Everything you need to know about light dep weed
Growing marijuana can be easy or it can be super complicated with a high-tech hydroponics system that takes skill to keep running, and a multitude of different techniques that require a combination of luck and knowledge to pull off. There are so many different ways to grow cannabis that it’s nearly impossible to keep up with them all, but there is one technique that is catching on, and it results in what many refer to as light dep weed.
What is light dep weed?
If you’ve been browsing the California market lately you might have noticed a brand-new product added to the menu, light dep weed, but what is this strange new thing really? Well, light dep cannabis is just as it sounds, a bud that has been produced by putting plants through what is called light deprivation during the right stages of life.
What is light deprivation?
Light deprivation is very similar to some of the strict lighting schedules that certain growers use on indoor crops, with scheduled light and dark periods that will work to trick the plant into entering the flowering stage on demand. In practice, light deprivation for cannabis plants usually involves large greenhouses that use tarps to keep strict control over the amount of light exposure, as well as grow lights to supplement whenever necessary because you can’t always rely on the sun to provide what this type of crop will need.
How it’s done
Light deprivation is a technique that was designed with greenhouse growers in mind because cannabis plants require an uninterrupted temperature and humidity level that is nearly impossible to reproduce in nature. Rather than an even 12-12 or any other simple division, light deprivation requires intermittent light and dark sessions, which is why greenhouse growers will typically use blackout tarps to help them to achieve total darkness.
The benefits of growing light dep weed
The benefits of light dep weed are lost on consumers, as they do not see any advantage aside from having access to a slightly cheaper product, but the producers of cannabis who utilize this arduous technique say that they see such excellent yields that the reduction in the overall value of the raw product itself is more than worth it. Using light deprivation also makes large scale grow operations more energy-efficient, requiring less power and water in the long run, which means that it’s good for the environment too.
Is light deprivation a new growing technique?
Growing marijuana using light deprivation is not a new idea, and today there are many different variations of this technique out there, but it wasn’t until recently that the trend began to really catch on because the benefits can be reaped most by larger-scale operations that simply did not exist before. Now that we have a bustling legal market and companies are doing their best to bring forward competitive pricing, it’s becoming much more common to find light dep weed at any legal dispensary.
The popularity of light deprivation
On the Pacific Coast in places like California, the significant increase in the popularity of this growing technique is impossible to ignore, with a sudden influx of light dep weed in nearly every corner of the legal market areas. Unfortunately, rigorous and strict regulations in Canada and other countries have made it impossible for most cultivators to put this option into practice, but it’s likely only a matter of time before they too accept the benefits of this way of doing things.
Risks vs. rewards
Light deprivation is no easy feat, and it doesn’t take much to ruin an entire crop with one small misstep, but it’s up to each grower to look at and consider the benefits versus the risks of trying such a thing.
- Cost savings (for growers)
- Energy efficiency
- Larger yields (leading to lower cost for consumers)
- Faster harvest
- Less room for error
- Darker and less appealing buds
- Lower worth due to the poor aesthetics
Light dep weed will never be able to compete with or replace indoor cannabis, but it does offer a unique solution that can help growers, consumers, and the environment, so it isn’t a technique that should be dismissed because it can do a whole lot of good. Consumers can buy cheaper buds, and growers can harvest more frequently throughout the year. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The pros and cons of growing marijuana in a greenhouse through the winter
If you are interested in the prospect of growing marijuana in a greenhouse, then there are more things to consider than you might think.
Light deprivation is very similar to some of the strict lighting schedules that certain growers use on indoor crops.
Light Deprivation: Pro vs. Con
If you read my last post light Deprivation: Inro, then you have a basic idea of how a light dep system works and a few of the major advantages that come with it. It may sound like the ultimate investment, which it often is, however there are always pros and cons to just about everything, especially when it comes to greenhouse related products. This post is all about the pros and cons of a greenhouse light deprivation system when compared to outdoor cannabis cultivation.
Shorter Grow / Higher Potency / Added Control
In the plant’s early life they receive around 18 hours of sun light a day, which promotes the stem and leaf growth. When the plant is forced into a 12 hr on 12 hr off light dep cycle the plants begin to focus their efforts at forming their buds instead of growing their branches. Controlling the light supply forces the plant to start maturing, which it turn gives the grower the potential to cut their grow season down from roughly six months to around four months.
Depending on the time of year the grower decides to force flower their plants there is opportunity for higher potency. By forcing the plant to flower in a season when the sunlight is intense and abundant the plants will be forming their buds with high quality sunlight resulting in higher quality cannabis.
Further, lets not forget the huge benefit of having increased control over your crop. Light dep allows for the grower to strategically plan into when they want to harvest. This is huge, because in the competitive cannabis market timing can be very important. For example, if the market is dry and you’re sitting on a large supply, then you can get top dollar for you crop.
Added Responsibility / Smaller Plants / Humidity
Top on the cons list is the time dedication required for a successful light dep cycle. If you plan to manually lift a black out tarp over your greenhouse at the same time every day you are at risk of disrupting that 12 on 12 cycle. If for some reason this process gets screwed up the plants can get seriously damaged as they get shocked back into the vegetative state. A cure for this is automation, but that is another expense and device to power.
Shortening the growth-cycle in the vegetative state results in plants that are less developed and smaller harvest than what you could get with the long outdoor season. Another challenge is sustaining black out darkness while also getting proper air circulation. Usually exhaust and intake fans help control the temperature and humidity in the greenhouse by promoting fresh airflow, but in doing so they also let light in to the grow area. Circulation fans are often used during the black out period, but they only recirculate the stagnant air inside of the greenhouse. During the light dep period excess heat can build up, humidity levels can rise and the threat of mold becomes an issue.
In the video below, Kevin Jodrey owner of Wonderland Nursery brings up another potential con with light dep cultivation (00:33-1:45):
He says that they have been noticing that while deping a bunch of different varieties; supplemental lighting and blackout, they have been seeing 3-5% of indica based strains showing signs of hermaphroditism and incomplete flowering. If these plants were not exposed to a light dep cycle they would grow fine. His main point is that we have not had the chance to run through all of the strains with this production method so we haven’t been able to fully understand which strains are stable for these forms of manipulation and which aren’t.
Light deprivation is a risk, things can go seriously wrong if you manage to skip a day or two during the light dep process.Not to mention, your plants and yields will potentially be smaller than an outdoor grow, and mold might decide to take over in your dark humid greenhouse. However, the cons can be mitigated with some new accessories (breathable tarps, fan covers, automation, etc.), and in my opinion the pros far outweigh the cons. Where light dep lacks in size it makes up with speed, potency, and control. Just make sure to do some additional research into your specific operation to make sure a light dep system is a viable investment.
If you are interested in the first steps towards setting up your own light dep system then stay tuned for my next post Light Deprivation: Methods | Tarps | Suppliers
Do you have any experience with this topic? Any opinions on some additional pros and cons of light dep? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
If you read my last post light Deprivation: Inro, then you have a basic idea of how a light dep system works and a few of the major advantages that come with it. It may sound like the ultimate investment, which it often is, however there are always pros and cons to just about everything, especially when it comes to…