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september outdoor grow guide

Leafly’s outdoor cannabis grower’s calendar

Growing cannabis outdoors is easy. All you need is a nice open space that gets lots of light, a water supply, good soil, and a way to cover the plants when the weather turns.

One of the most important things to know is that cannabis is dependent on a photoperiod, meaning that it changes from the vegetative to flowering stage when days start to shorten and nights get longer. You want to time things right so your plants can maximize their exposure to light during the summer before fall sets in.

Growing and harvest times here reflect ranges of time in the Northern Hemisphere. For more growing tips on specific regions, check out this guide on different climates.

On the West Coast of North America, cannabis farmers in Northern California have a long season: They can put plants outside early and harvest later into the season because of the region’s relatively warm weather.

Washington state, on the other hand, will have a shorter time frame, as plants can’t be put outside until later in the season because there’s not enough sunlight yet. Harvest needs to be completed earlier, before cold weather descends on buds and makes them wet and moldy.

Important dates

The Spring Equinox is a good reminder that it’s time to kick off the outdoor growing process and start germinating your seeds.

As the sun reaches up high in the sky, your cannabis will want to as well. Make sure all of your plants are outside by the Summer Solstice.

The weather will start to turn and the sun will begin descending in the sky as your plants fatten up with sweet, sticky buds. It might be tempting, but wait until around the Fall Equinox to start harvesting.

Everything should be cleaned up, dried, and curing well before the Winter Solstice. Now’s a good time to make your own cannabutter, topicals, or tinctures with all that trim from the harvest. Kick your feet up, relax, and hunker down for the cold, it’s been a long growing season!

Notes on phases

I can’t stress enough that the time frames on this graphic are ranges of time for the Northern Hemisphere. You’ll need to adjust them based on your specific region and local weather and climate.

Be sure to keep a grow journal to track the progress of your plants. Looking back on your notes will help you learn from mistakes and maximize the quality and quantity of your buds.

Take meticulous notes on when and how you perform each step, as well as what the weather is like. Other notes can include how much water you give plants, at what intervals, and how much nutrients you give them. Pictures will also give you a better sense of how your plants look along the way.

Buy seeds

Figuring out which strains you want to grow, where to purchase them, where on your property you want to grow, and your local climate and weather can take some time and work. And once you order seeds, it can take a few weeks for them to arrive. Be sure to do your research early and get a head start so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute and miss the ideal time to grow.

Germinate/Sow seeds

It takes about 3-7 days to germinate a seed. A lot of growers will do this indoors because seeds are delicate and it’s easier to control the temperature and climate inside. But if you live in a warmer climate, by all means, start growing them from seed outside. You can also use a small greenhouse outside to keep them warm.

When you start growing your seeds depends partly on how big you want your plants to be for harvest. If you’re going for high yields, the earlier you grow your plants, the bigger they’ll be. But keep in mind that smaller plants are more manageable and easier to top and prune.

Move outdoors/Put in the ground

If germinating seeds and growing them indoors first, this is the time frame that you’d move your plants outside so they can get some serious sunlight. You want them to get at least 6 inches – 1 foot in height before putting them outside, so they’re big and strong enough to handle the weather.

Some old school gardeners will tell you to wait until after Mother’s Day to take them outside, and generally speaking, you want them in the ground by the Summer Solstice at the latest.

Top/Prune plants

Most growers top their plants a few times (two or three) throughout the season to encourage outward development and make plants bush out. It’s a good idea to give them an initial top after the plant develops five or so nodes.

Once your plants start flowering and producing buds—generally, sometime in August—you want to stop topping your plants.

Pruning and cleaning up plants is done as-needed. You want to get rid of dead leaves and lower branches that won’t get light so the plant can use that energy for producing buds in healthier branches.

Growers can clean up their plants anywhere from 1-4 times during the season, depending on how big the crop is and how much labor is needed.

Harvest

What kind of strain you have and what climate you live in will determine when to harvest your strains. Indicas typically grow stouter and bushier and there is more of a concern that their dense buds will get moldy, so they’re usually harvested on the early side of the season. Sativas are generally taller and less dense, so they usually get harvested later.

Growers in colder climates will need to finish their harvests earlier, sometimes as early as September, for fear of wet, cold weather setting in and molding out buds. Warmer climates can sometimes harvest well into November.

This post was originally published on January 15 31, 2019. It was most recently updated on May 1, 2020.

Growing cannabis outdoors is easy, but timing is important. This guide will tell you what you need to know to get the most out of your garden.

Off-season marijuana crops outdoors

A single outdoor crop per year?

Normally, when growing outdoors we only take advantage of the best period of the year, late Spring and Summer. However, in many areas is it possible to perform several outdoor crops per year, especially during Spring and Autumm. To do this, we only need a small greenhouse to stabilize the temperature of the plants. For this type of crops we can use either autoflowering seeds or cuttings from motherplants; the only disadvantage of using cuttings is that, once we place them outdoors from our indoor growing tent, they practically don’t grow and start flowering immediately regardless their size.

For this reason, we should grow our cuttings indoors a few weeks before placing them in our outdoor greenhouse. In this way, we can control the final height of our plants keeping in mind that, while our plants will start flowering as soon as we place them outdoors, they will have the typical stretch during the pre-flowering stage just like in any other type of cultivation. Protecting our plants from the cold, frost, wind and other bad weather conditions with a greenhouse is also a good idea, since our plants will have a more abundant flowering.

Spring crop in greenhouse

A single fluorescent lighting kit is enough to grow traditional seeds or cuttings for a few weeks; if we root some cuttings at the beginning of the year, we can have nicely developed plants in February, perfect for a Spring outdoor crop. Many indoor growers seize this moment to renew their motherplants, taking cuttings from them – which will be kept indoors – and placing their motherplants outdoors to achieve higher yields.

Another option is using autoflowering seeds; germinate them during February-March (as soon as we notice that nights are less cold) directly outdoors, in their final pot. While we won’t need to previously grow automatic seeds indoors, it is true that our crop won’t be as homogeneous as it would have been if we were using cuttings. We can do the same during August-September to enjoy an Autumm crop, either if we use automatic seeds or clones.

Plants in pre-flowering stage

Spring cannabis crops

Naturally, marijuana plants grow during Spring and start flowering in Summer. If someone has ever grown cuttings outdoors, he/she will know that, as they have been under a 18/6 photoperiod during their rooting, they will start flowering automatically if we put them outdoors before mid-late May. Mid May is the approximate critical date for cannabis plants grown indoors; it is the time in which the cuttings that we put outdoors during February-March will start revegetating – stop flowering and growing again – since daylight hours increase. It is, then, the ideal time to put the cuttings that we want to flower during summer outdoors. Many growers choose the 1st of June to put their cutting outdoors, avoiding any risk of a premature pre-flowering.

For all these reasons, when we plan our Spring crop we must think that our plants have to be ripe in May, otherwise they will stop flowering and start growing again. We must carefully calculate the flowering time of our strains to know the perfect moment to take them outdoors; normally, the best moment for Sativas is mid-February, while we can wait a little bit for the Indicas, until the 1st of March.

Healthy plants inside an outdoor greenhouse

Many growers use small pots indoors and transplant their cuttings to bigger containers when they are placed outdoors. Using a quality root stimulator during the fiorst two weeks outdoors helps the plant to develop a nice rootball, needed to achieve abundant yields. During this short period, they also make sure that the plant has all the Nitrogen it needs for a lush pre-flowering stage.

From this moment, we only have to take special care of the temperatures and humidity levels inside the greenhouse, caring and fertilizing our plants like we would do in any other cannabis bloom, and always bearing in mind that we’ll have to harvest our plants by mid May.

Autumm marijuana crops

The idea is exactly the same than in Spring crops, with the advantage that in Autumm crops we don’t have a harvest deadline. If we take cuttings and place them outdoors from August to May of the following year, they will start flowering automatically. For this reason we can place them in our greenhouse during September (when the Summer crop is almost ready to harvest) to harvest them during November-December. We can do this a little later, but in most areas temperatures will be too low at the end of the flowering stage, affecting the yield.

Spring crop is almost ripe

So, while in Autumm crops we don’t have a harvest deadline – as happens in Spring crops – we must take care of low temperatures and bad climate conditions. This is why using a greenhouse is so important, which we can upgrade using greenhouse tubular heaters to achieve best results.

Conclusions

As we have seen, by using a simple fluorescent kit – indoors – and a small greenhouse – outdoors – we can easily perform up to three outdoor crops per year. The natural photoperiod of lots of countries allows us to perform these kind of crops.

As is so often the case, this type of growing has advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, late Spring and late Autumm are not periods in which thieves look for plants in other’s houses. Neighbours and Police do not expect to see plants during this periods, and we can supplement our Summer crop in case that we can’t grow enough plants during Summer for our personal annual use.

Ice water extraction made from an off-season crop

On the other hand, we do find a few disadvantages: as we have mentioned, clones don’t grow outdoors during this time, so a small indoor installation is needed in case we want to use cuttings. Both autoflowering seeds and cuttings have slightly lower yields than in Summer crops, and they decrease their calyx-leaf ratio, developing more sugar leaves in the buds. The flowers won’t be as dense and compact as usual, while the quality will be the same, with small variations on the terpene profile.

The lover of cannabis extractions will have noticed that all these “non-desirable” phenotypical changes are actually ideal if we want to make resin concentrates with our buds. Indeed, since our buds are not so compact and the resin production is the same (if not higher), these crops are perfect to make resin extractions, especially hashish.

Have a nice smoke, best vibes!

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Many areas offer the chance to perform several outdoor crops per year. We don’t need to be in Tropical zones and have an almost constant natural photo ]]>