The length of time it takes for a cannabis crop to develop varies from one variety to another, but all pass through the same phases. It is essential to adapt to the different needs of the plant at all times to ensure the success of a home grow. In this guide, the staging has been listed as follows: germination, growth phase, flowering phase and harvest.
There are two ways to obtain plants for a home grow. Through germination, or through the procurement of cuttings. In this section we´ll look at the first option - germination. In the first place, a quality seed must be chosen and kept in the ideal conditions, i.e. in a dry environment and at a temperature of around 8 ° C. Direct sunlight should be avoided. If these guidelines are not followed, the germination rate of the seeds may not be as high as desired.
Germination of a seed can be achieved through several methods, although some are usually more effective than others.
Each grower may use a different method, depending on their preferences, but there are some fixed guidelines that it is always advisable to follow , such as scarifying the seeds, since seeds are not usually cheap and should not be wasted.
In many cases seeds have a very hard and impermeable outer covering, which makes it difficult for the water to penetrate to the embryo plant. The scarification process consists of scratching the seed cover so that the water can hydrate it without problem. They can be scratched by hand one by one or in a group. For this a piece of sandpaper is introduced in a small box, with the seeds, and the box is shaken for 20 or 30 seconds to scratch the surface. The seeds should then be put in water; there are several processes that offer good results, although there are two main ones:
1. Add three or four drops of hydrogen peroxide to a glass of water to prevent the proliferation of fungi or bacteria and add the seeds.
2. Place the seeds in a dish between sheets of wet absorbent paper. Again, it is recommended that the water used contains a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. This should then be covered with a plate or other cover so that air-borne spores cannot enter.
The germination period should take from two to four days and the seedling should then be passed to the chosen culture medium.
Once the seeds have germinated, they need to be placed in a wet culture medium without being soaked. Bury them slightly with the radicle pointing downward, to a depth of about one centimetre.
The optimum temperature of the culture medium is between 24 and 26 ° C.
There are other ways to germinate seeds that can also be used, though they have a lower success rate. These would be to place the seed directly on the ground or in seedbeds (of these two, the seedbeds are the better option).
For outdoor grows, it is important to keep in mind that seedlings and newly germinated seeds are a delicious snack for many species of birds and insects. They should be coverered with a net or other type of protection. You could also place the seeds in your substrate under a window so that it continues to receive light but is protected from predators and bad weather.
Initial growth phase: seedling stage
By ‘growth phase, or period’ we refer to the period of time in which the plant produces branches and leaves to create the necessary infrastructure to feed its flowers. During this phase the photoperiod needs to be 18 hours of light a day or more. Plants that are grown in tropical latitudes have light / dark cycles at around 12 light hours / 12 hours dark, so that these plants come into bloom as soon as they reach maturity and are of a low size. If you wish to prevent the plant having a reduced size, artificial light should be used to complete the missing hours, or ensure that the plant goes through the growth phase inside.
The seedling stage comprises from the time the seed germinates until the first non-cotyledon leaves emerge, that is, until the first serrated leaves sprout.
Seedlings are very sensitive to high humidity in the culture medium and over fertilization, so it is very important to keep the medium wet without soaking and water only when the surface of the medium is dry. No fertilizer should be added at this stage.
The second seedling stage lasts between two and four weeks, and is the phase in which the plant is developing its metabolic system for the production of the enzymes necessary for maturity. During the second seedling phase fertilizers should be used at half the recommended dose.
After the seedling period, the plant has its molecular machinery at full capacity and can be fertilized more intensively.
Advanced growth stage
At this stage the plant is at full growing potential, so it is vital to increase fertilization to its maximum - whilst taking care not to exceed it - so as not to miss the opportunity to obtain the highest growth rate.
It is essential to keep in mind that each plant needs its space, so if there is more than one plant, try to ensure that they are not too close and touching each other, as this will limit growth on that side.
It is important to note that in each transplant, the plant undergoes a root stress that can take up to two weeks to recover. For this reason, try to limit the number of transplants to the lowest possible level.
The growth period will also vary according to the variety chosen, as well as whether it is an indoor or outdoor grow.
Indoors, the more Indica varieties are given a longer growth phase, which, on some occasions, may even exceed a month, as these strains have short flowering periods and the crop would be reduced if were not allowed to grow to their maximum potential.
With indoor marijuana seeds autoflowering varieties, the photoperiod should stay at 18- 20 hours throughout the life of the plant for maximum performance.
With marijuana Sativa seeds varieties shorter growth periods are given, as they have relatively long flowering phases and will have time to grow enough without the crop being affected. The indoor flowering period for Sativa genetics are usually between one and three weeks, depending on the degree of hybridization.
Outdoors, plants that are not autoflowering are conditioned by the hours of light they receive, entering their flowering phase when the cycle of light / dark hours exceeds 12 hours of darkness. Normally, specimens are planted in spring when the night temperature does not fall below 10-12ºC ( In Spain). Planting in mid-April, the plants will have about three months to grow entering the flowering stage in mid-July. But the date of planting can vary from one grower to another. Some horticulturalists from the northern hemisphere germinate the seeds around June 1st and still manage to get a successful crop in mid-September. With autoflowering varieties, it is necessary to take into account their life cycle so you can harvest between April and October in the northern hemisphere.
Regardless of whether it is an indoor or outdoor grow, it is important to think about the irrigation and fertilization cycles needed by the plant.
Usually commercial fertilizers offer dosing tables which give good guidance for programming fertilization. Whenever the plants are watered, it is very important that one quarter of the liquid that has been added is drained, as this will wash the substrate and roots and stop salt precipitation building to toxic levels. It is very important to take into account the limitation of space and height so that the plant does not grow too much. In the first 10-12 days of the twelve-hour light phase, the plant continues to grow until it begins to form flower buds, and even these will add longitudinal growth at the beginning.
How you use the space will be determined by the target size you have set for your plant.
This begins when the plant receives at least twelve hours of darkness prompting metabolic changes which cause the formation of flower buds. Indoors, the floral generative period begins when the first preflowers appear, 10-12 days after the change of hours of light, and this is the time when we need to change the fertilization. Growth fertilizer will be discontinued in favour of fertilizer and flowering biostimulators. Outdoors, the change from vegetative state to flowering happens around mid-July in the northern hemisphere. For both outdoor and indoor, a month or so after the beginning of flowering, the flowers will finish growing in length and begin to gain weight. This is the peak of the flowering phase; and time to use fertilizer more intensively, with extra inputs of phosphorus and potassium. Once the high flowering period, which usually lasts from one to two weeks, is finished, the plants will need only to be watered to deplete the fertilizer that remains in the substrate. The final phase of root washing usually lasts two weeks and is essential for the flowers harvested to have a clean taste, free of metallic or ammoniacal nuances.
It is very important to identify when the plants are ready for harvesting. It is possible to determine if the plant is ripe for harvest by a very simple criterion. A mature plant is one in which more than 50% of the pistils are darkened. The optimum point of maturity being when 75-80% of the stigmas are golden. If a microscope or magnifying glass of 50 times+ is available, it should be possible to see the ripening stage of the trichomes, which are the resin glands that the plant has in its superficial tissues, mainly in the inflorescences. The ideal colour is a cloudy whitish one. If the trichomes were transparent, they would indicate immaturity of the plant;and if the trichomes were amber, it would mean that they are too mature.
From Kannabia Seed Company, as a marijuana seeds bank, we would like to state the following items in accordance with current legislation in force in Spain:
1.- That cultivation should only be for personal supply and consumption.
2.- That the use and purpose of your cultivation must be therapeutic.
3.- That the plantation should be carried out in the privacy of your own home, similarly the consumption. And most importantly, all information that is given references a small cultivation.