One of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to cultivating cannabis plants of any variety is “how do I go about maximising the yield”. Whatever type of cannabis plant you are planning to grow and regardless of what you intend to do with the stuff, it pretty much goes without saying that the more you get back from your investment, the better. Nevertheless, some people choose to leave it all entirely up to fate and simply ‘see what happens’ when the time comes to harvest.
Suffice to say, this isn’t the best way of guaranteeing a good yield.
A Complex Question?
On the surface, the idea of approaching cannabis plant cultivation from an educated and scientific perspective in order to maximise yield comes across as something of a complicated challenge. In reality however, it doesn’t have to be nearly as difficult or complex as it sounds. The reason being that there are certain universally applicable rules and guidelines to follow when it comes to making the most of your crop. Certain strains will always have different growing guidelines and recommendations than others, but when it comes to the matter of maximising yields, there are certain rules of thumb that perpetuate across the board.
In terms of getting started, the single most important rule of all when it comes to maximising yields is that of choosing high-yielding strains in the first place. It’s important to understand that all cannabis strains are most certainly not equal when it comes to the kind of yield you can expect for your efforts. Quite a number of the latest commercial hybrids on the market for example are able to produce vastly superior yields on a per-square-meter basis, when compared to certain landrace strains. When you shop with a high quality seed bank, it will be made clear which strains are generally the best to go for when chasing maximum yield – you may even be able to narrow down your search to the strains that produce outstanding results.
Just a few examples of the kinds of strains that tend to be the most reliable of yields include 5KPuff, 5th Element, Cornbread, Critical Mass and Haze Heaven. If unsure, you can always ask the customer service team at the seed bank for their own personal recommendations.
Autoflowering or Early Strains
One slightly different avenue to consider exploring is that of setting yourself up with autoflowering or early cannabis plant strains. The reason being that they can be some of the fastest producing cannabis strains of all. Which in turn means that during any given period of time you have available, chances are you’ll be able to grow more plants and produce more cannabis.
With autoflowering strains, the plants are pre-programmed to begin flowering at a certain time, regardless of the conditions provided by the grower. Which in turn means that no matter what time of year you are growing at, it’s perfectly possible to go from seed to harvest in no more than about 8 weeks. In the case of early strains, it’s a case of flowering times being reduced significantly when compared to standard strains, though the grower (or the seasons) still has control over when the flowering stage commences.
If you are chasing maximum yields in minimal time, these could be the strains to go for.
Technically speaking, it is usually the outdoor cannabis plant, when provided with the best possible conditions at all times will deliver the most extraordinary yields. Towering 3-metre outdoor plants really cannot be compared to 1.20 metre indoor plants, in terms of exactly how much cannabis they have the potential to produce. Unfortunately, the majority of cannabis cultivators worldwide are not blessed with the kind of outdoor climate that ticks all the right boxes and because of this, those chasing optimum yields and ideally guaranteed yields are advised to set up indoors.
Maximising yields means maintaining optimum growing conditions at all times. From humidity to temperature, air flow, pH levels, nutrients and watering each and every one of these things must be meticulously managed and balanced at all times without allowing a single oversight to creep into the equation. Even if it doesn’t look like the odd mistake here and there is making a difference immediately, chances are it will make a big difference when it comes to final yields.
Trial and Error
For those setting up for the first time, it is advisable to expect and a fair amount of trial and error along the way. It is unlikely that you will get things 100% right the very first time, which is why experts recommend setting up on a rather modest scale. It’s the classic case of learning to crawl before learning to walk, run and ultimately fly.
What’s more, setting up on a smaller scale gives you the perfect opportunity to meticulously watch over each and every one of your plants and carry out as many experiments as you like, without losing track of what you are doing. When the time comes to harvest, you will (or at least should) have a detailed logbook, documenting exactly what you did, when you do it and the results of each of your actions. And once you have your blueprint for success, you can take things to a much higher level.
Increasing Light Intensity
In terms of tried-and-tested techniques for improving yields, one of the most effective of all is that of increasing light intensity. While the vast majority of growers even at a novice level understand just how important darkness is during a cannabis plant’s flowering stage, very few are aware of the impact and importance of light intensity. In the simplest possible terms, it is the light the plant is exposed to during the day that powers all of the chemical reactions that allow the plant to produce sugar, which it uses to grow the buds you’re gunning for. It is uninterrupted darkness that prompts the plant to produce florigen – an essential flowering hormone – but none of this can happen without the light that powers the process.
Which is precisely why thinking about increasing light intensity in your growroom can be a good idea, if you are targeting the best possible yields. For example, if you are currently using a 600W HPS lamp, consider swapping this for a 1,000W HPS lamp. This in turn would increase lumen output to 135,000 from 90,000, which according to some seasoned growers is a switch that has the potential to result in yields increasing almost two-fold. Alternatively, simply add a second 600W HPB lamp to accompany your current lighting setup for a similar effect.
Using Additional CO2
Another avenue to explore when it comes to taking yields to the highest possible level is that of using additional CO2 gas. Evidence suggests that a great many crops can benefit significantly from additional atmospheric CO2, with the vast majority of studies have been pointed to 1,500 parts per million (PPM) as the optimal level of CO2 for considerably more generous yields. However, it is important to be aware of the fact that if carbon dioxide levels are not extremely closely monitored and are allowed to reach a higher level than this, it is likely to have a detrimental impact on the yields you can expect.
Research has also shown that higher levels of carbon dioxide tend to be particularly effective when the temperature in the grow room is increased slightly higher than normal. Increasing light, CO2 and atmospheric temperatures at the right time during the life cycle of a cannabis plant leads to more photosynthesis, which in turn means greater production of sugar and more fuel for the essential flowering process.
Last but not least, it’s also important to remember that in order for yields to become as generous as they can possibly be, you need to bear in mind not only the quality and intensity of the light you provide, but also access to light. This means a process of selective pruning, which roughly translates as a process whereby you prune your plants in a manner that optimises light penetration and coverage. In addition, trimming plenty of leaves from the branches right at the bottom also comes highly recommended, given the way in which light penetration declines dramatically toward the bottom of the plant and the fact that it is far more efficient for your plants to focus its energy on the leaves and branches higher up.
Along with pruning in a way that ensures as many of your plant leaves as possible are exposed to essential light, there is also the option of using trellises and ties to help keep branches strategically spaced out. If you can make a real difference in terms of the way in which the leaves spanning your entire plant gain access to light, chances are you will also notice a real difference when it comes to yields.