I’ve been growing for a couple of years, and I’m disappointed with the potency of my plants’ essential oils. I use marijuana for pain relief and would really like to boost the cannabinoid levels for better pain relief. Any advice you could provide on improving my plants? — Thanks, Carole
Well, Carole, isn’t this the crux of the whole shebang? More sugar! The basis of my whole career is trying to help the personal grower make the most of their efforts. Stronger flowers and higher yields make your cannabis more valuable. If it’s more potent, you can smoke less to achieve the desired effect. If you grow more, then you can smoke more.
There are many angles of attack; I could write a book on yield enhancement techniques. For now, though, I’ll suggest a few that can be easily applied while having substantial effects.
First off, plants need to be healthy to achieve their genetic potential. Keeping plants healthy and photosynthesizing through the entire production phase of flowering is the only way to maximize potency. Remember, you are what you eat and so are your plants. So, be patient when learning how much to water and feed.
Next, stress training is a technique like that used by bonsai masters. Manipulating branches, whether by carefully bending, twisting, and snapping the inner hurd (core) of branches, is a technique known as supercropping. You can also use garden tape or twine to tie down branches and expose lower, inner nodes to more light.
Also, use a bloom booster during peak flowering, which usually occurs in weeks four to six (possibly week seven for sativas). This can be achieved by elevating levels of phosphorous and potassium by 10-15 per cent.
You can also preserve your root mass by not under- or overwatering. Roots are sensitive; too dry and they die, too wet and they suffocate. Learn to effectively cycle your plants through complete wet to dry cycles during the veg stage. As the plants get larger, they need more water present to hold up its vegetation and keep a larger root system moist.
Also, keeping the lights close to the plants is a great way to increase photosynthesis, growth rates, and minimize internodal spacing. However, having the ability to back off the lights while the buds are ripening is essential. This can be done either by raising lights to double the distance during production, lowering the wattage, or both.
Finally, mimic the natural world by using halide for vegging and sodium for flowering. Plants that wake up from their first full dark cycle to the intense light spectrum change will experience a pronounced difference in time until bud set. Less time stretching means a shorter intermodal spacing, which directly relates to larger colas.
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