off the plants. Yet, when you see the difference between the variety of leaf sizes and natural pigments that are evoked by natural light or even full spectrum lightbulbs to a lesser degree, it can make plants that are flowered using HPS (high-pressure sodium) lights look sickly and even chopped and form in comparison.
Indoor growing is also the perfect environment for someone who wants to secure their crops. It is much easier to lock a door on a commercial indoor growhouse than it is to guard an outdoor crop. When you consider the value of a large-scale cannabis crop, security is a major concern. In illegal outdoor grow operations, the mafias hire armed guards to keep watch over the plants 24/7 at the risk of their lives if anyone damages or steals the crops.
What Are the Disadvantages of Indoor Cultivation?
The biggest disadvantage is equipment failures. When you are relying on an artificial environment, you have to take obsessive steps to ensure the reliability of the systems. The biggest problem comes about when timers fail or light leaks into the environment. The plants are highly photosensitive during the flowering cycle and will hermiate if any unexpected changes occur.
Hermiated plants have both male and female organs. This is undesirable because the male plants have substantially lower potency than the female plants. And if the pollen is allowed to spread, the seeded plants will have significantly lower potency than the sensimillia seedless plants. A power outage in the region or even a film on the windows that starts to come loose can all wreak havoc on a large-scale grow and ruin the crop.
Mites are also a problem. Because there are no natural predators indoors like ladybugs to attack pests, they can get out of control and infest an indoor crop. You can also develop mold problems if the area is run on a sprinkler system that overwaters and the pots are not properly irrigated.
Indoor plants also tend to suffer from nutrient burn much easier because they are usually kept in small pots that can be hard to flush or fortify with nutrients properly. Whereas, plants grown outdoors will develop a root system that will make the growth hearty by spreading out to reach the nutrients. And of course, let’s not forget the high energy consumption of an indoor grow.
What Are the Advantages of Outdoor Cultivation?
The biggest advantage is the yield. Plants grown indoors usually yield about 1 gram per watt of artificial light. These yields can vary heavily depending on the strain and growing conditions, however. Outdoors, the plants have exposure to a huge grow light, the sun, that is bombarding them with radiation and all the energy that they could ever need. Therefore, plants grown outdoors can turn into monsters and produce much higher yields. Hermiation from errant lighting cycles is not going to occur outdoors and will ensure that the plant produces its most natural and full product when grown correctly.
What Are the Disadvantages of Outdoor Cultivation?
Outdoors presents security problems, problems with animals, problems with other types of pests and mold. You have far less control over the environment and can have your grow destroyed by a bad storm or sudden drops in temperature. Some believe, however, that the conflict in federal and state laws has led many outdoor growers to rush their harvests and to neglect their crops, which reduces the quality and appearance of the product. You may require 4 full-time workers to maintain an outdoor crop throughout an entire grow season, which will not reach its harvest period into the late autumn months.
Outdoor cultivation is a great alternative if you have the right environment. However, most environments do not naturally facilitate the growth of the most popular cannabis strains. A hybrid greenhouse environment may be the best choice. This intermediate choice saves energy and reduces the risks of hermiation while maintaining security and better control over the environment.