Now that marijuana is set to be legal in Colorado, the next step is to grow some.
Denver Relief, one of the oldest dispensaries in Colorado, are the experts you want to hear from on this.
Their strain OG-18 won the top prize in the Cannabis Cup for medical hybrids.
They’ve even started a consultant side-business with the goal to advise people new to the industry on how to start their own marijuana business.
Needless to say, Denver Relief is the firm to talk to if you want to find out how to grow cannabis for a living.
We spoke to Nick Hice, the chief grower at Denver Relief, and he told us the process, the challenges, and the tricks you need to know to grow outstanding marijuana. Of course, it’s probably not legal in your state to do this, so just enjoy this for educational and informational purposes.
Don't grow from seeds, grow from cuttings from healthy, adult mother plants. When you grow from seeds, you get both male plants and female plants. Male plants must be eradicated, or else your marijuana flowers will have seeds, which reduces the quality and sale price.
To grow a new plant, you first cut any healthy branch off of a mother plant. You strip some of the lower leaves off, dip it in a rooting hormone, stick it in a media, and within 2 weeks the plant will have healthy roots and can be re-plotted.
Don't use peat moss, use soil from coconut shells. When coconuts are harvested, it's primarily for food purposes and the shells are considered a byproducts. The shells are ground into soil.
The soil is inert, meaning that there aren't any nutrients inherent in the coconut soil. That's perfect for hydroponic growers, since you know that the nutrients you give the plants are the only nutrients the plants are getting.
Your coconut soil is also really spongey, which means that the soil bounces back to it's original density after it dries out, rather than compacting like peat moss. This means there's not continued compaction, which can cause root diseases. It's also conditioned for the perfect oxygen to water ratio.
Run the lights 12 hours per day, typically at night. For a marijuana grower, environmental control is absolutely paramount. Since the lights run very hot, they're run at night time to avoid overheating the facility during hot summer days.
Even when the plants are only a few weeks old, you can start identifying characteristics associated with the main types of marijuana, indica and sativa.
While most of your plants are a hybrid genetic blend of the two, both types have distinct characteristics. Indicas are low and sturdy, coming from colder mountainous regions. Sativas are from the tropics, growing longer and taller, with long growing times.
You need a water filtration system like this reverse osmosis system. This removes all heavy metals from the tap water. This filtration system brings heavy metal content down from anywhere to 200-400 parts per million to 0 parts per million.
That way, when you add in the nutrients you actually want -- like calcium or fertiliser -- you know the water isn't carrying fluctuating amounts of chemicals.
Overwatering and underwatering are novice grower mistakes, said Hice. One of the most important parts of growing excellent marijuana is knowing how to feed the plant correctly, so use the nutrients in the way the manufacturer intended.
This is one of the two flowering rooms. Bring the plants here when they're about 60 days old, and keep them here for another 70 until they're ready to harvest.
The most important thing in the entire growth process is controlling the environment. If you maintain the temperature between 75 and 77 degrees and maintain 45% to 50% humidity, you're set for amazing marijuana. Deviations mean added time and lower quality.
Here are some of those short, stocky indica-heavy hybrid plants. Indicas bring a full body high and are excellent for muscle relaxation.
These, on the other hand, are excellent examples of sativa-heavy hybrids. Sativa cannabis is a head high, and also allows the consumer to be more functional.
The lights go on for 12 hours at 7 PM in this room, 11 PM in the other. Growers come in at six and do most of the watering and maintenance right when the lights come on, that way the plants have time to process it and there isn't moisture buildup when the lights go off.
Marijuana output isn't determined by the number of plants, it's determined by the number of lights. Each 4'x4' section -- with between 9 and 25 plants -- has one 100 watt light, and each light will yield between one and two pounds, depending on the type of plant.
Climate control is imperative. The Denver Relief owners are alerted by an app if the desired temperature and humidity exceed the desired parameters.
If there's a heat wave or a mechanical failure, act fast. You can lose an entire crop if the temperature exceeds 120 degrees for only three hours. It's crucial to be around the plants as often as possible.
The room itself has microclimates -- some parts are colder, some get more light -- and different plants have different preferences. Hice said that they have to grow a plant numerous times over four to nine months to optimise that.
You're trying to optimise taste as well as appearance and smell. Hice confirms the adage 'No stank, no dank,' and said that 99.9% of the time you can tell how good a strain of marijuana is based on sight and smell alone.
While cannabis growth also relies on soil, environment, CO2 and pest management, it also requires what professionals call 'Social management.' Make sure the people who interact with the marijuana are decontaminated and are wearing proper attire to not infect the plants with any sort of disease or pest.
You can take the cuttings and marijuana unfit for sale as flowers and sell them to a marijuana infused products business, which extracts the cannabinoids from what would otherwise be waste.
Once the marijuana is dry, cure it for at minimum two weeks. The longer you can cure it, the better. A month is good.
Congratulations! You've successfully grown marijuana. Now all that's left to do is sell it, which is an entirely different question.
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