Do’s and Don’ts of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

Do’s and Don’ts of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

A listener had some questions about planting outdoor cannabis clones. So let’s dive in.

A recent episode of The Real Dirt Podcast went in depth about the best techniques for planting outdoor cannabis clones. Some listeners have never had any issues transitioning their clones outside, but others are doing it for the first time this season.

While the main focus of the episode is about preventing early flowering in clones, a listener from Oklahoma who is new to growing wanted to know why early flowering is such a bad thing in the first place, and some other questions about planting outdoor cannabis clones.

Outdoor Cannabis Clones and Early Flowering

A lot of new growers might plant some clones outside, come back a couple weeks later to find them already flowering, and think they struck gold. If you could grow a cannabis plant in half the time and still have it produce flowers, why wouldn’t you? But that’s not really how it works.

Here’s how it usually goes: You take the plant out in May. Two weeks later you notice those pretty flowers. Two weeks after that, you get small buds. But then the plant stalls for two weeks to a month and begins to grow weird shaped leaves out of the buds. The plant then reverts back to vegetative growth.

At this point however, it’s already the middle of July, so your plant only has two or three more weeks before it goes into flower again under the natural light of the sun. In the end, you end up with less cannabis that doesn’t look as good.

There are a few things you can do to ensure that your clones thrive outside, but there’s also plenty of things to avoid.

The Do’s of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

Know your clones – Certain clones just don’t perform well outdoors. If they come from a strain that was bred indoors and is mostly cultivated indoors, you’re more likely to encounter problems. Before you just buy an exotic strain clone from your local nursery, do some research into its growth patterns and traits, so you can be sure to avoid strains more prone to problems.

Know your light cycles – Different areas of the United States have short and longer light cycles throughout the year. You can easily look up the light cycles of where you live to determine when you should plant your outdoor cannabis clones. In Oklahoma for example, May 1 has 13 and a half hours of daylight. By June 1, there is 14 hours and 23 min of daylight. Then by June 21, the longest day of the year, Oklahoma gets over 14 and half hours of sunlight. Most clones will want to flower at this point, which you don’t want.

Keep some backups – It’s always good to keep some backup clones on hand that you don’t plant outside right away. Especially if it is your first time growing outdoor cannabis clones, start with planting half to two-thirds of your clones outdoors after ensuring they aren’t prone to problems. Should they flower early by chance, you’ll at least have some plants you can salvage and continue to grow.

Transition your clones – Use a shade cloth or a greenhouse to acclimate your plants to the sun. As they adjust to natural light you can wane them off of supplemental lights until they are ready to transplant. If you want to keep it as simple as possible, you can keep your plants under tree cover and shade and then move them out into the sun when they are ready. With this method you most likely won’t have any supplemental lighting.

Keep an eye on them Clones are extremely sensitive to transplants, and it’s common for outdoor cannabis clones to have issues when they are transplanted from a controlled indoor or greenhouse environment to an outdoor bed or pot. You need to check on your clones regularly to ensure none of them are suffering from transplant shock or other problems.

Seems simple enough, but there’s some things you need to avoid to increase your outdoor cannabis clones’ chances.

The Don’ts of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

Don’t put them out too early – Unless you are using supplemental lighting outdoors, you need to keep your clones in a greenhouse where you can control their light schedule to help them adjust to natural light over time. When the longest days in late May and early June only have 13-14 hours of light, your clones will begin flowering if not adjusted.

Don’t let your clones become root bound – The last thing you want is for your clones to become comfortable in their nursery pots, with roots wrapped around its base, only to strain those roots when you transplant them. If you transplant outdoors before your clones have rooted, it will be easier for them to adjust and root into their new medium.

Don’t stress your clones out – Clones are already delicate. They are raised in a controlled environment, with a specific temperature, humidity and lighting. If you’re keeping your clones at a steady temperature 72-74 degrees Fahrenheit indoors, you don’t want to transplant them on a 95 degree day. While it is important to keep your keep your clones wet for the first few days after transplanting, you don’t want to stress them by overwatering either.

This list of do’s and don’ts might seem long, but making sure your outdoor cannabis clones don’t flower early isn’t difficult to avoid. You can simply keep them in an indoor or greenhouse environment and slowly adjust the lights, so when you put them outside around solstice when the day is around 15 hours, your plants will be adjusted, and will transition to flower more naturally.


Listen to the original episode all about planting outdoor cannabis clones and let us know if you have any questions we didn’t answer!

Is That Botrytis? Catching Bud Rot

Is That Botrytis? Catching Bud Rot

The hobby grower or casual cannabis consumer might not even know where to look for bud rot. But you don’t want to find it on your buds.

Botrytis, commonly called “bud rot”, is a type of mold that develops on the dense cores of cannabis flowers. It starts in the stems and works its way into the base of your buds, eventually consuming and destroying the whole flower.

If caught early on, bud rot can be minimized to only a few infected plants, but the only way to get rid of it entirely is to destroy the infected plants and fix your environment.

The Cause of Bud Rot

Botrytis thrives in cooler temperatures with high humidity. If you have no proper airflow in your grow room, your plants can become a breeding ground for bud rot. One of the most common causes of bud rot is a double edged sword for a lot of growers.

As cannabis flowers develop and become more dense, more moisture can collect on the flowers especially in a more humid environment. While a lot of growers try to produce the heaviest buds possible for higher yields, doing so runs an increased risk of developing bud rot if extra care is not taken.

Bud rot is also much more common in drug cultivars of cannabis (improperly called Indica today), that grow stockier with denser buds due to their origins in the kush mountains where temperature were cooler. European hemp-derived cultivars (Sativas) grow taller and more airy compared to drug cultivars, which gives them superior mold resistance with proper air flow.

How to Catch It

If a grower doesn’t catch bud rot before they send it out to the dispensary, it’s unlikely a budtender or customer will pick it up either. An observant grower should be consistently checking their plants, looking under the canopy, and getting into the base of the buds with a loupe to check for bud rot.

Botrytis can be confused for amber trichomes to an amateur, as it can have a white or brownish color that resembles dark trichomes. But the distinguishing feature of bud rot is the wispy, web-like threads that spread across the bottom of the buds. A grower can catch botrytis before harvest or after harvest during trimming. It won’t always affect every plant in the grow, which is why it’s so important to check every plant, and during trimming check all the buds for bud rot.

For the average consumer picking up cannabis at the dispensary, there are a couple ways to catch bud rot. Bigger, denser buds are more likely to develop botrytis, so these buds need to be checked first. Simply rotate the bud around, checking the base for the white to dark brown, wispy threads. Squeezing the bud softly and listening for a crunch can also help. If the bud sort of mushes together in your fingers without crumbling or breaking, there’s a chance it still has moisture in it. If the bud feels a little too sticky, check for bud rot.

How to Deal with Bud Rot

The best way to deal with botrytis is to catch it early on, or preventing it all together with environmental controllers that maintain proper temperatures and humidity in the grow. If you do encounter bud rot on your plants, the earlier the better.

Unfortunately, bud rot is most likely to develop in the later flowering stages as buds get more dense. This means the infected buds need to be thrown out, and the remaining plants moved to a stable grow environment. For the cannabis consumer, if you spot bud rot on your cannabis, you might be out of luck.

Dispensaries don’t have return policies, and it would probably take some convincing to have your infected cannabis replaced free of charge. But if you have evidence like pictures, there’s a chance the dispensary will make it right. Overall, if you are sold bud rot-ridden cannabis from any dispensary, it’s time to go somewhere else.

The Truth About Living Soil

The Truth About Living Soil

I hear two really popular tag-lines about growing cannabis these days: living soil and no till.

In reality, these terms are really just old forms of magic poking their head into the new cannabis industry. Living soil is a term defined by Elaine Ingram, our godmother to biological understanding of the soil. The problem is, all soul is living.

The idea of living soil is that you nurture the environment within the soil and develop an ecological or biological ecosystem. Now, on the surface it sounds great. But how do we get there, and what does it really mean to have “living” soil?

Origins of Living Soil Ingredients

First off, living soil is no more environmentally friendly than rockwool.

Ok, 3/4 of the people reading this just threw their phone across the room or started cursing my name. But just think about where all those organic ingredients come from. Just because they are natural ingredients doesn’t mean they’re superior.

Almost every specialty organic ingredient is strip mined. Somebody rolls onto a piece of land, sets up conveyors and starts digging a hole. They get all the gypsum or bat guano or whatever else out and maybe they fill the hole back up. Maybe they just walk away. Not the most environmentally friendly.

For instance, bat guano is one of the most loved organic ingredients by living soil farmers. However they don’t just sweep up the fresh bat poop on the floor of caves. They find areas around the planet where bats are living, and tear them apart top to bottom.

High-nitrogen guano is the freshest bat poop. This is the first product that is swept up off the bottom of the cave using large excavators and front-end loaders. As soon as the fresh bat guano is depleted the hard soil at the bottom of the cave begins to be dug up. This is the high phosphorus bat guano.

The same destructive process is used for fossilized kelp, humus, gypsum and lime, creating eco-damaging strip mines everywhere. Kind of uncool if you ask me.

Real “Living Soil”

If you have a real commitment to organic farming you would use just compost and other waste products such as fish emulsion, bonemeal, harvested kelp, and composted agricultural waste. Compost has minimal nutrition in it and only biological life like weeds, seeds and other bugs.

I have made literally millions of yards of compost. Compost is usually made from green waste materials or sawdust. The whole point is to add nitrogen to the carbon-based waste product.

When you balance the carbon-nitrogen ratio, your compost is ready. This means all the nitrogen and most of the beneficial phosphorus and potassium has also been eaten up in the composting process. Therefore compost is mostly cheap filler. The only benefits you get from it is biological life, yet you have to deal with the bugs, pests, weeds and the seeds.

Living Soil and Cannabis

Besides the environmental impacts, living soil doesn’t really work that well inside. Living soil is often full of bugs, part of what makes it “alive”. Once a critter is introduced into an indoor environment there’s little chance that you’ll be able to restore your grow room back to its bug-less inception.

With modern cannabis growing, pesticides and pest control are of the upmost importance. Pest control is a heavily regulated area within the cannabis community. Pest control is so highly regulated that the introduction of pests into your room is the first line of defense.

Living soil doesn’t yield indoors and in most cases living soil does not yield much at all. It mostly serves as a magical term used by magical people to complete their Bro-science degree.

I’m not telling you it doesn’t work, I’m saying it’s like a hole-in-one. You can try as hard as you can, practice your swing all day. But a hole-in-one is determined as much by luck as it is determined by your skill. Living soil is the same way; it’s expensive, it’s never the same twice, you have to work hard at mixing it, and then only randomly does it actually work well.

At this point if you’re still reading you’re either intrigued or you totally hate me. Here’s the truth. I’m a sucker for organic, and if it says organic on the label I generally buy it. I’m a 25 year vegetarian, and even lived off the grid for numerous years. I am a tree hugger and a conservationist.

But if you want to grow the highest quality cannabis indoors, the above ideas don’t mash. If you want to grow consistently and not crap after crap, living soil will not work for you.

If you want to believe your bro science or your brother-in-law or your “Master” grower friend that’s always putting you down, go for it. But look at the quality of all of your buds without excuses and you’ll see living soil a little differently.

How to Pick Quality Hemp Genetics

How to Pick Quality Hemp Genetics

With an exploding market and a high demand for hemp genetics, how can you tell if your genetics are high quality?

For the past 90 years, the only hemp that grew in the United States other than hemp grown in scientific studies for research purposes was feral. That is, it grew in the wild, mostly untouched by man. Now that industrial hemp has been legalized and a new market is quickly emerging, a lot of farmers are trying to transition from traditional row crops into mass-hemp production.

With very few means to process hemp fibers, husks and other materials that will be useful in the future, the main appeal for those entering the hemp industry is CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) has become a craze in the US, with hundreds if not thousands of new CBD companies and products.

But where are all these people getting their hemp seeds from, and as a grower, how can you know if the seeds you get are quality?

Hemp Genetics Stability

Stable genetics are genetics that are uniform. This is essential for hemp farmers who are growing on a large scale. Having stable genetics give the grower confidence knowing that every seed they plant, will grow to look exactly the same, with same characteristics as the plant next to it.

On a large scale, this makes processing and managing your hemp much easier. Compare this to unstable genetics that would vary in size, structure, and potentially have other growth issues. Stable genetics makes the whole grow uniform, and therefore easier to manage.

You can tell the stability of your genetics relatively quickly, as you’ll notice differences in growth and structure as the plants vegetate. Stable genetics will grow to look the same, at the same time.

High-CBD Hemp Genetics

Like it or not, CBD is the name of the game in legal hemp right now. Until the market grows a desire for the countless other commodities created via hemp, CBD is the most accessible and sellable hemp product on the market currently. But when it comes to high-CBD hemp genetics, they are few and far between.

Cannabis has been genetically modified by humans for hundreds of years, with the most vigorous and highest yielding plants being crossed with each other to produce the high-THC strains we have today. Up until December 2018, hemp hasn’t had the same luxury. It has mainly grown feral around the world, with a main focus on extracting its materials in Europe.

But now that hemp is legal in the States, and everybody is looking for high-CBD hemp, cannabis breeders are making the transition to hemp. By taking traditionally low-THC cannabis strains, and breeding them over time with high-CBD feral hemp strains, the THC can be bred out, and the CBD bred up.

The end result is hemp that looks, smells and even tastes like cannabis, with .3% THC or less, and CBD content surpassing 12-15%. It’s important to do your due diligence in researching your hemp seed supplier to ensure they have quality, high-CBD genetics, and not some mid-grade hemp seed they pulled off some males growing the back yard.

You Won’t Know Til You Grow

The reality is you can buy the most expensive hemp seeds from one of the most renowned breeders and still not get quality results. Sellers with a reputation won’t always have the best stock available, and the only way to truly know whether or not you have quality genetics is to grow it through flower and test it.

Even if your genetics aren’t the most stable, and you have varying sizes and structures in your plants, they can still produce high-CBD hemp flower that can be processed. But the only way to test your CBD content is to wait until your plants are roughly 35 days into their flower cycle. This is when you can begin to test for CBD content effectively.

It is important to trust your hemp seed supplier, but even if they are a pro, they can still produce seeds that won’t perform as well as others. Just like cannabis, growing quality hemp is a process of testing, trial and error. Until you’ve been through a couple hemp harvests, you probably won’t truly know what to look for in your genetics.

That’s why it is important to study up with articles like this and others that help guide you through the growing process, and how to judge your own hemp genetics for quality.

Top 4 Reasons to Grow in Coco

Top 4 Reasons to Grow in Coco

Coco coir is the medium you have been looking for. You just might not have known it.

It’s easy to just grab a bag of potting soil from your local grow shop and plant your cannabis plants in it. You’ll get results, they just might not be the results you were expecting.

The reality is, to grow better cannabis you need to be smarter about how you’re growing it. From the nutrients you use, to when you top your plants, to when you chop them down are all important factors. But a simple change you can make in your grow to boost your yields and quality is to just swap out your medium.

And there’s no better medium to add to your blend or as a standalone home for your plants than coco coir. Here’s the top 4 reasons you need to be using it in your grow.

Coco is Renewable

Coco coir is a byproduct. If it wasn’t for some genius discovering how great cannabis grew in it, that’s what it would have stayed. When coconuts are used for their husks and meat, in food to textiles mainly across Asia, coco coir is the loose stringy material that falls off during processing.

Instead of just throwing this byproduct out, it is recycled and batched into bags, then shipped across the world. Compared to other mediums that take hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years to collect its beneficial microorganisms and other decayed biological material, coconuts take much less time to mature.

The main source of coco coir comes from the Malaysian coconut tree, which has spread across most coasts around the world, making it the most available worldwide. After reaching full growth in 5-6 years, the coconut tree will continually produce coconuts for several more years.

While six years might seem like a long time to wait for some coconuts, it’s much faster than waiting for a peat bog to develop, and it’s much more environmentally friendly than mining for perlite and other media, considering just one coconut tree can produce over 150 coconuts in its lifetime.

Coco is pH Neutral

pH can be subtle, and also detrimental if ignored. Potting soils, peat and other organic media will either have a more basic or acidic pH based on what it contains. Because cannabis requires a specific pH acidity to grow, this has to be accounted for when you decide to use an organic medium and additional nutrients.

While it isn’t difficult to change you pH with some additives, you can avoid the hassle altogether by growing in coco. As a pH neutral medium, you have much more control over your plant’s environment. It is also easier to manage your feedings without having to account for rapid pH changes that could shock your plants.

It’s Great for Holding Moisture

Because of coco’s lightweight but still-absorbent nature, it can hold water extremely well while still maintaining its great aeration and drainage abilities. If you want to feed your plants more often while still ensuring your plants are getting as much as possible without overfeeding, coco is a great option.

When combined with other additional media like peat and perlite, you can create a high aerated blend that can still hold moisture. Or simply add coco into whatever soil blend you are using now to add some extra aeration, plus the final benefits of coco; its nutrient content.

Full of Nutrients

Think of a coconut like a giant seed. The way coconuts spread across the globe was by falling off of their tress and rolling into the ocean. After landing on a foreign beach the coconuts would shed their outer material through the journey and eventually result in the sprouting of a new tree.

The same organic, nutrient rich material that the coconut produces to sprout new trees is also in coco coir. By adding coco coir to your soil mix you get additional nutrients rich in hormones and bio-stimulants that encourage more growth. Compared to peat which is also full of nutrients, other than the obvious renewability benefits of coco, it also much stronger of a material. In fact, coco coir resists compacting and breakage to the point that it can last three-times longer than peat.

If you aren’t convinced that coco is at least a medium you need to try, then there just might be no convincing you. However if you’re already growing with coco, we’re just preaching to the choir because you know how great it is. For those of you hesitant to try it, check out this full Real Dirt Episode that takes a deep dive into everything coco.

And if you’re ready to try a bag of awesome coco-ey goodness, check out the High Porosity Blend from Growers Soil, The Real Dirt’s favorite soil blend.

The Best Hemp Products for Growing

The Best Hemp Products for Growing

You can plant a seed in the ground, give it water and hope for the best. Or you can get the best hemp products for growing and blow away the competition.

Growing hemp indoors will produce higher quality results than that of hemp grown outdoors on a large scale. Not to any fault of the grower, but due to the conditions of growing outdoors, the plants just have to endure more, including changing weather. Indoors, all of this can be avoided to grow hemp that looks and smells great.

However if you are growing industrial hemp on a large scale, there are still some hemp products in this list that you can utilize to increase productivity.

Hemp Products for Propagation

Whether you’re starting from seed or clone, you’ll need to start them in a controlled environment indoors. Whatever option you choose, you are best off putting those seeds or clones into some root plugs. There’s rockwool, coco, peat and other options you can try to hold your young plants, but you’ll need somewhere to put all of them once your seed and cuttings are put into the plugs.

Cheap and easy, all you need is a 50-cell plastic tray, or a 72-cell tray to house your root plugs. You’ll also need a bottom tray to hold your cells. This will make it much easier to move your plants around once they start to bulk up plus you can get them with holes for extra aeration and drainage.

Best Lights for Growing Hemp

When you are still in the propagation stage, T5 lights are one of the most common and effective options. They are also easy to find compared to other specialty lights.

The great thing about T5 lights is that you can easily increase their effective range. You can have two bulbs in one fixture to cover a smaller area, or if you have a larger propagation area pick up a 4×8 T5 ballast to cover twice as much area with one fixture.

Another great light option for propagation is LED light fixtures. LEDs can be expensive, but they are extremely cost effective and efficient in the grow. You can get just a single bulb, up to entire strips and fixtures depending on the area you need to cover. The best option by far though, is the 315 LEC (Light Emitting Ceramic) bulb.

Also known as a CMH (Ceramic Metal Halide), a 315 LEC bulb packs a lot of light power into one bulb. It is great for bulking up your plants during the vegetation stage, and is powerful enough to continually provide the light they need all the way through flower, resulting in healthier, more consistent yields.

You Need Rolling Benches

Hemp can be a vivacious plant that grows tall and wide if not trained and trimmed consistently. The bigger your plants get, the heavier they will become and the more space they will take up. If you just throw your pots on the ground or on a roller for each individual pot, you’ll be spending a lot of time moving plants back and forth just to get through your grow.

With rolling benches, all that extra work is gone. You can get benches as small or large as you need, and it allows you keep your plants in the same place, while still being able to move them easily. Benches are essential for optimizing the space in your grow.

You can push them together when you need more space, and you can push them apart to easily create walkable aisles. Without rolling benches, you’ll be spending way more time just trying to squeeze between plants without breaking branches.

To really succeed in growing the best hemp, there is more you’ll need to add to this list. Irrigation, humidity and other environmental controllers, the nutrients you use and more can all be a game changer if you aren’t putting as much focus into them right now.

Get some of the best tips for which products you should use, whether to grow form seed or clones and more on The Real Dirt Podcast.

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