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Spring Planting Tips | High Times


Spring is a time of rebirth, and the planting season is always fun as you sow the beginnings of a journey that ends in fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, or flowers like cannabis. In certain parts of the world, like California, the spring planting season comes early. This can be both a blessing and a curse because, depending on where you are located equatorially, supplemental lighting might be necessary to keep your plants from going into flower too early. Since cannabis is photosensitive and some types begin flowering when daylight hours change, you could have plants that start flowering in April and May, leading to stunted and dwarfed plants by September or October. Even worse, your plants could finish early, producing little to no buds and unripened trichomes with low THC.

When it comes to maximizing your plants’ potential, an early spring can be an advantage since they can grow for a longer period. This long vegetative cycle will promote a large root zone and robust, bushy plants. The key to the success of this is multiple transplants or repotting. By gradually increasing the size of the container in which the plant is growing, you will be forcing its root mass to grow as well, promoting a thicker main stalk and bigger plant. Stick to a simple nutrient regimen and use a well-balanced, pre-mixed soil.

Two common problems that growers run into are pests (specifically caterpillars) and powdery mildew. Thankfully, there are many organic solutions to address both of these issues, which are readily available—just make sure to spray early and consistently. When spraying your pest management regimen, start once the sun has begun to set, as direct sunlight on the sprayed plants could burn them.

Now, with the advent and further development of autoflower cultivars, the spring planter is faced with two choices: either plant two cycles of autoflower crops, which will be ready for harvest sooner, or run one crop of autoflowers and then plant a full-term crop. 

Autoflower strains are genetically bred to flower without the 12-hour photoperiod that is typical of cannabis plants. Initially, these plants were somewhat lower in yield and often did not have the vast amount of flavors available in phototypical plants. Now that has changed, and many growers are discovering the advantages of growing these new autoflower varieties. This is especially true of growers who specialize in growing for extraction and only use fresh frozen material. Since these growers usually harvest on the earlier side to preserve terpenes, these types of plants are ideal for biomass. However, it wasn’t until recently that autoflowering plants were high enough quality to produce great hash or extracts.

Once you’ve selected your genetics and figured out your daylight hours, it’s time to get started. Given a choice, begin with well-tested and vetted seeds since you will get a more robust plant and, in some cases, yield almost 20-25% more than mystery seeds. It’s very important to seek out good genetics as you really want to have almost 90% or greater uniformity in your plants. Companies such as the Humboldt Seed Company are currently working on several F1 seeds, which will ensure you get the most uniform crop possible.

Then, it’s time to really begin; the best advice is to keep things simple. Don’t overdo it with nutrients, and don’t overwater. Pay close attention to the packaging of your nutrient of choice—it will tell you exactly how much to apply and how frequently to do so. The best way to not overwater is to get into the habit of feeling the weight of your plant at various moisture contents—if it’s heavy, it has soaked up ample water, but if the plant feels too light, it could use more thorough watering. With these tips you should have a bountiful harvest.

This article was originally published in the April 2024 issue of High Times Magazine.

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