One of the most common questions I hear new growers ask in my hydroponics shop is whether, after obtaining what they deem to be a good yield, if there is anything they can do—or stop doing—to get the same or even better results. Here is what I have to say on the matter.

When can you say that you have great results?

First of all, it is important to know whether you are actually getting great results. Most growers believe that obtaining one good outcome is enough to call your harvest a “great result,” but this is not the case.

One result is a point, not a trend, as illustrated in Graph #1. A trend is defined simply as a tendency in a given direction, but you need more than one point on a graph to call it a trend in a given direction, right? For example, Graph #2 illustrates a general upward trend from points A through to F.

How do you determine if you have a trend?

A great result can only be truly known if you are in a position to compare your current yield in terms of quality and quantity with what you have obtained before. Therefore, you will need even more points, a mean of good results and an outcome that peaks out of that.

To judge how well your crops are doing, you need to define what your baselines are. This entails consistent re-growth—about three times—of the same type of crop, ensuring you use the same components. The yield from each growth cycle can be recorded for comparison later. This can be done by means of recording tastes from each yield, taking pictures or recording in a graph as seen in Graph #3.

In Graph #3, there are three values, which have been plotted as A, B and C. These values have been plotted in red to show a trend. The values were then used to calculate the mean value of the three growth cycles (the blue line), or the baseline values obtained from the three growth cycles.

From here, one can change one component at a time, such as adding a bloom booster, and evaluate the outcome by comparing it with the baseline. In Graph #4, the component did not yield positive results as can be seen by the lowered mean (baseline) and point D was lower than the others.

A great result will spring from consistently improving values over a period of time, as pictured in Graph #5.

What are the advantages of comparing harvests this way?

Whenever it is time to reap a harvest, you are eager to find out whether you improved on previous results. You want to know if the $200 you spent on the new component was worth it. You ask yourself whether the yield was more than the last time. Do the flowers look better than they did last time? We all go through this emotional struggle, but comparing harvests as I’ve described above provides the answers you want.

Maintaining consistency provides a means to better evaluate your successes. You will be able to make the most productive decision. For instance, you’ll be able to better evaluate cost metrics such as an increase in weight versus the price of the new nutrients you want to buy.

You will also be able to decide which crops are most suitable for you. The cons of trying new crops range from not knowing just how much water is enough to the plant’s specific requirements not fitting within your way of doing things. That is a hassle we all go through, but once you get the hang of things, you will gain enough experience to know what to work with and hopefully the courage to try new things, expanding your knowledge base across several crops.

The importance of making a better evaluation cannot be understated and in the words of Scott Fritz, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

You will know that you are a master grower when you achieve a shift in your mind set and a dedicated purpose. This will happen when you know exactly what to do to obtain a wanted outcome. I have grown to become a master and I want to assist you to become one as well so you will be able to get the outcome you wish to have.