Indoor vs Outdoor vs. Light Dep : What's the Difference?
With a nickname like ‘weed,’ you’ve probably guessed that getting cannabis to grow isn’t rocket science. But cultivating crops with the highest yield, consistent flavor, and perfect cannabinoid profile is an art as well as a science. There are three main cultivation techniques used in commercial cannabis growing: indoor vs outdoor, and greenhouse light dep.
If these sound like a mystery to you, we’re here to explain the methods behind the madness.
[caption id="attachment_961" align="alignright" width="573"] Outdoor cannabis grows massive, and is usually better for the environment.[/caption]
Soil, sun, and water, just as nature intended.
Outdoor cannabis is grown exactly how you’re already picturing it. That means rows of bright green cannabis bushes planted in a field outdoors (or in pots, in a field), soaking up the rays.
The light they need in order to grow is fully provided by the sun. Nutrients and water are partly provided by rain and the soil, but also supplemented with fertilizer and watering systems.
This cultivation method is the closest to the natural life cycle and is considered the most environmentally friendly way to grow weed. With nature providing light and airflow for cooling, this is also undoubtedly the cheapest way to grow cannabis, but it does come with drawbacks.
The plants are at the mercy of the weather, and natural pests have to be managed with pesticide sprays.
Most importantly, outdoor farms can’t control the hours of light and darkness. This means they are forced to plant only in the correct season. Cultivators must wait months until the days grow short enough to trigger the plants into flowering phase.
These factors limit outdoor growers to only one harvest per year, according to the cannabis plant’s natural life cycle.
But the plants grow to their full size and produce premium quality flower, such as at Aster Farms in Northern California. They are committed to organic craft cannabis farming “the way it was meant to be grown: outdoors, under the sun, moon, and stars.”
Similarly, Lowell Farms on the coast of Central California prides itself on producing premium cannabis “naturally and with a deep love and respect for the plant.”
Greenhouse Light Dep
This cultivation technique also uses natural sunlight but offers a solution to the lack of light control in outdoor grows. Light dep (short for ‘light deprivation’) is a technique that uses blackout screens or shutters. These screens artificially control the hours of daylight, which in turn, tells the plants when it's time to flower.
The plants grow inside a greenhouse, flourishing under the sun’s rays until they are big enough to start flowering. Then, their daylight hours are cut short by covering the greenhouse in blackout material so that it is plunged into darkness inside. Many farms have automated shutters that close on a timer.
The increasing hours of darkness trick plants into thinking winter is approaching and it’s time to flower. This way, farmers can fit in two harvest cycles over summer and fall, doubling down on their annual yield.
Many people regard indoor cannabis as the cream of the crop. It often sells for double the price of outdoor weed. Part of the reason for the premium prices is because it costs much more to grow weed indoors.
Without the sun’s natural light, indoor farms need to power huge lighting rigs to supply their plants with the rays they need to grow. All that light in an enclosed space generates a lot of heat, so they require extraction and cooling systems too.
Ultimately, farming indoors allows complete control over all the variables that go into growing cannabis, from the soil content to the water, light intensity to air temperature. That kind of fine-tuning comes at high production costs. But, it also allows farmers to grow and harvest all year round instead of being limited by seasons.
Indoor vs Outdoor: How Does Cultivation Technique Affect the Flower?
Indoor weed is prized so highly because complete control over the growing conditions results in a more consistent crop. So you know you’ll get the same thing each time you order. It can also allow growers to achieve higher concentrations of cannabinoids, so indoor is known for its potency. Some of California's best strains come from indoor settings.
On the other hand, indoor lighting can’t fully replicate all the spectrums of light produced by the sun. For this reason, many cannabis lovers believe that outdoor growing allows the plant to reach its full genetic potential under natural sunlight, giving a better terpene profile and flavor.
So, Indoor vs Outdoor... Whats Better?
Honestly, there’s no right answer here, and that’s a good thing! Here in California, we have access to some of the best outdoor farms and most advanced indoor growing technology.
The fruits of the farming labor are here for you to enjoy, so try out a variety, trust your personal tastes, and treat yourself to something different every now and then.