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Cannabis: How It Grows

March 22, 2021

Growing Plant

One of humankind’s oldest agricultural crops, cannabis matures in about four to five months in most climates. It’s easy to grow (or as difficult, depending on your gardening skills) as tomatoes. Like all plants (like all of us), cannabis responds best to a little nurture and good conditions: well aerated, nutrient and mineral rich soil; clean water; and southern exposure with good sunlight. Cannabis adapts to less than ideal conditions, as growers forced into woods and alleys throughout prohibition can attest, but it likes the touch of a green thumb. Just like tomatoes and roses, cannabis can be pruned and trained for better yield, and it likes fortified, well amended soil, a stake or cage to lean against, and a greenhouse for heat and privacy (still an issue, even where cannabis is legal.

The biggest difference between cannabis and most other plants in the gardens is that it’s dioecious, meaning each seed is a male or female. Males produce less resin and can flower earlier so they can pollinate females and then, mission accomplished, slowly wither. They pummel the girls with pollen, given the chance, making the girls lackluster and seedy. For this reason, most gardeners yank the boys as soon as they show erect little flower balls (you can’t make this stuff up). The seedless, single girls produce more resin with higher concentrations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THCP), the cannabinoid that gets people high, and become known as sinsemilla. (Cannabis plants grown from clones, or cuttings from mature plants, are all female, so this process isn’t necessary.)

The pre-flowering stage (known colloquially as the stretch) takes one day to two weeks. Most plants spend 10–14 days in this period after switching the light cycle to 12 hours of darkness. Plant development increases dramatically, with the plant doubling or more in size. Production of more branches and nodes occurs during this stage, as the structure for flowering grows. The plant starts to develop bracts/bracteoles where the branches meet the stem. Pre-flowering indicates the plant is ready to flower.

The flowering phase varies from about 6 to 12 weeks for pure indicas with their shorter flowering time than pure sativas. Mixed indica/sativa strains have an intermediate flowering time. The sex is clearly revealed in the first phase, the actual flowering. Males produce little ball-like flowers clustered together like grapes called panicles. Most plants (except auto flowering strains that flower independently of photoperiod) begin to flower under diminishing light. In nature, cannabis plants sense the forthcoming winter as the Earth revolves about the Sun and daylight reduces in duration. The next phase consists in the fruition (or fruiting): the females inflorescences that were not pollinated (i.e.: fertilized by male pollen) start to produce infructescences that contain sticky white resin-containing glands (or trichomes) in a final attempt for pollination by windborne male pollen. The trichomes produce resins that contain the largest amounts of THC and CBN, the two main psychoactive substances. Fertilized females continue to produce resinous trichomes but more plant energy is consumed by the production of seeds, which can be half the mass of a fertilized bract; thus, to maximize resin per gram, infertile cultivation is preferred.

The following information is presented for educational purposes only. Summit Releaf distributes this information to provide an understanding of the potential benefits of medical marijuana for patients living with one of the approved Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program qualifying conditions for an Ohio marijuana card. Links to third party websites do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Summit Releaf and none should be inferred.

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